Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Winter Outings Report

On January 22, five of us tried out our cross country skis on the Pony Hollow Trail just east of Elkader. The trail was pretty flat so I only fell down about three times on my new skis. And we only had to dodge snowmobiles twice. A nice stream runs along the trail adding to the scenic values. First time out so good testing of the groin muscles! Stiff and sore.

We enjoyed lunch at the Keystone Cafe in Elkader overlooking the Turkey River. A large hawk sat in the snow on the deck railing for quite a while adding to our pleasure.

I had to miss the Feb. 19 outing to Yellow River Forest but Charlie Winterwood and I got in some more skiing on Faraway Farm and on a Jackson County Trail on old railroad bed along the Maquoketa River southwest from County Road Z34 north of Preston to Spragueville. This 3.8 mile trail provides nice vistas of the meandering Maquoketa, has shelters and tables, and geologic time markers put in place by a Preston elementary school class. A hamburger, raspberry shake, and Citra at a cafe in Spragueville rounded out that morning outing.

The Faraway Farm ski trails are a lot less flat. The lane down the southeast (right) side of the ridge to the fields got down to being only a two-faller for me. A wee bit fast for my meager skills. Once onto the fields on the bench above the river bluffs, the going was better, peacefully serene, and scenic with views toward Galena across the Mississippi River Valley. Lots of deer tracks on the trails and evidence of turkey scratching. Good exercise. But, this summer, I will mow the trails with less sharp turns and angle down slopes rather than go straight down where ever possible. Those 90 degree turns at the bottom of the slopes at the edges of the fields overlooking the river were a little brutal!!! Tailbone brakes worked well and did not create serious tailbone breaks.

By building bridges across a couple of gullies, there will be about a half mile of nearly level trail along the river bluff. Nice project to work on over the next couple of years.

The Feb. 14 Sierra Club slide show on the "Battle for the Everglades" was very good.

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