Category Archives: Hiking

Our First Candlelight Hike

One of the things I want to do in 2012 is have regular “date nights” with Jason. It’s not that we don’t spend time with one another – we’re together a lot. But most of the time, we hang out at home. If we go out for dinner, it’s often a random decision based more on laziness than specialness. We’ll switch off each month planning our date night – January was my month.

For our inaugural date night, I chose the 5 O’Clock Club for dinner followed by a candlelight hike at nearby Lapham Peak in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The 5 O’Clock Club is supper club in Pewaukee (outside of Milwaukee). I trolled around Urbanspoon looking for good options near Lapham Peak, and I found this to be the best option based on ratings and the menu. Jason is a supper club kind of guy.

I started my meal with the homemade rosemary fries with garlic aioli. OMG! These were incredible! The fries were seasoned just right, and the garlic aioli added the right punch of flavor. I highly recommend these fries. Jason ordered mozzarella sticks. They were made with wonton wrappers, and Jason liked that a stick of fried cheese could taste lighter.

For my entree, I went with the chicken caesar salad. I got adventurous and added anchovies. The salad was good, not great. I was kind of surprised I didn’t like it more based on how salty it was. The kalamata olives and anchovies were a bit much even for me. Jason had the “classic cluck,” a large, fried chicken half. It was massive! The meat was very juicy, but the fried batter wasn’t super flavorful. We finished our dinner with a tasty – and free – slice of cheesecake. It was a good ending to a nice meal.

After dinner, we headed to Lapham Peak. Jason and I had never visited this unit of the Kettle Moraine, so we weren’t completely sure where we were going. After entering the park, we turned into the first parking lot we saw – a lot full of cars and people walking around. We got out of the car and walked towards what appeared to be the trail. I was mildly concerned that everyone had skis – it was a ski/hike event. There was also no candlelight, but actual lights. We didn’t see any signage and no one said anything, so we started off on our hike.

About 10 minutes down the trail, a cross-country skier stopped us and kindly let us know that other skiers would likely get upset with us walking on the cross-country trail. We explained our confusion, and he pointed us further down the road. We were grateful that someone guided us – not one of the other people we passed, including the person at the entrance section, bothered to point us in the right direction. So, we high-tailed it back to the car and headed down the road. We quickly found ourselves in the right location.

The trail was a one-mile loop lit with milk jug luminaries. Temperatures were around 10°, but I managed to stay warm in my Columbia thermal base layers – long sleeve top and tights – and Heat Elite jacket.

We hiked for about half an hour. It was tougher than I anticipated – the snow really throws off one’s balance – and it made for a good workout. Jason and I were both sore on Sunday. Some people did have snowshoes, but I didn’t think using my snowshoes for the first time in the dark was such a good idea. Maybe next time.

Hiking in 2011

Similar to what happened in 2010, Jason and I were really good about getting out to hike every week…until after our summer vacation. To be honest, our motivation to hike this past year diminished greatly once we found out our Yosemite High Sierra Camp loop trip was cancelled  🙁

Despite not getting out nearly as much as I would have liked, here is a look back at our 2011 hikes.

How Many John Muir Trails Are There In the World?

Backpacking Recon

Ice Age Trail Near Lone Tree Bluff

Ice Age Trail, Pre-Downpour

National Trails Day 2011

National Get Outdoors Day 2011

Ice Age Trail, Scuppernong River Habitat Area

Ice Age Bust

Hiking Lembert Dome (THE hike this year)

Dark Hollow Falls

Stony Man

Shenandoah National Park: Stony Man

Jason and I snuck in one last hike before we left Shenandoah National Park. Starting from the Skyland area was the Stony Man Trail. Proximity and a difficulty level of “easy” made it an ideal choice. But easy definitely didn’t mean boring.

It was a 1½-mile round trip hike to the summit of Stony Man Mountain, the second highest peak in Shenandoah.

I can officially say I’ve hiked along the Appalachian Trail. It overlapped with the first portion of the Stony Man Trail. I was rather geeked out by this  🙂

Appalachian Trail Marker

Appalachian Trial that way…

Stony Man Trail

Stony Man cliffs this way…

Stony Man Trail

Hidden Acorn

It was on the verge of raining the entire time, but it never really got going. I think the mist added a little something to the whole scene.

Misty Mountains in the Morning

At first, the trail felt very similar to the Ice Age Trail. Then suddenly, it didn’t.

Stony Man Trail

Jason spotted rub marks left by deer.

Deer Rub Marks

The rock cliffs of Stony Man put us at 4,010 feet above sea level.

Stony Man Summit

Blue Ridge Mist

Jason at the Summit

Ice and wind shape the gnarled trees. The lichens all over everything are courtesy of the weather conditions: frequent fog and rain alternating with drying winds. It was creepy, yet really cool.

Exploring the Summit

And from the summit of Stony Man, we could look over Skyland Resort…

We stayed right there
We Stayed Here

As we drove along Skyline Drive leaving the park, we made sure to pull into the Stony Man Overlook for a picture. Can you see him?

Stony Man

The top is his forehead, which is where we climbed to. Then there is space for his eyes, his long rock nose, and his tree-covered beard. He is looking to the west and slightly upward to the sky.

—-

I must say that I really enjoyed Shenandoah National Park. It was very different than the other national parks we have visited, but different doesn’t mean worse. It is special in its own way.

It would be an ideal place for a beginning backpacker. And most importantly, I didn’t fear for my life  😉  Actually, we found the threat-related differences the most interesting. There are bears, but the warnings about bear encounters are few and far between. There’s no mention of mountain lions, although according to Jason it is their ideal habitat. I love that he made this remark at the top of Stony Man, with ¾ of a mile of wooded, rocky, mist-shrouded forest between us and the car  😐

I almost forgot to mention that we were lucky enough to see a bear. We were aware that bears are in the park, but sightings are rare. As we continued out of the park, I spotted a big, black blob moving in the woods just off the road. I yelled to Jason just in time for him to stop. No picture, but we had an incredible view of a small black bear, chasing a deer no less. And this black bear was black, unlike the cinnamon-colored ones in California. We were so pumped!

Technically, Shenandoah is only a day’s drive from home…a very long day’s drive. But I definitely want to go back again to explore more of the park.

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