The Dells Loop and Connector trail were well ridden in on fat bikes yesterday. Grooming should start this week after more snow and a good freeze. Be careful on the Underdown lakes until they are good and solid.
October 8th, 2016 NEW LOCATION: 95% of this year's 11 mile course has never been raced. You will want to stop and admire the views! You will want to ride the descents over and over!
Find the Merrill Memorial Forest by taking Heinemann Road for 2.5 miles west from Highway 17 or County R 3.5 miles east from County K.
Registration: 8AM or Registration
10 Hour Race: 10AM (Finish before 8PM. Bring a light.)
6 Hour Race: 1PM
3 Hour Race: 3PM
Camping will be allowed this weekend. Racer Refreshment: Chili, cookies, and Festbier! Awards: Pints and Growlers to category winners!
Giant Giveaway: Be there for the huge racer-selected prize package sponsored by Giant. Additional Goodies from Hammer Nutrition and Silent Sports!
Thunderdown Cup: Sign up your town by 3PM. Which town will turn the most laps? Will the cup return to Wausau or stay up in Rhinelander? Course: This brand new course will incorporate the 5.1 mile Dells Loop in the Merrill Memorial Forest before taking rustic Horn Lake Road to the enhanced Oktoberfest heights and returning over the extensive hills on the 2.2 mile connector. VIDEO
Sights: Prairie Dells Gorge! Marvelous Manthei Marsh! Twenty Turn Ice Ridge Descent! Other Events:
October 1st: 10AM Trail Grand Opening and Ice Age Trail Fall Hike at the Merrill Memorial Forest
October 1st: 2PM to 6PM Lincoln Lager Barleyfestat the Smith Center in Merrill
October 2nd: 10AM Group Ride at Merrill Memorial Forest
October 7th, 8th and 9th: 10AM to 5PM Northwoods Art Tour Visit local artists including the bike inspired jewelry of the Outback Studio in Irma.
October 29th: 5PM Prairie Dells Coyote-Cross Enduro Ghost Ride
2017: Hundred Down in the Underdown, BURGR 95, Fork Horners 47, TTT 103, Run Around the Underdown
Great Food nearby: Just follow Heinemann Road east all the way to County X to find Fork Horners just a bit south. This is what you deserve after a day on the trail. Great Snacks and Bulk Food nearby: Follow Highway 17 north through Gleason to Prairie Pines Country Store.
Merrill Memorial Forest: Take Heineman Road west from 17 about a mile south of Bloomville, or take Spring Lake Road east from County K about 6 miles north of Merrill.
The new trail is in all the way to Prairie Dells and back. About half is still a rough bike ride and boardwalks have yet to be built, but it's a great hike for exploring. Find the Merrill Memorial Forest on Heineman Road south of the Underdown.
And the DNR just started closing the spillway so the marsh will be filling and the birds will be happy.
You could ride it too, but there is some finishing to do and a long boardwalk to install. Either way, it's beautiful. Take the new trail all the way along the Manthei Marsh to the top of the clear but hill where you will reach the grass road. A left will take you to the short levee and railroad causeway that completes the loop.
Trail construction starts Monday! Work should start about 9AM and continue into the evening so come on out if you like to move dirt. For the first day the project will be a walk of a few hundred yards past the main gate. Look for the dirt.
I'll have some hand tools, mostly rakes. Feel free to bring your favorite digger or a chainsaw to work ahead of the excavator.
To volunteer and enjoy on the Underdown-Dells trail project turn west on Heineman Road a mile south of Bloomville. The forest entrance is about two miles from Highway 17 where County R and Spring Lake Road meet Heineman Road.
Join us for an amazing volunteer project that will create 5 to 6 new miles of hike-bike trail from the existing Underdown trail system to the brink of the Prairie Dells. Be there to connect the ice marginal ridges above Anderson Lake to the beautiful Manthei Wetland and Precambrian Prairie Dells.
When: Most days and evenings from June 20th to August 12th
Where: Merrill Memorial Forest at the intersection of Heineman Road and County R. Follow the entrance road a quarter mile to the first gate. Construction begins less than a quarter mile past that gate. What: Although an excavator will do much of the heavy lifting, handwork is essential to finish the trail tread. This is often done with shears and rakes. Boardwalk building could begin in the first week!
Trails were indeed solid and beautiful
all the way to Mist Lake and I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the lakes, nut it took some icy trails to get there. Ice is common on trails A and Z plus the Ice Age Trails from Dog Lake to collarbone corner. Fat bikers should be ready to walk or take serious risks, and hikers will want to bring spiky shoes to those areas. There wasn't enough snow to groom ski trails this week. It feels like winter is about over.
The Mist Lake loop has not been this solid for fat biking in 4 or 5 years. Just enough new powder fell to give the ice some grip. Lakes and bog fringes are clear of deep snow and ready to explore at will. The loop only took about 1:20 at a moderate pace.
Group ride at 10AM Saturday if the forecast holds.
Ski trails are icy with powder in the tracks over some dirt patches.
The Mist Lake loop was finally solid enough to ride all the way around last night. It's bumpier than the Dog Lake loop because some of us jumped the gun this weekend, but you won't have to walk. Be alert on A and Z. Ice is slippery. Joe and I found an interesting new loop out the back of Luecks Lake all the way to the junction of Copper Lake Road and the Ice Age Trail.
Underdown only got about 3 inches of new snow from that much-hyped blizzard so it's pretty, but not buried.
Ski trails are already tracked.
Snowshoe trails have new tracks around the Big Bog Loop, with an easy to follow trail to Dog Lake. Don't head all the way to Mist Lake unless you know the way. There should be tracks that far by Saturday. This will be real snowshoeing instead of that sidewalk boot hiking we have been having.
47 hikers came out to the Underdown snowshoe trails on Saturday including seven fast ladies who made it around the Mist Lake loop with me. I had to work to keep from slowing them down. For the first time we were able to boot hike to Dog Lake on our Ice Age hike day with no will effects on the trail.
The trail was as fast and grippy as a sidewalk on the fat bike tonight. I attempted to follow the tracks of an earlier rider around Mist Lake, but it was still too soft even after I let a lot of air out. Bike tracks ended just over the first hill, and I was debating whether I should push it into the dark hemlocks up the next when out of the stillness I heard the scream of a juvenile sasquatch that people tell me is a bobcat screech. I know they can't hurt me, but that incongruous yowl can give you the feeling that something is watching. I headed back to Dog Lake remembering the only other time I've heard that sound, alone after dark on Turtle Lake Road after hours of silence. I know that exact spot just like the exact location of the four times I've seen wolves in the wild are imprinted in my head. Bears and owls I can forget, but some critters stay with you.
The bobcat I heard was something like this, but a bit less raspy, more a cross between a coyote and a crane. Sorry for the guy cursing, but that sound can freak you out, especially in the dark a few miles from the car.