–submitted by Leigh Richardson; photos by Jeff Tews
“Embarking on the back road journey 2 miles north of Cross Plains, members of the Rotary Hiking Fellowship had no idea this pristine gem awaited. Towering forests, chin-high rainbows of prairie flowers, and the grand finale– a shelter perched overlooking the driftless region. A view to rival Blue Mounds State Park.
At the bi-section of the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail lies the 460-acre “Swamplovers Nature Preserve.” Even our seasoned hikers were unaware of its existence.
When rounding a wooded curve, we even encountered an alligator in a bikini! It elicited frightened gasps until we realized it was merely a lawn statue planted trailside by the lighthearted Swamplovers’ group.
Thank you, hike coordinator, Andrea Kaminski, for sharing this lovely find!”
–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Herman Baumann
From left: Ted Waldbillig, Mike Crane, Cindy Waldbillig, Leslie Overton, Katie Ryan & Andrea Kaminski
It was 37 degrees when we got to Wingra Park Saturday morning. The ice conditions looked poor, yet people were fishing on the lake. Then again, people who fish through the ice are a particularly intrepid lot, and they are not burdened by the pesky survival instincts that keep the rest of us on terra firma or even indoors in the winter. The surface ice had thawed and refrozen a couple of times, leaving a slippery surface and there were large patches that were covered by water. Although some members of our group were willing to try it, we decided instead to hike a wooded trail that leads from Wingra Park to the duck pond at the northern tip of the Nakoma golf course. This led us over an open, spring-fed stream with a crop of fresh, green watercress. The spring rises from a rock outcrop called Council Ring, which was designed in the early 20th century by landscape architect Jens Jensen. We all managed to stay upright, thanks to cleats on our boots, walking sticks from a store or the forest floor, or a combination of skill and luck. Then six of us piled around a table for four at Colectivo for coffee and treats.
–submitted by Dawn Crim; photography by Karl Gutknecht
On Saturday the Hiking Fellowship Group enjoyed its first hike of the season organized by Rotarian Karl Gutknecht with Bob Miller, President and Executive director of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, and board member and Rotarian Deb Gilpin on hand at the Black Earth location. What a wonderful way for over 25 Rotarians and friends and two dogs to welcome spring! Bob provided background on the 38 acre site in front of the Leopold Lodge that can be rented for camping trips, meetings,etc. An excellent location for our group photo too.
The site has wonderful hiking trails. We hiked the first loop, about 1.5 miles consisting of mature woods, and rocky outcroppings. This path had somewhat steep terrain that took us high in the treetops before winding down into the valley. Once at the bottom, Bob shared stories of several scouting troops who rent out the site to test for hiking badges and other camping adventures. We embarked on the second loop which was about 1 mile. This path was not as steep as the first and had a fire pit and council ring at the top.
Our hike concluded with a picnic lunch on the wooded deck of the Alexander Studio. The studio has high cathedral ceilings, a center stage and originally served as a rebirthing center in the early 1970’s.
It was a beautiful day and great location to kick off the hiking season. Bob invited us all to visit the Monona Aldo Leopold Nature Center later this summer.
–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photos by Herman Baumann
The Rotary Hiking Fellowship enjoyed the snow at New Glarus Woods State Park on Sunday, November 16. We met near the picnic shelter, where a friendly park ranger made sure we all had daily or annual state park passes on our cars. He was very proud of his park, and he stopped to take a photo of the group before we headed off on the Havenridge Trail.
Equipped with printed park maps and multiple GPS devices, the consensus of the team was to simply follow the loop. According to Jeff Tews’ Fitbit, we hiked 4.3 miles and climbed the equivalent of 50 flights of stairs. After the trek, six of us went into New Glarus for a warm and tasty lunch at Kristi’s Bistro Cafe.
–submitted by Katie Ryan; photos by Herman Baumann, Karl Gutknecht & Susan Hunt
On Saturday, October 18, the Rotary Special Events Fellowship Group, Hiking Fellowship Group and Big Wheels Bicycling Fellowship Group and guests were invited to Frank and Mariana Weinhold’s beautiful 135-acre property, Louis’ Bluff. The farm was settled in 1847 and is one of the oldest in Juneau County. It includes 7000 feet of shoreline along the Wisconsin River and a spectacular rocky bluff that provides an incredible view. The October 8 Rotary speaker photojournalist Mike Kienitz went out to the site, which is about an hour and a quarter’s drive from Madison on the north side of the Wisconsin Dells, and captured the panorama with his camera-fitted drone.
You can watch his October 11, 2014, at the you tube video “DRONE IN THE DELLS“. Our hike was on the same sort of glorious, sunny fall day.
We gathered at the Weinhold’s house for a barbecue lunch and social time before heading out on hikes. There are flat routes past cultivated fields and through the oak and pine woods to the beaches and a steep climb up the rocky limestone bluffs. Most of the group of thirty headed up to the top. There’s an overlook to the north that juts out into the Wisconsin River and provides a stunning view of the formations caused by glacial outwash. The entire property is a private conservation area, and although you see some evidence of civilization, you’d never guess you were down the road from the amusements of the Dells. There is a reminder of the tourism history however, a 1954 cedar-log replica of the Fort Winnebago blockhouse from the Fort Dells amusement park relocated at Louis’ Bluff. It was dedicated in a traditional Ho-Chunk ceremony and there are headdresses from the Bear Clan on display inside.
Besides geological interest, the entire area is sacred to the Ho-Chunk nation. Melanie Tallmadge Sainz (left), a member of the Ho-Chunk nation whose family has a long history at the site, accompanied the hikers. At the top she explained the Native American significance of the area and played a beautiful melody on a cedar flute. She is director of the Little Eagle Arts Foundation. Another special viewing was an active eagle’s nest on the Weinhold’s bluff. The group reconvened at the house for pie and ice cream. The Weinholds opened their house, ice house, shed, beach-side gazebo and a cemetery for exploration. It was a spectacular fall day and a great excursion for the Rotary hiking fellowship.
Our thanks to Frank and Mariana Weinhold for their gracious hospitality and to Petie Rudy and Leigh Richardson of the Special Events Fellowship Group for organizing this event.
–submitted by Bob Graebner; photos by Ken Yuska
“Bumps on a Log”
On Saturday, April 26, members and guests of the Hiking Fellowship summited Blue Mound in perfect climbing conditions. This was the loftiest altitude ever achieved during a Hiking Fellowship event! The participants were properly acclimated and conditioned for the ascent. We were accompanied by Dan Dieck’s beautiful German Shorthair (pictured below), the latter failing to point even a single pheasant. The hike was followed by a high-energy meal at Sjolind’s Chocolate House in Mt. Horeb.
Dan will be coordinating a summer hike on the Ice Age Trail and Karl Gutknecht a late summer/early fall event at the Aldo Leopold Headquarters. Virginia Bartelt will coordinate a Thursday evening hike during the summer. All of these dates are to be determined by the respective coordinators. Stay tuned for more information.