Forest fun and a muddy butt


The first mile. Fresh and SO happy to finally be out for a nice, long solo hike!

It started with blue sky and sunshine. 50 degrees. Early spring leafless trees allowing views through the forest. Echoes across the sky from sandhill cranes and Canada geese. Twirty birds – robins, chickadees, red-wing blackbirds. A single cricket. Snow-free, leaf-crunchy trails. Mud. It ended with a breeze and overcast sky. Sprinkles of cool rain falling from the sky.

Monday was my day off, and Adam had some shows he wanted to watch, so I took off to the woods. I head towards my go-to for last-minute hiking because it’s so familiar and I love it – the northern unit of Kettle Moraine along the Ice Age Trail. I know the trailheads, distances between them, and a few side trails. I can just head there and plan my hike on the way.

I started at Butler Lake and hiked north. When I got to the Parnell Trail, I veered off and climbed the lookout tower. It was still a very clear day at that point, so I was able to see Lake Michigan from up there! What a treat!


Tower stairs


The view from Parnell tower.

I continued along the Parnell loop back towards the Ice Age Trail, and that’s where I slipped in the mud-covered leaves, going downhill. I figured I’d fall a few times with how muddy and slippery the trail was, but this was the only time. I landed softly on my elbow and right butt cheek. It was one of those feet-go-up, butt-goes-down kind of falls, and it made me laugh. I love spring. It’s my favorite season, and the mud is one of my favorite parts about it. My ultimate favorite is the limey-green leaf buds and new flowers that start popping out – the ones that haven’t quite opened their eyes to the season yet. I was a little early for that, but I was able to get really acquainted with the mud. By way of my butt. It was okay to get dirty. That’s one of the bazillion reasons I hike.


Muddy bum!

Lunch was on a log around a cold fire ring. Tortilla with pepperoni, sausage, and cheese. And apple and seltzer water. Starburst. Chocolate. I continued on the trail northward for a couple more miles after lunch, then turned around and head back towards the car.

On the way back the sky darkened. I wasn’t expecting rain, so I turned airplane mode off on my phone and checked the weather. Hmmm. 40’s and rain coming. My rain jacket? In the car. Whoops. I didn’t look far enough ahead on the weather when I checked it earlier, so I missed the whole rainy part of the forecast. 

About three miles from the car it started to sprinkle. I’d already hiked about 12 miles, but I was feeling great. So I started to jog. I had my synthetic jacket in my pack, so I would’ve been able to stay warm (just not dry), but if I could avoid getting wet, then why not try? Especially if I still had a little energy? I jogged most of the last three miles, and the few sprinkles that came down during that time were welcomed.


Grey sky, a tiny bit of sun, and a cool way to end the day.

I got to the car, unloaded my pack, sat down, shut the door, and it started to pour rain. Yes! Perfect. A perfect day in the woods. My whole self felt rejuvinated as I just sat for a few minutes, felt my breaths, and watched the rain trickle down the windshield.

My muscles felt fatigued, my feet were a little sore, my shoulders ached from carrying an ill-fitting day pack, but it was all perfect. Because my mind was clear, my eyes were bright, and I had a smile on my face.


Happily tired. Best feeling ever.

Yep, hiking is a pretty serious addiction, and I don’t get nearly enough of it. Ever. But when I do, it’s pretty awesome. I don’t think I’ll be trying to quit any time soon, either. More. I need more.

Tonight I love mud. The squishy sound of my footsteps on a muddy trail gives me goosebumps because I love it so much.


Mud caked on my shoes. Mmm, cake.


Trekking poles can double as leaf collectors.


An adorable little bird nest. It was empty.


Purple brambly pickers. Scratchy, but really colorful!


The details in small things are amazing.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


One thought on “Forest fun and a muddy butt

  1. Hey Kid, glad to see you got a few miles on, the weather has started to turn a little for gettin out there, we are talking about doing another section of the SHT as soon as we can trust that ma nature isn’t going to beat us up too bad at night, the temps are still dropping down in the teens and twenty’s at night, a little too chilly for packing light, the spring pix look great though on the kettle northern unit, good to see your hiking smile too. love you see you soon –pappy —

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