Happy Ice Age Trails

Life is a journey!

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.                                                         Pink Floyd — Time

I know the feeling well.  At first I didn’t think it was a race, then, for many years I acted like it was.  The thing is, I didn’t know where I was racing to.  I didn’t have directions or principles; I didn’t know right from wrong!

It’s been four years since my rite of passage i.e., my bout with cancer, and over three years since I retired — more like quit — my job with Mother Mutual.  Now I’m on a long hike, searching for truth amongst the oaks, and seeking a balance between carrying a light pack and being prepared for trouble ahead.

I’m really glad I decided to camp and hike in the Allegheny National Forest on my way to and from Philadelphia for the Free Your Mind III conference.  The Minister Creek Campground was a perfect mid-point for the journey and a great base camp to explore the Allegheny Plateau.


Most of the campsites were still covered with ice and snow, but I found one that would work and soon had a nice wood pile thanks to my chainsaw.  I had two full days of hiking to collect my thoughts and the obvious first choice was the Minister Creek Trail.

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The view from the Minister Valley Overlook (note the sunny version below.)


The North Country Trail, like the Ice Age Trail, is a National Scenic Trail and I hiked a section near Tracy Ridge that took me to the shores of the Allegheny Reservoir.


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The conference in Philadelphia was great.  I met a righteous dude named Pete to share my hotel room with, and continued in “camping mode” by cooking my fresh vegetables, rice and curry lentil staple beneath a beautiful white pine in the back corner of the hotel parking lot.  The highlight of the conference for me was the presentation by Jeanice Barcelo.  She contrasted giving birth in a hospital setting to home birthing and helped me understand how traumatic the hospital birthing process can be for both mother and child.  Some of us carry undiagnosed birth trauma with us our whole lives not realizing the impact it is having.

Below, Mark Passio‘s presentation and the “Meeting of the Minds” conference wrap up.

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I stopped at Minister Creek on the way home and had a couple of sunny days to continue exploring.


The Hickory Creek Wilderness in the Hearts Content Recreation Area is just north of Minister Creek.  I wish I’d had this map when I took the hike; the trail was very difficult to locate and I literally spent 5-10 minutes on multiple occasions looking for the next marker.


It’s good to be home and I can barely imagine how my African Queen, Pati, feels today as she makes the return trip from her 6 week adventure in South Africa and Uganda, where she has been working with special needs children.  Welcome home Pati!

Ever since I rediscovered the sections of the Ice Age Trail that are just east of the Scuppernong Springs last winter,


and learned of all the trail building projects that Pat Witkowski has been leading there, I’ve been looking forward to joining the effort.  This past Saturday, April 18, Pat and her team from the IATA partnered with REI to pull off a very successful trail reroute workday.  Here is a flashback to my visit with Pat where she described the 280 yard reroute that we executed on Saturday.

Tina Pickruhn organized things from the REI perspective and she had to turn down dozens and dozens of volunteers, a testament to the reputation of the Waukesha/Milwaukee chapter of the IATA and the desire for people to get involved.  Pat enlisted the help of a fourteen highly trained Mobile Skills Crew team leaders to teach and guide the volunteers.

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Below, Pat introduces the project and fires up the volunteers.



I joined the “Esker” team, led by Rita and Jo.  Below they explain how to use and handle the tools.

We stopped often along the 20 minute hike to the job site to note the spectacular Kettle Moraine features and the work already accomplished by the IATA volunteers.  The work crews spread out over the 280 yard reroute and we got after it!  Carl, Jo and Rita sharing a laugh.


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Pat shows us how to use a cool tool for ripping out buckthorn.

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Check out the buzz…

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The results are fabulous!

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Pat and Tina celebrating.


After lunch I headed over to The Springs to replace signpost #4, near the marl pit bridge, which Anne Korman speculates was stolen by a Brett Farve fan.


It won’t be so easy to rip off this time.  Then I continued rehabilitating brush pile burn rings near the marl factory by disbursing the ash and covering the rings with organic material.  And finally, I took a relaxing stroll around the trails and noted that Andy Buchta had finished piling ALL of the buckthorn I cut in the waning weeks of Winter.  Thanks Bro!

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Here is what the north end of the trail looks and sounds like now!

Happy Ice Age Trails to you until we meet again at The Springs!


I’m celebrating true freedom from the mental chains of law and government! I was recently introduced to the work of Marc Stevens, who stands tall on the shoulders of people like: Lysander Spooner, author of No Treason (audio here), Frederic Bastiat, author of The Law (audio here), and Etienne de la Boetie, author of The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude.

Marc’s book, Adventures In Legal Land,

is an evolution of the principals of true freedom espoused by the aforementioned authors applied to our current political, legal systems. Don’t go to court without reading this book! I have been studying history and philosophy searching for the truth, which is the key to happiness according to Aristotle, and now I finally understand. Our Political “law” is nothing but the arbitrary WILL OF MEN and WOMEN. Government exists to direct and control our minds; the “State” is a figment of our collective imaginations. The Constitution is a “written instrument” that was only witnessed, not signed. It is not a binding contract (which must include an offer, acceptance, a meeting of the minds and consideration) on ME.

