Posts Tagged: inspire(d) magazine

Get Outta Town: More Great Trails to Explore North of Decorah

By Lauren Kraus
Printed in the June 2008 edition of Inspire(d)

This is the second in a series of articles that serves as a tribute and tutorial of the amazing hiking, biking, and walking trails in the Driftless Area, a region in the Midwest lacking “glacial drift.” By escaping the glacier’s path in the most recent Ice Age, the Driftless Area was not flattened out like much of the Midwest. Thus, the trails and scenery are supreme.

The time is better than ever: the weather is inviting and the rugged Driftless Area landscape offers much more beyond the city limits of Decorah. I hope you got a chance to check out a couple, or all, of the tremendous trails accessible in Decorah that I highlighted in the May issue of Inspire(d). Isn’t this town packed with great get-away spots right out our backdoors?

This month my focus has moved north of Decorah a bit to thoroughly explored two phenomenal areas that I insist you take an afternoon, an evening or a Saturday to tromp around. You will leave tuckered out and energized all at once as these prime wilderness spots offer a variety of terrain and way more beauty than Iowa is stereotypically deemed to have. Enjoy.

Pine Bluff 4-H Camp:

This densely forested area chock full of Black Oak and Basswood, White Ash and Hackberry isn’t just for 4-H campers. An easy 15-minute drive from Decorah promises lush landscape, a very cool swinging bridge rebuilt in 1994 after a flood and a supposed magic tree. Although I never came across this “magic tree,” I was in awe of the mixed woodlands that the rolling trail traveled through. Next to the swinging bridge, my favorite part of the 115 acres is the thick groves of White Pines that will surely leave you feeling like a five year old on a playground. Bring a good book or a picnic lunch as friendly wooden benches line parts of the trail. To get to this little refuge, take a left of Hwy 9 on to Trout Run Road, a right on River Road and head toward the Oneota Country Club through Freeport.  After driving a little bit and crossing three bridges, you will see the entrance to Pine Bluff on the right side of the road.

Coon Creek:

An amazing area of Iowa DNR land, Coon Creek could suck you in for days. I have entered the space from two different points and am sure there are several other ways to tap into this hiking haven. The Coon Creek winds through an incredible rolling plot of thick forest, compressed limestone and farm patches. A thin tire-track road treks back, over and deeply into this countryside providing virtually endless access to more natural wonder. Go see for yourself:

Southwest side- left on Trout Run Road, right on River Road heading toward Oneota Country Club through Freeport. Pass by Pine Bluff 4-H Camp and go right on 143rd. After crossing a bridge, take a left on Coon Creek Road. Beware of a black and white dog that likes to chase cars. Soon enough you’ll notice a small parking space on the left side of the road. If you miss this one, there is yet another parking area about a half mile up the road. Have fun.

Northern side- go north on Locust Road, take a right on Canoe Ridge Road or A38. Stay on Canoe Ridge and you’ll pass two white churches, Canoe German Methodist and Canoe Ridge Lutheran. After the second church, veer left on Lundy Bridge Road. Take this road for a bit and you’ll start heading down into a valley. Stay right on Lundy Bridge Road until you reach a rusty, one lane bridge. Cross the bridge and park. The trail begins on a small path above the bridge. And have fun… you’re outta town!

Lauren Kraus loves her family and friends, is stoked about the transition into warmer weather, and was most definitely a mountain goat in a previous life. This is evidenced by her need for climbing steep surfaces and maybe a correlation to her frequent cravings for chèvre. Goats don’t ride bicycles though.

Virginia Zotalis

Interviewed by daughter-in-law Lynne Zotalis.

It’s so interesting how things come around. I will have two new grandchildren by spring.  Their great grandma, Virginia, will not have the privilege of knowing them. A chapter ends and another begins. The cycle of life. “I’ll take my periscope and watch them from beyond,” Virginia promised. I have no doubt.

Best Advice? Moderation in all things.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a traveler. From our farm on the Missouri River bottoms, I’d climb a hill and watch the cars on the highway. I would wonder where they were going, imagining myself riding along. I’m like my oldest granddaughter that way.

What was your favorite job?
I was secretary to the editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch. The employment agency sent me over there for an interview. When they wanted to hire me I said I wasn’t going to pay the fee. It was $400. They paid it.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
Face cream, reading material, and my family.

What is your favorite food?
A t-bone steak, especially the part right next to the bone.

How did you meet your husband?
We both worked at Bannon’s department store in downtown St.Paul. He was in the floral design and I was at the Green Stamp counter.  You got 10 stamps for every dollar spent. But if they spent 99 cents I’d still give them 10.  You weren’t supposed to. Someone asked him if he noticed the girl at the end of the counter. He said, “That infant?” He was 10 years older but he actually made me look like I was the elder – he was so fun and full of life. I was serious. There were errand boys that ran around between the departments so he would hand one of them a flower, “Here, take this to the lady at the end of the counter.” That’s how he introduced himself.

Describe your wedding day.
Everyone from up here went to Iowa to get married. That was the thing. It was a little town with a Congregational church, if I recall. I brought my girlfriend. He brought his friend to stand up for us and that was all there was to it. And guess what? I cried through the whole thing. Don’t ask me why. My girlfriend lived in Southern Minnesota so we went to her house for cake and all. Then we spent a whole week in Chicago for a honeymoon.

Rita (Leibold) Hackman

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Honesty. Don’t speak badly about others, and never say a “bad” word!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
After I graduated the eighth grade I lived with my parents until I was married. Both my parents passed away just a few years after that – I really just wanted to get married and raise a family of my own.

What are you most proud of in your life?
I’m a proud mother of 13 children – and all the grand and great-grand kids. I’m also a life long member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Ft. Atkinson.

What do/did you do?
We farmed – milked cows by hand for many years, gathered and sold eggs, raised and butchered chickens, gardened and canned vegetables, and sold raspberries and strawberries. I also sowed a lot, including clothing, bridesmaid dresses, etc. In more recent years I have crocheted baby caps – more than 50 – both for my grand kids and for others.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
A great bread maker.

If you could eat anything everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Anything rhubarb! Baking powder biscuits with rhubarb sauce, just like my mom used to make.

Multiple Choice: tell us about…. Your wedding day…
I was married on September 10, 1940 to Leo Hackman. We lived just a couple miles from each other and knew each other quite a while, although we went to different parishes. It was just sort of a given that we would get married. I don’t even really remember thinking about it. We were married early in the morning, and then all the neighbors and relatives came for dinner on the farm and stayed until supper.