May 27, 2013

Please join me for a hike

marker

Come along with me as I explore John Muir’s childhood stomping grounds. This plot of land is a National Historic Landmark, located about midway between Portage and Montello, Wis.

Let’s head for the trail.

muirhistory

earlylife

First, we stop to read about John Muir, the father of the U.S. National Park System. As a boy, he emigrated from Scotland with his family in 1849, and moved to this Wisconsin property, which the family named “Fountain Lake Farm.”

map

A map of the area surrounding the lake shows a rich diversity of ecosystems.

invasives sign

bootcleaner

We make sure to clear nonnative hitchhiker seeds off our boots. Along this trail, we will see native plant life common to Oak openings, fens, wet mesic prairies, Sedge meadows, and Oak woodlands.

youngoak1

One of the first things we notice is the beauty of young Oak trees—and how plentiful they are here.

milkweed

Also noteworthy—several species of Milkweed, likely including Asclepias incarnata, A. syriaca, A. tuberosa, and A. purpurascens. (Mental note: Check back later in the summer to positively ID and to watch for Monarchs!)

lake1

As we hike across the mesic prairie, we see a pleasant view of Ennis Lake beyond the native grasses and shrubs.

zizia

And wildflowers, like Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea).

willows

willows2

In the fen, there’s a nifty stand of Meadow Willow (Salix petiolaris).

strawberry

And plentiful wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana).

raspberries

The Black Raspberry canes (Rubus occidentalis) show signs of plentiful fruit this season.

youngoak3

youngoak2

youngoak4

In another Oak opening, more young Oaks show their stunning colors.

falseanemone

geranium

False Rue Anemone (Enemion biternatum) and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).

lake2

Another pleasant view of Ennis Lake across the next Sedge meadow. As we enter a large Oak opening, the vegetation dramatically shifts to mature Oaks, Hickories, and woodland plants.

blueberry

Notable understory plants here include Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium),

horsetail

And Horsetail Reed (Equisetum hyemale).

lake3

Another pleasant view of Ennis Lake at the opposite end—we’re about halfway done with our hike. Don’t worry—only about one more mile. We enter another Sedge meadow, where we could spend hours identifying plants. But there’s so much more to see.

galium

One that catches our eye is hard to identify without the flowers. Is it Northern Bedstraw (Galium boreale), some type of Lily, or something else?

dogwood

The red twigs of Dogwoods (Cornus sericea) catch our attention as we move from the Sedge meadow to the Oak woodland.

bridge

We cross a creek on a quaint bridge and head for the forest. Large, mature Oaks ahead.

chokecherry

But first we notice Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) reaching for the sky.

forest

Here we go … into the woods!

bittercress

These tiny white flowers have a unique shape. Looks like Bittercress (Cardamine spp.)?

columbine

geraniumsolomon

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Wild Geraniums (Geranium maculatum), and Star Solomon Seal (Maianthemum stellatum) greet us along the way.

forest2

The view along the stream bed.

lake4

Almost the end of the trail.

honeysuckle

This plant must be a type of Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens?).

And…

juniper

soccer

We’re out of the woods and greeted by a giant Juniper tree and an open field showing signs of a recent soccer game.

We vow to come back when the Milkweeds and the Lilies are blooming. (Mental note: Bring mosquito/tick repellent and don't expect cell phone reception next time either.)

lilacs

What a pleasant walk on a cool, cloudy spring day! And a good way to remember a man who made a difference.

To read more about Muir's first years in Wisconsin and the subsequent uses and restorations of this historic plot of land, click here.

41 comments:

  1. Wow, that is beautiful and would make anyone want to see what else is out there.

    We have visited Muir Woods on the Pacific Coast and I marveled at his vision. It's nice to know where that vision began.

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    1. It's not a majestic place like the Pacific Coast. Like most natural areas in Wisconsin, it's gentle and simple, but incredibly beautiful in its own way. :)

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  2. Beth what a fabulous hike...I love the way you have to wipe your feet...and so many of my favorite wildflowers and natives...I can't wait until you go back to see the milkweed!

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Yeah, I think I caught it at a transitional time--still lovely, but after the spring ephemerals and before the waterlilies, Milkweed, and summer bloomers. In a way, it was a good time to visit because you see more of the structure of the place. I have to say, the young, developing Oaks were the standouts!

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    1. I agree, Nicholas. I know it's a special place for you, and very close to your home. I've only been there a couple of times, so I have a lot more to learn about it. Your winter posts at the park are great!

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  4. What a wonderful place to call home. I can see how he could walk there everyday. So many things to see along the way. Love all the milkweed and that you have to clean your shoes before the hike. We are reminded to do that in the North Georgia mountain trails too. It is really surprising what people pick up on their shoes. Thanks for sharing your marvelous walk.

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    1. Yeah, and one of the best things about it is that it's not very busy--even on Memorial Day weekend. There were a few people there, but I was alone on the hike and only two groups crossed my path. A great place to unwind, reflect, and breathe fresh air.

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  5. What a beautiful walk...so lovely to see such a variety of wildflowers, and natives.

    JEn

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    1. Yes, the plant diversity is incredible. And it's really fun to see the types of plants change as you move through the different ecosystems. So much more to explore!

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  6. You had a wonderful tour in a great location. I love your photos. Is horsetail allowed there? They eradicate it here and Cornell marks where it is growing.

