Saturday, February 18, 2017

February thaw at Wehr Nature Center

What do people in Milwaukee do when there are spring-like temperatures in February? They go outdoors. En masse. As of this writing, the mercury has hit record highs two days in a row, with more in the forecast. Saturday’s high of 66 shattered the previous record of 57 for February 18.

I spent the afternoon at Wehr Nature Center in Whitnall Park with my wife, Lynn, and hundreds of other people. I didn’t actually count, but there were hundreds. Really. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many people at a public park on an ordinary Saturday when there wasn’t a special event. And in February at that!

I made a few photos. I went to soak up the warmth and the sun, not expecting much success with photography. The landscape was quite monochromatic. Aside from the sky, the only colors to be seen were people’s bright clothing—which included T-shirts and shorts in some cases!

Lynn and I decided to walk around the lake. It's called Whitnall Park Pond, but at 16 acres it's a substantial lake. And still mostly icebound, which seemed a bit surreal under the hot sun. At our leisurely pace it took us well over two hours to walk all the way around. Of course we also went off the official trail a bit--as did quite a few others--along the creek below the dam. Plenty of mud to go around! 

The muddy track did lead through some satisfyingly real urban wilderness!

The Parks Department took advantage of the unseasonable weather to boost attendance even further by deploying one of its mobile beer gardens to Whitnall. When we emerged from the woods and crossed the creek on the park road bridge we were stunned to see the line of cars stretching all the way up the hill, with more coming all the time....

Being fans of the wilderness, we headed back into the woods and continued on our circumnavigation of the lake. The trail was crowded enough for us.

Even if you didn't stray off the official trails there was plenty of mud!

Soaking up the sun.

To see Milwaukee County Parks in all seasons go to my Flickr album.

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