Leapfrog’s 2002 House Gathering

December 7, Along the Potowatomi Trail | December 8, A John Lawton Special Gerald E. Geddy Geology Center

Leapfrog’s Gathering: Sunday, December 8, 2002, A John Lawton Special Gerald E. Geddy Geology Center

After a fine filling breakfast of blueberry pancakes crafted with loving care by Siler and topped with luscious maple syrup provided by Dick we figured out what we were going to do for the hike. John Lawton had missed out on the pancakes but he had come prepared with a hike idea. For those that don't already know John knows the Waterloo-Pinckney area rather well. He's pretty much adopted the whole Waterloo-Pinckney trail for maintenance and he doesn't limit his explorations to just the main trail. There are many side trails, old roads, and off-trail jaunts that can be done in the area. It is probably fair to say that if it can be walked John has walked it or will someday soon. His plan was to take us on a 4-mile or so excursion near the Gerald E. Eddy Geology Center. he plan was endorsed and we piled into cars to go to the center just before noon.

The weather today was markedly different from Saturday. Saturday it was cloudy for the bulk of the day. Today the sky was considerably bluer. There was, again, fairly little wind. It was considerably colder though. Saturday we may have had temperatures in the mid-30s. Today we would have temperatures that were probably in the low-mid 20s. Of course, as is always the case, the sun makes things feel a bit warmer. It was a lovely day to be hiking.

We set out and slowly spread out. I had trod some of the planned route with John 3 weeks before. The last time I was hear there wasn't really any snow in the area. This time the whole area was covered with snow. It wasn't very deep, just an inch or so I suspect, but the ground was covered. We walked along pathways that had scores of tracks on them. While there were human tracks there were also many animal tracks. I'm no good at identifying what tracks are what but I've no doubt that many were deer tracks since the immediate area around the Geology Center is hunter-free. Once we passed out of the hunter-free zone animal tracks really diminished. We left the trail I had hiked just before it starts to climb to the top of an esker. We were now hiking a typical Lawton trail. A trail that would require we duck and weave through low hanging, hat grabbing, branches. An un-maintained trail. A trail that wound its way through the small hills of the area. We wandered on to what may have once been (hope I've got this in the right spot) an old road that was now used by just people like us and hunters. We worked our way north-east towards Waterloo Road though we did not quite reach it. We walked through what, in spring and summer, must be some pretty tall grass. Now that grass was bowed down under the snow. The ground had a bounce to it. We soon came to an old pine tree plantation. I've no real idea how old these trees are. Probably not that old. But, a pine grove is always a nice place to be. It was a definite change from the more wetland area we had been in. All of a sudden you are in the quiet of a evergreen forest.Their is something comforting about that.

When we left the pine forest we began to work our way down to what seemed at first glance to be fields but were, as you might expect, more wetlands. I wouldn't want to walk into those open spaces. You might sink without a trace. We followed our leader (and I wonder how well I would find the trail if I were just out by myself - I wish I knew; it would be a learning experience , a good one I think, to try and hike a route like that as the leader - a good route finding exercise) through these wetlands. We were now heading towards the Mt. Calvary Cemetery. We were, though I don't think it was ever visible, making a circuit of Walsh Lake. The cemetery is small and has some fairly old graves though I'm not sure how old the oldest grave is.

We left the cemetery following some trail to, I think, Bush Road, which we took followed for a ways to yet another trail that took us down towards the cabins on Mill Lake. I don't see the trail on the USGS topographic map I'm looking at. From the cabins we continued on back to our parked cars at the Geology Center. We had been out for about two fine hours. Everyone, I think, had a good time. People were able to chat with each other and enjoy a fine early winter (OK, technically late fall) day hike.

Here is an URL to the portion of the Chelsea USGS Quad that gives you an idea of where we hiked.

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