Sunday, October 19, 2003

I apologized to the first tree before I marred it with the bark peeler.

“I’m sorry, tree.” I said. “This wound will protect you from the sawyer’s ax. May you live long and mark the path for hikers.”

The peeler’s got handles on either side with a grooved blade between. Field Coordinator Tim M. partly nailed in a plastic yellow blaze. Before I removed the blaze I used my hand saw to cut through the bark and set the parameters for the peeler. I then removed the blaze. Esther painted a yellow blaze after I peeled the bark down to moist white meat.

Most of the time the Ice Age Trail is marked with a plastic blaze, nailed in with at least an inch space between the blaze and tree (room for growth), but the DNR manager here in Lincoln County wanted blazes painted, I guess to maintain uniformity with the rest of the section. Direction changes were made with plastic blazes.

After the morning’s work the remaining crew sat around the tool shed near the trail and ate lunch. We looked at a photo album of other work weekends this year, reminiscing on all that’s been accomplished. I felt a little sad because this is the last Mobile Skills Crew weekend Esther and I will attend for probably the next year. Who knows where we’ll be next October? No doubt our journeys will return us to Wisconsin.

It was nice to talk to Luke K. about his thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail this summer. He’s really lost weight, going from a pink-cheeked cherub to a bearded mountain man. We also picked Sharon D.’s brain for stories and information about her Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike this past summer. She’s the only person I know who has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Ice Age Trail, Long Trail and PCT. And she’s so unassuming about it. She’s also the brainchild behind the Ice Age Trail companion guide.

I had a dream this morning about blueberries – I was in a supermarket and a lady with an apron on stood next to a table displaying a wide variety of blueberries. Some were small purple beads, others bright blue and as large as a plum, but with the tell-tale crown of the blueberry.

One of the bigger ones was cut up into smaller portions in a glass dish with salt water. I knew it was brine because some of the salt lay undiluted on the bottom of the dish. When I tried this saltwater humongous blueberry piece it tasted sweet and salty, like taffy, and the salt seemed to eliminate the blueberry’s tartness.

I woke up, booted up and walked over to the cooking area, where I enjoyed, you guessed it, blueberry pancakes…

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