Tag Archives: Kettle Moraine State Forest

Spring Hike at Bald Bluff

At some point in early May, it occurred to me that Jason and I were less than a month away from our big summer vacation that would include major hikes and adventuring…and we had been doing nothing more than sitting on our butts for the last several months. Knowing our destination well at this point – Yosemite National Park – I didn’t think it was the best idea to head into this adventure having done no hiking beforehand. So I suggested a Saturday morning hike to Jason.

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We had hiked the Bald Bluff Nature Trail once before several years ago. The trail starts out with a series of switchbacks to get up to the overlook. And if you continue hiking along the intersecting Ice Age Trail, you’ll have to hike back up to the bluff once more to get back to the parking area. With more mountainous hikes in our near future, I thought this made a good choice for working our legs a little.

Bald Bluff isn’t necessarily the most scenic hike, but it is the highest point in the county. So it has that going for it.

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We decided to bring Bailey with us on our hike, which did not make Thea very happy. We have taken both dogs with us hiking a few times, and unfortunately it isn’t much fun. The two together get too excited and feed off of one another’s energy. They become hard to control, which takes the joy out of the whole hike. We were particularly happy we only had one dog with us when we came upon a family with little kids on the trail. Bailey alone was very calm. If we had both dogs, it would have been chaos.

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After reaching the overlook, we continued along the Ice Age Trail for another 15 minutes or so before heading back. This took us much farther into the woods around Bald Bluff than we had gone before. It’s quite pretty. Next time, we have to make sure to keep going all the way to the Stone Elephant (about 1.5 miles along the Ice Age Trail beyond the Bald Bluff overlook).

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Despite having to deal with a few ticks afterwards, we had a nice morning hike. We didn’t hike again until we were in Yosemite, so conditioning ourselves for our trip still didn’t happen (and we paid dearly for it). But at least I had good intentions, if only for a brief moment.

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

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