25-Apr-2000 -- Eastern Wisconsin near
Lake Winnebago is gently rolling farmland. Dairy is the name of the
game, and you get cheese with everything here. This part of the country
is also under the migratory flyways of geese, cranes, larks, ducks,
terns, etc. so in April, you can see a wide variety of bird species.
Redwing blackbirds and mallards abound, and I saw my first sandhill
crane and my first meadowlark, and a juvenile bald eagle. There are
also some medium to large marshes, and 44N88W is located right in the
middle of one of these.
Starting in Fond du Lac, I drove north around the eastern shore of
Lake Winnebago (it's named after an Indian tribe, not a camper :-).
About mid-way up, I turned East, heading towards Manitowoc. Soon, I was
deep in farmland, with houses spaced about a half-mile apart. Turning
on to county road "C", I finally stopped about .56 miles from
It started as a gentle hike across a boggy field, rutted with last
year's furrows. Then, to a small copse of trees (and discourteously
ignoring the "No Trespassing" sign), I proceeded another 100
meters across a squelchy field of last year's tallgrass (in the full of
summer, this will be 8 feet tall). Then through a sparse blackberry
thicket, a slightly more dense hawthorn thicket (good thing I was
wearning thick denim), and finally into the full of the swamp. The
marsh marigolds were blooming buttercup-yellow, the skunk cabbage was
just starting to turn green, and the muddy water was easily thigh deep.
Hummocks of grass and fallen, rotting trees provided an unsteady footing
until I was within about 375 meters from the confluence. By that time,
I was making progress measurable in fractions of meters per minute.
It was decision time. I was more than a mile from the nearest
building, alone in the middle of a thick swamp. The footing was
unsteady, sunset was only 40 minutes away, and from the evidence at my
feet, the bear did shit in the woods. Nobody knew that I was
out here, and the swamp only got thicker and deeper nearer to the
confluence (the topographic map confirmed that). There is a line
somewhere between "fun" and "stupid", and I was
about to cross it.
The birds were beautiful (but they could fly), the frogs were singing
("get out"), and the thought of falling into the muck and then
hiking back to the car with another hour's drive wasn't too appealing.
I tried 4 separate approaches to the confluence in 30 minutes, and each
time it got too wet or too thick to proceed. It might be
easier in August(and I'm not too sure), but in April, getting within 375
meters was close enough.
I took a few pictures in the dying light, and headed back.