This column originally appeared in the June 1, 2017, issue of the Portage County Gazette. Most of it is about a day spent on the Ice Age Trail and its connecting routes, but my column often addressed more than one topic. In this case, it was the memory of a colleague I respected a great deal.
Even though last week was a good one, with a fun birthday party outdoors and more hiking on the Ice Age Trail, it was also a week of sorrow, as we lost another great friend of the outdoors.
I was home preparing for my daughter’s party when I heard the news, and it cast a pall over much of the weekend. Still, the party ended up being a fine one, with rambunctious 8-to-10-year-olds running around the yard, driveway and garage, which we had cleaned out for birthday cake and a place safe from the rain that threatened but never came.
Earlier in the week, I had finished 16 more miles of the Ice Age Trail. As always, it was a wonderful time, made better with the company of a good friend.
We can never take such times for granted, because they always disappear too soon.
This column originally appeared in the Oct. 24, 2017, issue of the Portage County Gazette. The Muir traveling exhibit hasn’t disappeared, though — it can be booked through the Wisconsin Historical Society for those interested in exhibiting it.
It’s the last weekend to see the state historical society’s exhibit on John Muir while it’s in Stevens Point, but that doesn’t mean it’s your last chance to get a little closer to understanding what he was about.
The eight-panel exhibit, set up through Oct. 21 in the lobby of the library at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, focuses on Muir’s youth in Wisconsin, his advocacy for the U.S. national parks system and his thoughts on environmental issues.
The exhibit’s next stop is UW-Parkside in Kenosha, where it will reside from Oct. 24-Nov. 11, but anyone can get a slightly different take – and likely a more brisk one – by taking a walk at his boyhood home at John Muir Memorial County Park south of Montello.
Frequent hiking buddy Chris Sadler and I made the hour-long drive to Marquette County to take in the early fall air and see where the 10-year-old Muir learned to swim and loved to explore the natural world.
This piece originally appeared in the Feb. 2, 2017, issue of the Portage County Gazette. Every now and then, I look for updates on Summers, but can find no information on his planned effort to do all the national trails — or any info at all.
Ice Age Trail winter thru-hiker Mike Summers passed through Portage County last week, and his name is one we might want to keep an eye out for.
The North Carolina native, by way of Chicago and Portland, is on a two-month foray through Wisconsin to practice winter camping. He’s prepping for a two-and-a-half year, 20,000-mile hike on our National Scenic Trails, so he wants to learn all he can about handling winter weather.
That’s admirable enough, but it was one of his Facebook videos that really made me understand his commitment to the task: fording the Prairie River in Lincoln County sometime early this week.
Barefoot, of course.
Being nestled between the Dells and Devil’s Lake may sound like a recipe for being an outdoor-recreation also-ran, but the city of Baraboo has its own fresh-air gem in its Baraboo Riverwalk.
Part of the Ice Age Trail, the Riverwalk is only four miles of mostly-paved walkways meandering through the heart of Baraboo. It shows off a charming small city in its best light and it’s worth a trip for its own sake, although there’s plenty of bonus entertainment that comes along with it.
Hiking buddy Chris Sadler and I recently took two vehicles, parking one at the northern trail endpoint at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County campus in Baraboo. We extended our hiking distance by heading to a parking area just off State Highway 113 in the eastern portion of Devil’s Lake State Park, where the Devil’s Lake segment of the IAT starts.
The park wasn’t in our itinerary for the day, although it and other area local spots are on the agenda for future columns.
The Ice Age Trail is one of our state’s finest assets, and to support it, I took part in the annual Hike-a-Thon presented by the Portage and Waupaca County chapters the Ice Age Trail Association.
I also wrote about it for the Portage County Gazette, an article that the paper chose to put behind a paywall as it moves toward its internet pay model. Because of what may have been a boneheaded error on my part, my original version got corrupted and I had to reconstruct the entire piece from memory — and in a hurry. I think it still came out well, but before too long I may publish the text of the two pieces side by side as a means of analyzing, for my students, the writing process a little more.
In any event, I’ve posted some extra pictures of my Saturday walk right here. I hope they inspire you to visit and support the trail either in Central Wisconsin or in some other part of our great state.