I pulled double duty this autumn day, planning and leading three separate hikes. The morning Tyke hike would be followed by two afternoon school hikes. Knowing the unpredictability of Wisconsin's weather, this triple-hike experiment could have been a wonderful or devastating decision. Luckily, though there was a rather frustrating bump in the road, the weather was brilliant and the hikes were fantastic.
At the Tyke Hike, 50 hikers and a four-legged friend joined me on my trek down the newest section of Lapham Peak's Ice Age trail, thanks to a Mobile Skills Crew project in late August. The school hikes also brought in around 50 people each. Though the route of each hike was identical, the discoveries the participants of each hike made each journey unique and different.
We departed from the tower and headed gradually down hill until we came to one of my favorite spots that used to be right along the trial, but is now a short distance away because of the reroute. At this spot, a hollowed out tree makes for a perfect family photo. We stopped to snap some photos and discussed blazes and their purpose on the trail.
Then it was furtehr down the path until we stopped at a short 30-foot section near and dear to my heart. Here, I stopped to provide information on the volunteering that goes hand in hand with the Ice Age Trail. I chose this specific spot because a few short weeks ago, I was lucky enough to volunteer and build this section of the trail. I reminisced about the painful memories of de-stumping this area and adding a new rock wall to aid trail stability.
We then continued down the hill to a new area loaded with young pines and older oaks. Being a tree enthusiast, I had to take this opportunity to talk trees with the hikers, so besides chatting and aksing kids about deciduous and evergreen trees, I gave them a quiz. I asked each child to find one leaf and one acorn and hold them up high. Then, I asked them what they were holding. Some said nature. Some said seeds. Some said stuff. :) Great answers, but not the one I was looking for. I told them that they were holding the future. After scanning the faces and noticing quizzical looks from both children and adults, I mentioned that the acorns were the baby oaks and the leaves would decompose into the soil needs to help those babies grow, so the kids were literally holding in their own hands the future of the forest. They seemed to enjoy it.
After the quiz, we retraced our steps back to the tower. At the Tyke Hike, Our librarian assistant read some stories and led some glacier yoga while I handed out Tyke Hike Certificates and schedules for future hikes. At the school hikes, I took many still energized children up to the top of the tower for a scenic look at the fall colors, which I am told are near 40% of their peak this weekend.
You may remember the frustrating bump in the road I told you about. It may have been a literal bump in the road as one of the tires I had just purchased the night before had already gone flat. Luckily, some Good Samaritan hikers from one of the school hikes assisted me with the change. Technically, they did it and I entertained the kids. :)
Alas, that slight unexpected event didn't detract from the wonderful day. I enjoyed seeing many former students, current students, and other excited hikers. When I surveyed the growing crowds while waiting to begin the Tyke Hike, families told me they heard about the Tyke Hike from the local newspaper, the Ice Age Trail website, a moms group, Facebook, REI, the library, and the bulletin board posting information in the park's parking lot. I was blown away at how many ways are out there to get tykes out and about.
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