Tuesday, October 14, 2014

14Oct2014 - Peters Marsh, Old Railroads, and Highland Lakes

No mice in the root cellar and after a warm breakfast I was on the trail early.  Light misting on and off rain but warm enough and enjoyable except for the flooding on the ATV portions of the trails.  Wet feet today and the slippery mud hidden under the leaves was an obstacle course.

The trail passes through the Peters Marsh State Wildlife Area then into the "Old Railroad" Segment that follows the grade from the early 1900's timber harvesting. 

During the day you could see a history of the Ice Age Trail signs with many variations that must have finally evolved into the current mammoth icon. 

Continuing past several lakes I came to Game Lake which included a floating bog, boardwalks, and the Game Lake Nature Trail.  There were two primitive campsites on my map which where as far from primitive as I have ever seen.  Multiple picnic tables, a sheltered leanto covering firewood, canoe and paddles, fire rings, and lake access.  Best free campsites I have ever seen in the back country.  I even heard loons calling at the second campsite called "Loon Cry Outpost".

The end of this section included passing the "Clearwater Stone Hole" and followed along Jack Lake Cross Country Ski trails.  Next up is the Highland Lakes Segment named after the numerous lakes forming the headwaters of the Eau Claire and Prairie Rivers.  The trail passes the 4-H camp on Lake Susan which was a former CCC facility.  The trail follows around Susan Lake and up onto the rolling ridge on an esker dividing the ares's lakes and wetlands on the 4-H camp nature trail with educational signs.

Between the Eastern and Western sections of the Highland Lakes segment is a short road walk that passes through the  Bogus Swamp Natural Area, a wetland located in the bed of an extinct glacial lake, and past a cool looking antique carrage wagon.

The western section follows old 1930's fire lanes which I followed into the dark through the Parrish Terminal Moraine, the outer side of the gravel, stone, and sand ridges deposited by the last glaciers.  At a
crossing of the west branch of the Eau Claire River I found the remains of a bridge but no dry crossing.  I made a wet crossing in the dark to be sure I was safely out of the private lands to camp on the gravely ground in a spot north of the crossing.

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