Weekend Wandering

Hickory Hills Park {Saturday} :: Winter Hiking

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Dudgeon Lake State Wildlife Management Area {Sunday} :: Cross-Country Skiing

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Snow Wigwam :: Our New Guest House

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We spent Saturday & Sunday close to home, wandering. Wandering quite literally, actually, something Coralee & Merritt apparently do not enjoy if it means breaking trails with their skis on through reeds taller than themselves–oops!

On Saturday we drove northwest into neighboring Tama County to visit Hickory Hills Park. I have never seen a Snow Bunting, a fact I am starting to think is odd considering how common these birds are during the winter months in Iowa, as well as in my home-state of Wisconsin. I had read on the American Birding Association’s Iowa Bird List that a flock of Snow Buntings had been observed just north of the park. The kids have been keen to add a Snow Bunting to their Life List, so we headed out. Ice was quite bad. The wind was horrible. The birding not good. We saw a hawk (probably a Red-tailed Hawk) & a small flock of Canada Geese on the drive. A couple Northern Flickers in the woods while hiking. We hiked to the top of the hill overlooking Casey’s Lake. Coralee & Merritt found two charmingly beautiful bird nests  in the crooks of thorny berry bushes on the hill. The nests were lined with rich moss & now dusted in snow. Berries & wayward leaves had fallen into the nests during this period of dormancy. Coralee desperately wanted to take one home, but we left both intact for what I am sure are enchanting little birds to use again next season. Brian packed a meal of homemade deer sausage, sharp cheddar & crackers. We ate it next to the lake out of the trunk of our car while Coralee & Merritt slid around on the ice near the shore. Deer sausage with a sharp cheddar tastes incredibly good next to a frozen lake I have discovered. I wore my Steger Mukluks on the hike (a gift from my dad at least fifteen years ago) & they are as perfectly-awesome as ever!

On Sunday around noon we tried to ski at Dudgeon on a small parcel of land disconnected from the main park by both road & water. We pass this normally boggy area everyday on our drive to school or to town. From the road it looks so quaint. Some trees, open grassy areas, lots of reeds pepper the parcel. There are trails which appear to skirt around the edges of the entire relatively-square area. We brought both dogs–mistake! Each dog tried to get itself run over at least once by running up along the highway ditch as we skied away from our parking spot.  Those two about gave me a heart-attack. The “trails” don’t connect to each other. Short, little jaunts of about an eighth of a mile each, at best. We finally ventured into the brush & weeds & small groves of saplings to cross to the far northern section which appeared to have a trail skirting the boundary line along a hill. The skiing was atrocious, the kids were off-their-rockers in the reeds which were snapping in their faces, the creek was not frozen completely, it got rather warm & we were all dressed for much colder conditions, I slipped in my skis & fell with June on my back (no harm done, she’s fine, so don’t worry!), my bum was soaked from falling, Merritt had a meltdown in the middle of a particularly reedy area and flung his skis and poles into the bush (that’s SO his mother twenty years ago!!!), our curly-haired “wolf” Archer (Brian could actually pass for this description lately, he needs a haircut!) somehow managed to pick up every burr in the place. We did see six turkeys & once we finally made it to the back boundary the skiing was enjoyable on the hill….all five minutes of it! Ninety minutes after embarking on this calamity, we were back at our car with June passed out on my back & the older two declaring they were NEVER going to this place AGAIN! I wouldn’t recommend it, either, at least not to ski or hike….maybe canoe or kayak in the spring/summer when it floods with over six feet of water or to turkey-hunt, we saw an incredible amount of turkey tracks as we skied.

Weekend wandering at its best, eh?!


4 thoughts on “Weekend Wandering

  1. Great images! Total outdoors post, here. Those young people have a great light shining out from them through my laptop screen! I look forward to learning more about the “beingbodeker” adventures. Thanks for coming by my blog, On the Other Side of the Trees. Peace to you, T.


  2. Wow, what a day you had! I LOVE seeing Merritt in his new hat! Does he live in that thing? Makes me really glad I bought it for him! And the pics were great – especially the ones of the bird nests – beautiful! Such pretty stuff in their ‘homes’! Very discerning birds. Ha! Loved the post – sorry about the kids meltdown – but you remember yours, so that’s okay! Hugs, Mom


    • Merritt absolutely does live in that hat. It’s been so frigid this winter he hasn’t had a need for a lighter weight cap! I so loved those little nests, too. Just beautiful. Coralee & I think we should venture back there this spring during nesting season to find out who made such interesting nests!


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