Time on the trail usually is a warped subject. It's been several days since we began our trek within the bounds of Wisconsin, and the experience feels as if weeks have passed by us. The habitats are by far not habitual, seemingly rotating and morphing into new expressions of potential variability. A Pine Siskin and an American Tree Sparrow inaugurated the beginning of our long journey by venturing within feet of us as if to say wildlife shall be close to us in every way conceivable. Along the St. Croix River a female Eastern Bluebird took a break from laying on her eggs in a dead snag as if specifically to welcome us into a grand new land while a bald eagle aborted it's attempt at snagging a dead fish from the river to land in a tree near us to take the unusual sight of us fully within. It is these mutual connections and relationships that provides for a spark in life which heightens the beauty witnessed in any atmosphere.
Carpets of trout lilies and various assortments of anenomies splashed color upon the earth. Marsh marigolds and buttercups gifted yellow to our eyes whereas spring beauty and Bloodroot blanketed the forest understory with white and pink. Both spring beauty and the onion tasting ramps provided us with trail side snacks.
What are the odds that we saw our only Wren next to Cafe Wren in the small trail town of Luck. Brook and Stephanie treated us voyagers well with great food and spirited conversation. The pheasants and chipmunks along the Gandy Dancer Rail-trail were plump from the all you can eat corn buffet lining our way towards and into Lake and Marsh country. The ticks began to beg for attention, but instead, we gave it to the wet mink that came out fresh from a small Lake. Straight Lake was amazing with its loons, swans, and geese always seemingly excited to share their true feelings with one another. The fish even were jumping as the sand hill cranes hunted in the nearby marshes where the beavers were engineering ponds. Life is certainly equal to Abundance, and hiking a long distance trail truly teaches a participating Hiker how to really live and feel alive.
With a great talk with the Polk County Ice Age Trail Chair and his wife and with fresh water to carry with us, we camped on a ridge above a pond where we were chorused by frogs that seemed to chirp like hungry baby birds. Bats dove down just above our heads and the turkeys called out one last time before the day shift went to bed.
The hunters towering shelters provided for easy viewing of the sandhill cranes who were ritualisticly dancing with one another. Following the edges of recently plowed over corn fields, we made our way into Lake country where trumpeter swans flew over our heads and where wood ducks were contemplating using nesting boxes. At McKenzie Creek, black capped chickadees alerted us to look down into the water where fresh water clams were obviously a meal to some animal such as a river otter. Two bears then tore away through the brush in an attempt to escape the smell of us.
The ticks however now became relentless. We each must have discarded over a hundred blood suckers each, many even hiding within our shoes. A downy woodpecker however tapped out in Morse code that everything would be all right. This was reaffirmed by the fun sightings of pond turtles resting on logs and thru the synchornistic meeting of our first day hikers on the trail. Keith, Anthony, and Nathan were the father and brother and nephew of Balls.... The famous triple crown thru hiker whose young daughter Sunshine is the youngest person to complete all three major long distance trails. We actually met them in 2013 on the Continental Divide Trail in Yellowstone National Park. With the barred owl hooting its good night call to us, we once more slept under the stars.
Stacey witnessed a first for us by discovering a Fisher racing through the woods. Horseback riders smiled and laughed with along the way. And now we were taken in for the afternoon and for the night in Barnonett by the creation of instant friends and kindred spirits that we both shall always treasure.