One last winter playground.
April in northern Wisconsin always includes a snowstorm.
Usually a big one. At least it has since we moved here in 2015 and this year was no exception. Five days after my outing with the GorillaPod the world looked like this again –
So instead of being grumbly, grumble about it, I went to play. Since we’re still under Stay at Home orders, I didn’t go anywhere that might have other people. I’m lucky that the Ice Age Trail threads around near my house so the car barely got warm and I arrived at the Grandfather Falls Segment. I’ve been on some of it before, but this time I headed down river away from the penstocks instead of upriver toward the dam. I was surprised to see footprints in the snow already. They were from the day before and only went to this spot not far from the parking lot.
The mix of sun and clouds was bound to make for some beautiful photos and I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t long before I got the idea this trail was pretty wet.
There are tons of little streams that spill down the steep sides the river has carved over the ages. Not just here, but all along the Grandfather segment. The steep grade is the reason there is a power station here.
After a while my suspicions were confirmed by another feature of the trail, my favorite thing to find, boardwalks! Of course they were hidden under the blanketing snow, but still – walkways!
Although the trail runs very close to the river, there aren’t a lot of places to get to it safely (at least when buried in snow) and the views mostly look like this –
But if you hike the IAT a lot, you know you can count on there being a bench. Usually placed at the most beautiful or scenic spot on the trail, or by whatever the trail is named for. I found the bench, but didn’t have a seat –
It looks like a lot of snow, but there was less under the trees and it was light, powdery stuff; easy to walk in without snowshoes, which I knew would be a bad idea on this trail. Having walked other parts of it many times I knew it was littered with rocks, roots and stumps. Plus it has little dips and hills that are too cramped for snowshoes.
It was a first-rate day to be out. A little breezy, but not too bad in the trees. Sunny, but with some clouds hanging around. Quiet and solitary. I kept stopping to wonder at the untouched woods.
At least it seemed more untouched than a lot of forest I’ve been in. Maybe because it’s not part of state, county or national forest which are heavily managed in terms of lumber crops. The other side of the river, too, is left to its own devices.
And I found several really big white pines and hemlocks.
Oh and lovely boardwalk. I will have to brave the bugs and come back here in the spring or summer. I bet it’s pretty cool. Buggy, but cool.
Soon I found myself near an unexpected little marsh. It’s only a few dozen feet from the edge of the river and I couldn’t see what created it. A spring? Runoff? A stream still buried under snow? Not sure but I’d like to go back and find out. It’s relatively close to the camping area that the trail runs through so if I want to make a fast check, I can park closer.
I got a little creative with processing some of these.
When I got to the campsite, I made my way back. The lure of the walkways made me linger though. A little bird I never saw clearly flew out from under this one both times I crossed. Not sure what it was, but it was cute and brown and about the size of a cardinal.
Phew this is a long post, huh?
One thing I do when I think of it is to change lenses on the way back to the car. This is if the trail is an out-and-back and not a loop. That way I don’t take the same pictures coming as going. Usually it’s the 12-35 mm lens going out and the 35-100 coming back. This lets me find some slices. And it was mostly things on/in snow.
And of course, a single leaf –
I love the different shades of white depending on the sun or shade.
Soon I was back where I started. My need to get outside satisfied. Happy with my few hours and photos. Glad to find more terrific trail right near the house. As they say, I’ll be back.