Leapfrog’s 2003 House Gathering

December 6, A John Lawton Special near Winnewanna Impoundment | December 7, A John Lawton Special Around Gorman Lake

Leapfrog’s Gathering: Saturday, December 6, 2003, A John Lawton Special near Winnewanna Impoundment

It’s a chilly somewhat overcast morning in the Waterloo Recreation Area. John Lawton is leading our Saturday, December 6, 2003 day hike that will take us along maintained trails, deer and hunter trails, and bushwhacking through the region. This is the fifth annual Leapfrog Gathering and the first day hike of two that we always do when Sue and John Williams open their house to a gaggle of hikers for a weekend of fun, food, and good company.

John had planned a hike of about 8.5 miles. When we arrived at Leapfrog’s (that’s Sue) house around 9:30AM people were pretty much ready to go. We were a bit surprised by this since as a whole we’re a group that is notoriously slow in getting going when involved in gathering like this. We piled into several cars and drove to the end-point of the hike near Roe Road. We dropped off a car at this quiet spot and then drove to near the headquarters of the Waterloo Recreation Area. It was about 10:30AM and the morning was crisp, with little wind, and small patches of blue sky amongst the low clouds.

The group set out, spread out, and the fun began. Some of us just had to stop and photograph the ice forming upon the surface of Crooked Lake. The ice isn’t thick enough to support a person, but I imagine it will get there in time. This portion of the hike winds up and around Crooked Lake along the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail.

We walked northerly through the rolling forested hills. The only sounds to really be heard were those we made ourselves. With so many people all chatting and shushing through leaves there was no real chance to hear any wildlife that might be around. Of course, this late in the fall the pace of animal life has slowed down somewhat. It was fun, while we stayed on the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail, to walk along a route I had done the year before and remember it. Of course, when we eventually left the trail just beyond Waterloo Road. From here we would pretty much walk along anything but traditional trail. Sometimes we followed animal or hunter trails, sometimes bushwhacked, and sometimes walked along two-tracks. All along we were surrounded by the bear trees (now and then some pine), leaves on the ground, and a peaceful forest.

As the morning progressed into afternoon the clouds gave way to sunshine and the temperature crept above freezing. When we stopped for lunch along the south eastern shores of Winnewanna Lake (42°21'27.7" N 84°05'00.7" W) the skies had cleared almost completely. There was a breeze at this exposed lunch spot but no one seemed to mind.

When we continued on the rest of the day, about two and a half hours, went along about as before. I really enjoyed just strolling through the semi-trails and off trail as we worked our way around Winnewanna Lake and later Winnewanna Impoundment. Once in a while there was a view of the water and the small bits of surface ice that were making interesting patterns near the shore. The skies were clear and very bright. In fact, the final portion of the hike was made a bit more challenging because we found ourselves hiking into the sun. I know I was squinting a lot and that affect me rate of travel. It was just harder to look ahead and plot of safe course through the branches. I certainly took my share of smacks from thin branches. I imagine everyone did.

When we reached the end-point of the hike at Roe Road it was just past 3:00PM. Drivers went to the other end of the hike to fetch the rest of the cars and we then all returns to the Williams’ home for a sumptuous potluck dinner and evening of generally lively and amicable discussions on all sorts of things. A good time was had by all.


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