Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter
We have a great time at our chapter workdays, meetings, and hikes. We are pleased to be able to post some writeups and photos from recent
events on this page. Enjoy!
Workday, May 18, 2013
Pat led a crew of 16 high school youth and adults from the Lake Country Universalist Unitarian Church in Hartland, as they worked in the Foxwood segment removing the invasive species, buckthorn, and repairing tread. The 6-hour workday followed a night of camping out at Nagawaukee County Park. They had beautiful weather for this land stewardship project.
Blazin' Babes, April 25, 2013
It's official! The Blazin' Babes are back by popular demand, for their second season of painting blazes along the Trail, to help guide hikers on their journeys. Barb, Pat, Chris, Kris, and Ann took a short break to marvel at the enormity of a former impedement. No need to blaze this "bad boy", though. The Monches segment is nearing completion before heading off to the next section. The crew meets every Thursday afternoon, so if you would like to be a Blazin' Babe or Blazin' Bud, contact Pat, and she'll be sure to put a paintbrush in your hand!
Strive to Thrive Event, April 20, 2013
The School District of Waukesha, Waukesha Education Foundation, and the City of Waukesha held the 3rd Annual Strive to Thrive Event at Waukesha North High School. The event featured a 5K run, a 3K walk, a 1 mile youth run, and a Zumba performance. Among a dozen health, fitness, and outdoor activity providers, the Ice Age Trail Alliance's Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter had a booth hosted by Kris, Susan, and Robert. They spoke to more than fifty people, including individual participants, families, and mascots, while distributing information.
Chapter Meeting, April 18, 2013
Emily and Larry Scheunemann, from the Walworth/Jefferson County IATA Chapter, stopped over to teach our Chapter members about what they have been learning since they started tracking Wisconsin's wolves. Emily explained the differences between a coyote's and a wolf's coat, paws, skull, and body structure. They shared audio recordings of coyotes and wolves howling, to show the audience the difference between the two. It was fascinating to learn how to tell a dog's paw print from a wolf's, and how to determine where animal scat originated from. Wolf tracking is truly a skill that needs to be developed over time, and takes a huge commitment. We are fortunate to have crossed paths with two of Wisconsin's finest.
We got a double-dose of Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter members at this meeting. Barb and Judy (mammoth), stopped over to tell us about the program that Barb has introduced to many local schools and libraries. "Mammoth Hunt" is an activity for young kids to try to return the lost baby mammoth to his mama. During their travels, the kids experience glaciers, caves, woods, and whatever creative obstacles the coordinator wishes to put together. Barb is hoping to make this program available statewide, so is recruiting retired teachers or others who are interested in working with the real young future trail explorers.
Workday, April 14, 2013
The rain held off long enough for some trail work to get done for a few hours on a cloudy, windy, and cool April day, near the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest Headquarters. Pat and Joyce brought three members of an Illinois Boys Scout troop, Nick, Brian,and Jesse, up to the Stony Ridge segment to help Rob and Jane with replacing three rotted posts. After installing them, the boys learned how to properly sign the posts, and then they all headed over to the SKMSF Headquarters Museum to check out the ice age and other displays. Next, it was back to the shed to clean and return to the tools back to their proper location. They are planning on returning again real soon, to earn more patches.
Workday, April 6, 2013
Ten volunteers and Don, from the Department of Natural Resources, spent a few hours installing an 85-foot split-rail fence, painting and installing a new kiosk, sprucing up the Eagle segment entrance, updating signage, and picking up trash near the Hwy 67 trailhead just south of Eagle. It was a great day for starting our 2013 workday season. Several runners out enjoying the Trail stopped to thank the crew for the work they do, and two families who were packing up after a night in the backpack shelter, visited and had some snacks. To see some before, during, and after photos, please click here.
Volunteer Recognition, March 21, 2013
In 2012, 5,379 volunteer hours, which included 123 different volunteers, were recorded. Anyone who volunteered 20 hours or more, was entered into a drawing for an Owen Gromme print, donated by Roy G. For every 20 hours donated, one chance to win was added to the pool. Glenn R was our lucky winner this year, so congratulations to Glenn, and thanks so much for your generosity and continued support, Roy and Sue.
