Balds

Where were we?  Oh yeah, my birthday.  We celebrated my birthday at Vintage Brewing’s new location in Sauk City.  The beer garden overlooking the Wisconsin River won’t be open until warmer weather, but we still managed to have a good time inside.

Based upon the last photo, you might think the title of the blog refers to the three guys quaffing beer.  At least, that’s what folks in Wisconsin would probably think.  The title actually refers to where I’m planning to travel this spring.  2018 has the potential to be a big travel year.  We will find out if it turns out that way, but that is my goal.

Julia will be heading off next week for some cross-country skiing in northern Wisconsin, while I tend to the home fires.  As you recall, she also made a trip to China for two weeks last fall. My wife has generously offered to stay home with Justin during his spring break, so I have a week to play in the outdoors.  Last year, I took a long weekend during the spring to Puerto Vallarta.  This year, I’ve tentatively decided to return  to the Appalachian Trail for the first time since my thru-hike in 1996.

I have no wish to ever repeat my thru-hike. Physically, the 2159 mile trail took a lot out of me.  I contracted Lyme’s Disease, developed heel spurs and knee issues, and dropped about 40 pounds.  I burned fat, and then I burned muscle.  That hike changed my approach to life in many positive ways, but you can never go back and experience the same thing.  Those days are gone.

On the other hand, there are lots of places on the A.T. that I would go back to for shorter hikes or backpacking trips, time permitting.  One of my favorite places in the South along the Appalachian Trail is in the Roan Mountain Area which follows the North Carolina and Tennessee border, north of the Smokey Mountain National Park.  These aren’t high elevation mountains compared to out west, but the climbs start out much lower also. Climbs above 5000 feet will be challenging enough after hiking mostly in the flatlands of the Midwest.

In the South, most of the peaks are not above tree line, so that views are often limited and obstructed by trees.  Balds are large grassy meadows found on top of some peaks. There are a few of them in the Roan Mountain area.  I remember the expansive views and the gale force winds.  This is also the area where I saw my only bear on the hike.  It was a black bear running in my favorite direction–away from me.  I

If you are interested in reading more about balds and the area I plan to hike in, check out this link,  I’ll hopefully have some of my own photos to post in April.   I don’t plan to take the Brew Hut–just the truck and my backpack.

This morning, Julia and I drove over to Sauk City to watch my son compete at a Show Choir Competition and to walk along the Great Sauk Trail.

This area is known for bald eagles that winter here.  In fact, the header photo shows an island in the middle of the river.  Eagles roost in that tree, as many as 20 or more at a time.  Today, Sauk Prairie rolled out the carpet for tourists, but only a couple of eagles could be found during our hike (too far away for photos from my phone).

It was all a bit too crowded and with too many rules for my taste, so we will return another day. There are good spots for eagle viewing both upriver and downriver from the main advertised viewing area on the bluff.

I will finish with a video from the show choir performance.  Those who are familiar with my blog will recognize my son’s fancy ride.

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