The weather for this trip was unbelievable. I know the word perfect is sometimes over used, but this weekend was pretty close to it. The days came with bright sunshine broken occasionally by a passing cotton puff, highs in the upper 60's, and over night lows in the mid to upper 40's kept the bugs at bay. I've attached some pictures below and I will post more in later posts. Here's the rundown on my trip:
My wife dropped me off at the group camp a little shy of 2 miles north of the first shelter. I hiked in, snapping plenty of pictures, basking in the sun hanging low over the bare forests. This was my first time in this part of Kettle Moraine, and the glacial terrain is just downright neat. Having not been to these shelters before, I had a moment of disappointment when I thought I had arrived after a very short hike, but a quick map check and I was reminded the trail passes through a picnic area. When I arrived at the shelter, I found myself the first arrival, and spying decent hill just beyond camp, decided to climb up and check out the view. While I was up there, looking down at the Greenbush Kettle, I heard voices and saw Tumbleweedz and his two sons-in-law heading up the trail from the south.
We all met up at the shelter, introductions were made, and we all started setting up as dark rolled in. The highlight of the night was finding out choppe3 (I think that's his forum name here, Hopefully Tumbleweedz will correct me if I'm wrong here) had packed in a four pack of Tallgrass Velvet Rooster to share (delicious beer by the way, first try for me). We got our fire started courtesy of some embers left by whomever was there before us, I'd chastise in my best smokey the bear voice and was a little annoyed at the thought, but at least we've had a really wet April around here. Cooked our dinners, and chatted briefly around the fire, basking under a surprisingly bright moon before turning in for the night.
Day two started with a nice sunrise. I slept a little chilly, and know I need to do some more reading around the forums to find better solutions than I'm using currently. As we were just about finished packing up and getting ready to start the hike South to shelter 4, Lorax strolled up to the camp from the north. Introductions all around, and a bit of conversation followed, then we all hit the trail. I really enjoyed the transitions between hardwood forest, pine forest, and open land. The glacial land features are pretty cool as well.
As we walked, we had a fair amount of good conversation across a wide range of topics. With Lorax's arrival, I found I was the youngest on the trip, but I really appreciated the patience the whole gang showed with my youth and inexperience. The tolerated my game of twenty questions well, and shared such a wealth of information, I almost wish I had been taking notes.
We made it to shelter 4, and had a nice chat with a couple we met on the trail. We had seen very few people when we were in and around shelter 5, but there were plenty of folks on the trails near shelter 4 and Parnell tower, which we hiked up to twice. The first was after going to retrieve some water from the spigot in the parking lot, we headed up for a look before going back to camp. We returned to the tower with the intention of watching the sunset from the high vantage point, but we timed it wrong and were about 30 minutes too early. Myself and maybe another in the group complained about rumbling bellies, so we walked back to camp, watched the sunset from a high spot near the camp, and raided our respective food bags.
Another fire, a good bit of conversation, and off to hang. I wasn't as cold this night as I followed Lorax's advice and set up about halfway down one side of a valley, and that sheltered me from the wind, and I also zipped into my bag instead of using it as a TQ like the first night. The best thing about night two was the lack of bugs and absence of forecast precipitation gave me the nerve to sleep topless and netless. Swaying softly, and looking at the stars up through the bare treetops was a view well worth the price of admission, no doubt about it.
Woke up in the morning, had breakfast and coffee, and more conversation. I lost track of time, and turned my phone on at almost exactly the time I was supposed to have met my wife at the parking lot for the ride home. A hasty pack up and goodbye, and I hustled along the trail back to the Parnell Tower lot. Settled into the car for a long ride home telling my wife all about a great weekend and meeting a great group of guys. (who turned out not to be serial killers after all.)