Woodworking Projects, February 23, 2013
Things don't slow down for too long, even during the winter months. One of the focuses for the 2013 season, will be continuing to work on the signage along the Trail. Kiosks are vital tools that we use to communicate with the public about upcoming events, trail conditions, hunting regulations, and contact information. While Gary and Bob worked to build one of the kiosks that is going to be installed at Hwy 67 and the Monches segment, Pat, Ann, Barb, and Cary tapered and painted about a dozen posts. Posts are placed along the Trail in segments that lack enough trees for blazes. They are typically found at road crossings and through prairies. They provide valuable communication to our hikers, as well. Posts may have the Ice Age National Scenic Trail emblem, a yellow, white, or blue blaze, an arrow, and informationa about rules/regulations. Watch for the posts to help guide you through your next adventure!
First Day Hike, 2013
Wisconsin state parks, including Lapham Peak Unit of Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest participated in the national "First Day Hike" for the second year in a row. Beginning in 2012, the idea was for hikers to be encouraged to hit the trails beginning on the first day of the year. We had 60 - 70 people participate in our hike from the Hausmann Nature Center through wooded areas before ending up at the 45-foot observation tower. There were a couple inches of snow, so some people chose to snowshoe, while others, just wore hiking boots. Thanks to Pat and Rob for leading the hike. Visitors had an opportunity to socialize with each other, as snacks and beverages were provided by the Chapter following the event. It was a snowy, cold, and windy day in Wisconsin, but the diehards were out, celebrating the first day of 2013 on the Ice Age Trail. Click here to view a slideshow presentation of the event.
Land Stewardship Project, December 1, 2012
Eight of Kettle Moraine High School's finest, came out to clear invasive buckthorn and perform other land stewardship duties at Brady's Rocks and the Backpack #2 Shelter. Pat led the crew from Ms. Beck's Ecology Club for three hours of work, and concluded the day with much appreciated hot chocolate. It is a requirement that each of the students enrolled in this program must perform 10 hours of stewardship each quarter. This is also part of their Honors program. Way to go KMHS in Wales!
Hike and Seed Picking, October 6, 2012
About 28 participants joined volunteer, Mike Fort, and Monty the Mammoth, Kevin Kuhlmann, on this cool, Fall day, for a hike at Lapham Peak State Park. The group picked several bags of seeds for later planting in the park’s prairies. With Mike as an interpreter, they walked the 1 and 1/2 mile paved loop and took a short-cut to view the Ice Age Trail where it traverses the park below the observation tower.
Retzer Nature Center Apple Harvest Festival, September 22, 2012
The weather was a little bit chilly and damp this year, but that didn't stand in the way of family fun for those who visited the festival. Unfortunately, the apples were sparse due to the summer drought, but there were still plenty of crafts for the kids, and something new this year, was the challenge of designing scarecrows. Visitors were entertained by local musicians, and vendors had an opportunity to sell their handcrafted items. Our Chapter members handed out informational material and answered questions about the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, while staff members took the kids and their parents on a nature hike around the Retzer Nature Center grounds.
Click here to view a slideshow presentation of the day's events.
Lapham Peak State Park Workday, September 8, 2012
More than 20 eager volunteers, including new REI employees, stepped up with great enthusiasm when the call for help to reroute and repair about 400 feet of existing Ice Age Trail through Lapham Peak was sent out.
The workday included removing invasive buckthorn, installing four new posts, adding signage, creating drainage dips, and building premium tread. Mother Nature helped us out tremendously, by providing a sunny and cool day, which aided in accomplishing everything planned. The new Trail begins at the observation tower toward Evergreen Grove Shelter, and will be continued during our October 13th workday. Pat, with the help of Leah, John, and Jane as her support crew leaders can add another successful workday to the books.
Check out some photos from the day.
Volunteers + Partnerships = Success, August, 2012
A 240-foot boardwalk at Lapham Peak State Park has been one of the Chapter's toughest challenges throughout the years. It traverses through a low wetland area and would buckle and twist throughout the year as the ground thawed and froze, making it even more dangerous on rainy and snowy days.
Throughout two weeks and over a course of five days, several dedicated volunteers from the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter and Friends of Lapham Peak, worked tirelessly to lower, level, and stabilize the boardwalk. They were primarily supervised by Volunteer, Mike Fort, with input by the Chapter's Trail Maintenance Coordinator, Pat Witkowski. Section by section, the crew worked to secure each piece, installing 31 cross braces. Some of the materials used were generously donated by a local Home Depot.
