A Little Birdie Told Me
(to wear good boots when hiking in spring)
The blooms they are a popping and the birds they are a chirping. Bunnies and robins alike are doing their annual backyard hops. As spring has most certainly sprung, the time seems ripe for hiking and getting out in nature. Every year, AJ Page and I get cabin fever to do just that on a cherished Sunday off together – about this time. Every year we head out to hit the trails, hopefully discovering a new one. And every year we start out overly optimistic – and return with soggy shoes and feet. The lesson to be learned: Before June, save your sneaks an extra tumble in the wash machine. Wear your hiking boots. Please.
This year, we headed out to a birding trail. Apparently the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website has a whole detailed section devoted to this. There are 64 some designated locations. Who knew? We settled on the Tichigan State Wildlife Area. It is near Waterford on the way to Madison, and an easy leisurely hour drive out of Milwaukee. The area surrounding Tichigan Lake boasts Sandpipers, wood ducks, Great Egrets, and even terns nest there. (No, really.) You may spot a rare Blanding turtle.
As AJ and I blazed out on the start of the dirt trail, we did notice some red-tails gliding lazily overhead. Everything was in the early stages of coming to life. As we ventured farther into the forest portion however, it looked like a good portion of gnarly oaks may have fallen victim to some tree disease, either dying or being cut down. Still, gnarly oaks are gnarly oaks – striking in their own right. The trails are surrounded by peaceful views of farm country, and a cornfield looked like it would provide prime grazing for wild turkeys when in season. By the look of the shotgun shells littered about, the area looked to be popular with hunters, as well. Happily on our walk, we enjoyed near-total seclusion throughout. Our mistake was trying to navigate the marsh.
The beginning looked pretty wet, with lots of dense grass layered on top. When tested, it was spongy. We certainly didn't think we'd sink in up to our ankles. So after several leaps and curse words later, we realized a quarter way in, that this may not have been the wisest notion. We couldn't tell if the terrain got better or worse up around a bend. Undecided, we hesitated. Then I suggested to AJ, who was already a few feet ahead of me, "You check it out. Let me know if it gets any better around the corner. I'll just stay here."
After disappearing around the tall grass, wildflowers, and brush, he concluded that it was more of the same. Several more curses later, we leapt to dry land once again, squishing and squeaking along. All in all, we had a good laugh, enjoyed a good near-hour workout, and promised to plan more appropriately for next year. Ooh – we saw a cool frog on the way out, too!
Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail, Lake Michigan Region