If the Catholic Church declared that my home was located in a “parish” that the pope drew on a map and that I must pay tithes to support their god works, I would laugh at them. Government is no different; it’s based on belief, faith and, ultimately, on violence and coercion. What facts and evidence do government bureaucrats have to prove that they have jurisdiction i.e., control, over me, and that their codes apply to me? They will point to the “law”, the arbitrary will of men, as if that were evidence that the laws apply to me. Shame on these sophists and their fallacious circular reasoning! I don’t believe in their “state” and their “laws”. They’re noth’in but a badge and a gun! Free your mind!

Those were my thoughts on Independence Day as I worked the brush cutter at the Hartland Marsh and later, The Springs. I had to visit the “grandfather” oak before I got started. Here is the trail leading from the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property to the junction of the Village of Hartland and Ice Age Trail properties.



The Mystery Island



The Patriarch



Back at the Parker Brothers’ homesite



Looks like a job for the “river rats



Here is the trail on the Village of Hartland property just below the gazebo on Cottonwood Ave.


A couple video perspectives

Out on the boardwalk, which I was trimming.


After finishing the trail maintenance for this year at the Marsh, I went to The Springs to pull some weeds. I thought the white clover at the marl pit bridge would pull right out, like the hoary alyssum on the sand prairie, but it was quickly evident that I’d need the brush cutter again.



Crown vetch

I’m adjusting my game plan regarding scheduling work and what to focus on to recognize when the best time to strike at the weeds may be. The goal is to reduce the invasive species, using as little poison as possible, by preventing them from going to seed whether by pulling or cutting. Buckthorn alley will have to wait.

Pati peddled her bike out from Milwaukee and we had a picnic dinner at Ottawa Lake followed by fireworks at Pewaukee Lake; a very nice day. I’ll be back around the 15th.

See you at The Springs!

Scuppernong Safari

Come along as Jon Bradley takes us on his recent amazing adventure at the Scuppernong Springs!

If you are receiving this post via email by subscribing to this site, you can click, or double click, the pictures to display them full screen; well worth it for Jon’s beautiful photographs. If you hover your mouse over a picture and a youtube link appears, follow it.

The last time out, I was taking sunset photos from the marl pit canal and noticed someone hanging out on the bridge; it was Jon…

I had a blast at The Springs this past Thursday night, Friday, and Saturday morning. I hit the trail 5 times but only went through the whole thing once, I mostly stuck around the Marl Pits. Admittedly, I wanted to check out the new cut-off trail but couldn’t see a definitive trail.

As you saw, I installed the Tree Swallow house on Thursday afternoon. I saw a ton of Tree Swallows around that area, so it was definitely a fantastic place to put it. (Just an FYI there is a loose nail on the left side of the front, which can be pulled out to swing open the front if it ever needs to be cleaned out. It’s something I never really knew about before but read it online and figured I’d install it on that one since it’ll be at the trail, hopefully for many years to come.)


During sunset I saw this Snapping Turtle and Blandings Turtle on each side of the Marl Pit Bridge.



These Spiderwort plants were everywhere. They sure do have a nice color to them, don’t they?


I’ve never actually been to The Springs during sunset before, it was definitely worth seeing, and thankfully the mosquitoes weren’t too bad around the Marl Pit area, compared to to the first stretch of trail where they were swarming.




Friday morning at the Springs was fantastic. I hit the whole trail and enjoyed watching the springs from quite a few locations along the trail. It was a quiet day with no one on the trail and not too much traffic going by so it was a pretty relaxing stroll.



This muskrat was working all day long on its den in the largest Marl Pit.


I always have a good time hanging around the main spring, though the mosquitoes were so thick around it, I chose to continue on after a minute or two.

A few other photos I took at the trail include Sandhill Cranes at the entrance, another large Snapping Turtle in a Marl Pit (it’s markings seem to match up with the one I saw on the previous day), and a tiny Painted Turtle in the large Marl Pit.




I also got a few interesting photos at Ottawa Lake. I just missed out on this Snapping Turtle laying her eggs by the pier.



During one last bike ride around the park, I found this small Snapper by the beach parking lot and saved it from getting run over. Hopefully it headed straight back to the lake.


I’m already looking forward to my next trip out there!

(ed. note,

Just in, here is a great video tour of The Springs that Jon put together.

See you at The Springs!)

Scuppernong River Bridge Cleared

We got a nice mention in the latest issue of the Scuppernong Journal.  It is published by the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association, S91 W39091 Hwy 59, Eagle, WI 53119  Ron Kurowski editor.  Address questions and comments to the editor at (262) 363-9892.  Please consider supporting the KMNHA and you will receive your very own copy of the Scuppernong Journal in the mail.

On August 7th I spent the day clearing brush and Willows by the 3rd bridge over the Scuppernong River (counting from the first Spring).  This is where the dam used to be that Ben Heussner mentioned that was removed in 1993.  There were a lot of fairly large Willows that were beginning to fill in the area along with some smaller buckthorn and other brush.

Here are short before and after videos.