Mike and other Friends of Lapham Peak volunteers also performed land stewardship prior to the boardwalk crew's arrival, by removing invasive buckthorn to expose two of the park's many prestigious oaks.
The finished product is one that is considered by many to be an added treasure to the Lapham Peak section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It will undoubtedly be enjoyed for many years and generations to come.
Wildflower Hike, July 22, 2012
On a very warm morning that started in the 1980's, volunteer, Mike Fort, led a group of 25 folks on a hike through Lapham Peak State Park. They first followed the Ice Age Trail over Garlic Mustard Hill, which is now restored, before seeing an example of a Native American marker tree and cactus. The hikers looped back to meet up with the new blacktop bike trail as they returned to the Evergreen Shelter near the park's entrance.
Despite the drought conditions this Summer, hikers were treated to blooming prairie plants which included Grey Headed Coneflower, Blazing Star, Black-Eyed Susan, White Prairie Clover and Marsh Milkweed. Deep rooted Compass Plants and Hoary Vervain were flowering and appeared to be having an especially good year. Examples of invasive plants such as Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, White and Yellow Sweet Clover, Garlic Mustard and Spotted Knapweed were also discussed. Park volunteers, who spend much of their time removing these invasive plants, had planted over 100 acres of prairie and savannah.
Chapter Meeting, June 22, 2012
Helene Altmann, a 2012 graduate of Arrowhead High School, who began attending UW-Madison in the Fall, was our featured speaker. She recently completed a Girl Scout Gold Award Project located at the Monches segment trailhead because she visits that section of the Trail frequently, and felt it could use some "sprucing up". Helene contacted Retzer Nature Center, and with the staff's guidance, chose native plants that she believed would educate outdoor enthusiasts on some of the plantlife they may encounter while exploring the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The Chapter members and Ice Age Trail Alliance's Executive Director, Mike Wollmer, presented Helene with "Thank -yous" and tokens of appreciation. She presented Pat with her own gift of appreciation for Pat's support and guidance through the project's completion. Be sure to spend some time admiring Helene's efforts the next time you are in the Monches area.
Lapham Peak State Park Workday, June 9, 2012
Thirty-one eager volunteers spent part of their day at Lapham Peak State Park. The weather was in the high 80's, but despite the challenges that accompany excessive heat, in just a couple of hours the group opened up about a quarter mile of neglected trail, located behind Evergreen Grove shelter. They grubbed out invasive buckthorn and cleared the corridor, significantly improving the sightline of the trail. A large section of the trail was widened, which included repairing the tread and stabilizing an old puncheon. The clearing efforts exposed an interesting old oak tree and a view of the pond that was completely blocked from view prior to the crew's efforts.
A very special thanks goes out to REI and Tina Beine for their continued support by recruiting volunteers. In addition, this fantastic partner of ours provided snacks, free t-shirts, and a drawing for a backpack first aid kit, which was won by a local Mobile Skills Crew member and leader, Leah Bradley.
A hike that attracted approximately 100 participants began at the DNR parking lot trailhead in Washington County. We offered two raffles, one that was free and had 18 items and the other that had an Ice Age Trail atlas and backpack donated by REI for prizes. Bandanas, water bottles, and snacks were handed out, including Milk Bone trailmix for our four-legged friends. Participants had an option of hiking about 3.5 miles to the Washington and Waukesha County border, or to continue through the Monches segment for a total of 7.5 miles, which ended at Kilbourn Road. The weather was spectacular and we wrapped things up about 4 1/2 hours after the event began. Thanks to all the hike leaders, sweepers, shuttlers, and organizers of this fantastic event. Please check out our slideshow for photos.
REI Presentation, May 22, 2012
Chris Miller, one of our Chapter's segment thru-hikers who completed the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in December, 2011, shared photos of her adventure with a crowd of about 30 people at the REI store location in Brookfield. Informational brochures were available for the public to pick up. We are grateful for the continued support from our partners at REI.
Lapham Peak Hike, May 19, 2012
Fourteen hikers enjoyed the scenery and beautiful weather at Lapham Peak State Park located near Delafied, Wisconsin. The 3-mile route traversed through kettles, prairies, and wooded areas leading up to, and beyond an observation tower. It was a wonderful family outing and perfect opportunity to meet other outdoor enthusiasts.Photo courtesy of Dave O'Brien