5. Governor Dodge State Park

Warm weather was on the way. Too warm for maintaining the nice foot or so of snow that was on the ground. Time to get out on the trail while the snow was still good. It was about 29 degrees on February 2 when I got to Governor Dodge State Park, about 45 miles west of Madison and just outside of Dodgeville. Kind of on the warm side for snowshoeing, but temperatures well into the 40’s were on the way. By the next day, the snow would be soup, and a day after that, there wouldn’t be much left.

One trail at Governor Dodge, the Uplands Trail, is open to snowshoers, who share it with hikers and visitors with leashed pets. As I learned, there is one small segment where snowmobilers also use the trail. Skiers, on the other hand, have four trails to choose from and apparently don’t share. Of course, there are more skiers than snowshoers, so I guess it’s reasonable. Governor Dodge is a relatively large park at 5,350 acres.

The Uplands Trail is very nice. It’s a 2.5 mile loop that goes through some nice woods and skirts around an agricultural field. In the winter, the field is just a big open space. Mostly, the trail is on gently rolling hills. There was one nice up-and-down, crossing a stream at the low point.

Even at 29 degrees when I got to the trail, the air was warm compared to the snow. That generated a considerable amount of fog. Having grown up near Lake Superior, which has some gorgeous foggy days, I’ve always been fond of fog. To me, it’s very scenic.

As I traversed the Uplands Trail, the temperature edged up into the mid-30’s. Nice fog. The one snowshoer I met on the trail jogged past me without using poles. I, of course, was plodding along, using both poles. It was very nice of her to pass me and to have had on a red jacket — made for a nice photo, which at the top of this post.

She was the only snowshoer I saw on the trail. I met a couple walking their dog. The dog was doing fine and enjoying the snow. The humans said they wished they had put their snowshoes on. Even though there had been some snowshoe use of the trail, it wasn’t packed enough for hiking without snowshoes. There were lots of divots from the hikers sinking deeper than the snowshoers.

The hiker/jogger who passed me made even more divots. He, too, said it was a lot of work to be running on the trail without snowshoes. I thought snowshoeing was plenty of work. Even on fairly easy terrain, I’m fairly confident I burn a sufficient amount of calories. And, a 2.5 mile trail was just fine. Didn’t need more than the Uplands Trail.

I’m a slow hiker and also a slow snowshoer. But, it gives me more time to enjoy being outside. Works for me. Being out on the Uplands Trail on a nice, foggy day was great. There were a few minutes with a little bit of rain but not enough to get through the jacket. I was quite comfortable. It did, however, mean there would be a break in snowshoeing in southern Wisconsin, especially since a day of rain was in the forecast. Rain is definitely not good for the snow!

Foggy day on the edge of the field
Fog, field and woods — a black and white day