My path today: Gunflint Trail Park (Fitchburg, WI)

With the first 60 degree day after winter, the boy and I headed out early and stayed until we needed flashlights to search. An awesome, awesome day that left us pretty darn tired.

We started at Gunflint Trail Park with its easy trails, and easier deerpaths to get off the paved way. Found many things peaking under rocks and old pieces of wood. The eastern side of the park contains a tall grass area and a 2-acre wooded area. The remaining parkland is open with paved trails. The Capital City State Trail passes through the northern side of the park. There are wetlands to the north of the trail.

We headed further south toward Oregon and the Rustic Road, some no traffic roads and farmland. Just awesome without any sounds at all in the area. I will miss the Leopold areas when we head to Minnesota. Bitter sweet, the end of a great chapter and the excitement of the next.

We stop to examine Badfish Creek. Since we did not bring any nets of gear, we can not determine how bad the mudminnow, brook stickleback, fathead minnow are. Brings up a memory of me downing a live minnow and, well, I should stop there.

Badfish Creek Wildlife Area is a 1262+ acre property located in Dane County. The property consists of wetland (including fairly recent waterfowl scrapes on the west side), solid cattail, sedge marsh, shrub-carr, old farm ponds, old agricultural ditches, Badfish Creek, prairie grass fields and cool season fields. There is a small percentage of the property that has wooded vegetation, but for the most part it is made up of box elder and is low quality.

The final stop was to Swan Pond, a kettle pond on the way home. These types of ponds are my favorite because they are so different, something you only see in glacier land. As usual, I try to get close, try to take a drink of the water. Evaporation has probably taken much of the 10,000 year old water away, but I try yet again.

Swan Pond is a kettle pond, left behind at the end of the last ice age when the glaciers receded from the area. The pond is a frequent stopover for Tundra Swans as they migrate north in the spring, and is a valuable wetlands area for other birds and mammals all year long.

There have been several ice ages throughout earth’s history, with the most recent series of glacial advances and retreats lasting from about 100,000 to 10,000 years ago. As the last glacier started to retreat large chunks of ice were calved – broken off from the face of the glacier. As the glacier retreated farther, rocks and debris from the glacier were washed over the ice chunk by the melt water, burying it in the outwash. As the chunk of ice melted the area above the ice started to sink below the level of the surrounding land. When the ice was completely melted it left behind a depression, called a kettle, in the landscape. If the bottom of the kettle is below the water table, as it is at Swan Pond, the depression becomes a kettle pond or kettle lake. If the depression stays above the water table it’s called a kettle depression.


About blpawelek

Dad, hiker, writer.
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2 Responses to My path today: Gunflint Trail Park (Fitchburg, WI)

  1. iamarobot says:

    Gunflint Trail Park is now on my list of places to check out this summer.

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