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    1. Thanks! Good question about the Horsetail. I was thinking the same thing. I was reading an article about how it's one of the few plants that's native around the world. It's also a very primitive, ancient plant. I have happy memories of it from childhood, but I know it can be quite invasive. But it's not listed on the invasive species list, because it's native. In the woods at the park, it was growing in a limited area. Next time I go, I'll check and see if there's more of it there.

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  7. what a wonderful walk.. i could almost feel the cool breeze and the smell of the plants.. must have been lovely!

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    1. Thanks! It was the perfect temperature for light exercise. Not the best for summer sports, but that heat will come soon enough. ;-)

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  8. It always surprises me that John Muir lived in Wisconsin because I think of him as Californian. Muir woods outside of San Francisco are amazing! Your hike looks beautiful. Clever idea to brush away any foreign seeds. :o) I never knew garlic mustard was so invasive.

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    1. I grew up learning about him because of his beginnings here, but I have to admit I think of him more as a Californian, too. Muir Woods is incredible! The dramatic beauty of the western part of this great country is quite alluring! Yes, Garlic Mustard is a problem here. Apparently, a lot of our ancestors brought it over as a culinary flavoring. Unfortunately, it has displaced so many native plants, especially spring ephemerals.

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  9. Hubby and I love to hike and I enjoyed going along with you....this is a beautiful hike. I've never seen a boot cleaner on a trail before...very interesting. The last time we hiked I knelt down to tie my shoe and was two feet from a water moccasin...we quickly moved on. Thanks for taking me along!

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    1. Thanks, Christy. I'm not a big fan of high-impact, group exercise, but I thoroughly enjoy a good hike in the great outdoors! Plus, it's something you can do for most of your life. Wisconsin has the boot cleaners at most of its parks now. And I think they all list Garlic Mustard as the main culprit. I'll have to watch out for water moccasins!

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  10. never thought guiltily of the seeds on my hiking boots. What deep care, to remind hikers of their own two feet of responsibility for nature.

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    1. For quite a few years now, we've had the reminders at our parks and outdoor gardens. Apparently spelunkers have to clean their shoes now, too, before they go into caves. A fungus is killing off a lot of our North American bats, and it's thought that cleaning shoes and clothing before and after visiting caves might help to control the spread of the fungus.

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  11. Lovely place for a hike. I never saw purple milkweed growing in the wild before.

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    1. Yes, it's an easy hike, and if you simply walk it, it's a short one-mile jaunt. Of course, it took my a while because I kept snapping the camera. ;-) I can't say for sure that it was Purple Milkweed because it wasn't marked. It is native here, though, although it's endangered. I'll let you know if I see any when I go back to the park later this summer.

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  12. That was very enjoyable. I have never seen the feet wiper thingy before but what a good idea.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Patty. I sure did. Wouldn't it be fun if we could all join up for a hike together? One of these days, I'll make it to the Garden Bloggers' Fling. And of course, there's the Italy trip next year! I agree--the boot cleaner is a good thing!

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  13. That was quite a hike. Ther is great interest in native plants in our area, including Nasami FArm, the propagation arm of the New England Wildflower Society. What a beautiful place this is.

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    1. Yes, it's a great place for an easy hike. And if you're interested in diverse plant communities and ecosystems, it's a good learning environment. I'm curious about Nasami Farm--sounds like a great organization!

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  14. What a beautiful, peaceful place for a hike! Thanks for taking us along; I'm not even winded:). I've never seen the shoe scraper device either, but that's a clever idea to prevent unwanted species. The mature oak trees are magnificent.

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    1. Tee hee. It's a pretty easy hike--relatively level and no difficult terrain. There's just a bit of an incline into the forest, but it's quite pleasant. The boot scrapers are common at our state parks.

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  15. I have been to Muir Woods in SF but this hike was unknown to me. Just lovely and thanks for taking us all along.

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    1. My pleasure. :) Muir Woods is incredible, too. Much more majestic, but sometimes simple beauty is just as wonderful.

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  16. Thanks for taking us along with you on your hike. It is great to think this is what John Muir saw that inspired him to become the naturalist he was. I had not really thought of those hitchhiker seeds before; now I will be more aware. The shoe scraper is a good idea.

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    1. Hi Deb: It's weird--you almost sense Muir's presence at the park. Or you just imagine what it must have been like for him. It's a very simple place, but very peaceful--like a lot of parks and wild places in the Midwest.

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  17. It looks so peaceful. The photos of the fen and the stream are beautiful. I've never seen a shoe wiper device like that either. I will need to be more mindful before I go on my next hike and check my shoes.

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    1. Thanks! Interesting...I figured the boot scrapers were common around the country, but I guess not. I think it's a great idea, too.

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  18. I enjoyed the hike! It was cool, especially, to see the Golden Alexander in the wild.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Sue. Yes, I thought about that when I saw it on your blog. Very pretty plant. It seemed very happy at the park, too. :)

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  19. That was a very pleasant walk. Thank you for taking us along. I love those newly opening oak leaves.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! It was a wonderful way to spend the day and think about this unique individual.

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  20. What a lovely walk, and really interesting to see your natives.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! It will be interesting to go back and see what's blooming in midsummer.

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  21. Beautiful, I enjoyed "visiting" the Muir family farm. It's so different from the country I know him from (mountains)!

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