Tag Archives: reading the land

In Praise of Bike Trails

Elroy Sparta Trail Oct 2015In this part of Wisconsin, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by many types of public land: county forests, ruggedly beautiful state parks, a huge national wildlife refuge, and more. But the public lands that I use most often are those strangely unnatural avenues for exploring the natural world: rails-to-trail bike paths.

The phenomenon of converting abandoned rail beds to recreational paths has spread across the continent, but it started right here with the former Chicago and North Western Railroad line that became the Elroy-Sparta Trail in 1965. Continue reading

Winter Melts

For those of us who are drawn to flowing water, a spring thaw holds special allure. I took a late-afternoon walk today through the village of Kendall, six miles upstream from my home. There the Baraboo River, barely three miles old, gushed noisily between its soggy banks. I could see how far the stream had risen by the number of saplings that were surrounded by rushing current.

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Scouting the Marsh

Otter tracks on the ice.

Otter tracks on the ice.

In Sauk County, where Highway 33 follows the Baraboo River down a gentle incline toward the Wisconsin River, there’s a large wetland that I’ve often admired, especially on fine days when the water glistens in the sun. But whenever I’m driving down Highway 33, I’m on my way to…someplace. So I never stop.

Today, when the temperature rose toward thirty degrees and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I said to my husband, Mark, “Let’s take a walk.” Continue reading