7/25/2010 12:02:34 AM
Planned to do this trip for months on bicycles and decided we must go even if the weather was funky. It had rained the night before so we knew it could be a bit dodgy. Well it was. Maybe a quarter of it was puddles still at 9am. Thankfully the trail seemed to be quite well maintained with either hard packed dirt or hard packed crushed stone. So even whilst riding through the water the mud was mostly non-existent - mostly. By 3pm almost all of the standing water had dissipated. Thank you Sun.
The trail is essentially flat with a few gradual sloping grades that were certainly manageable. It is a beautiful trail that offers more than enough room for bicycles to pass and goes through a mixture of open sunny pastures and fairly dense tree cover. I would say about half and half. The shade was welcome since the temps were in the 80s by 11am. Except for the occasional paved road one must cross (maybe a dozen) the ride is internal combustion free and the few farms you pass are the only signs of human civilization besides the fellow travelers. In 7 and a half hours of riding we probably met only a couple dozen walkers, riders and three horse folk - on a Saturday!
We were two, the wife and I, and we decided to tackle this trek on Raleigh 3 speeds. As it turns out, not a bad choice. There was some ambivalence in not knowing how rough the terrain was going to be and though a mountain bike would have certainly been a quicker machine, we were not that interested in the speed factor. There is so much to see, hear and smell. The willows (I think they were willows) that surrounded us at times - usually at creek crossings and swamps gave off a sweet scent that reminded us both of childhood adventures in similar locations. And speaking of crossings, coming upon the more than a dozen bridges was always a cause for a break. To stretch one's legs, nibble on an oat bar snack and sip from the water bottle at these mini-destinations was very enjoyable.
Though we didn't use them, the benches placed in a few locations are a nice touch. Thank you to whoever has donated these. There was even a BBQ grill about 4 miles in from Hortonville! Near Larson which is aprox half way there are several picnic tables at this mid-trail head parking lot. This trail head also has a vending machine that has the usual soda pop and Gatorade.
We started the ride from the Oshkosh trailhead that begins at Westwind Rd. Or I should say what is left of Westwind Rd. Because of the extensive construction in this area they have - temporarily I hope - eliminated the parking lot at this location. To actually get to where the trail begins we had to slog through 50 yards of ankle deep mud and then go around a curious barricade. Coming back we were able to find a detour about 100 yards on the west side that brought one onto Bellaire Lane and back to Westwind. We don't know what is beyond all this construction mess as you go towards the cemetery and eventually Frattellos since we defied convention and crossed over the Butte des Morts bridge via the paved service road on the west side. But I imagine Marine Dr is open since it services a couple businesses. Let's just hope they get this job done soon and put the landscape back to where it can be used again. I'm sure they will.
From the Westwind trailhead on the south end to the Hortonville trailhead on the north we measured almost exactly 20 miles. We figure it was another mile to get to downtown Hortonville and another 2 miles to Charlies drive-in where a hamburger, fries and a rootbeer float were welcome and consumed with vigor. From the south trail head to Fratello's maybe 2 miles.
Our jaunt took us 9 hours and covered the extra 4 miles it took from home. All in all 52 miles. Considering we stopped to soak in the bucolic surrounding on a frequent basis, took some photos, glassed the sand dunes for Bank Swallows (also saw a couple Blue Birds and one Cat Bird) and had to bushwack to find the southern trailhead I think we made respectable time. The Raleighs held up fine even after the slight rear end collision from wife when in my exuberance I braked hard to avoid a lumbering turtle that apparently was not taught to look both ways before you cross.
A lovely day on a lovely trail. Thanks to all who have made this possible.