I finally had it! Couldn’t take it anymore! One more puzzle with the kids and I was going to lose it.
It was Sunday, Feb. 24, and the 40 mph winds were freezing all of the rain from the previous day and blowing around the snow. Roads (especially the north-south roads) were terrible. But I decided I had to get out of the house, and I was going to take some kids with me. It was time for an adventure.
We bundled up and headed out. Recognizing the wind and the snow may make visibility tough, I grabbed all of our ski goggles and included them in the gear we took along. In the back of the truck was a sled, and Edwin, Estelle and I were on our way. Our destination was one of my favorite “hidden gems” in the area—Johnson Hill.
Johnson Hill Kame is a “moulin” kame, a conical hill of sand and gravel formed by glacial meltwater streams that poured downward through cylindrical holes in the glacier. The swirling motion of the debris-laden water reminded early French mountaineers of a moulin (mill in French). Hundreds of spectacular glacial features can be found within the Kettle Moraine and the Northern Unit contains one of the best displays of moulin kames in the country.
Surrounding the kame is both fields and forest. The southern slope is composed of red oak, big-tooth aspen, beech, ironwood, sugar maple, butternut hickory, basswood, white oak, and eastern hop-hornbeam, along with a marsh area that may get your feet wet if conditions are right. The cooler north slope consists of basswood and sugar maple with beech, red oak, and eastern hop-hornbeam. Johnson Hill Kame is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1992.
As you drive along Shamrock Road to the east of Johnson Hill, it is fun to look over at it—just a big hill popping straight up in the middle of surrounding flat fields. The kids always seem to sort of “gasp” when I tell them to look out the window as well. After parking the car off the road, we were on our way...up! The cold weather and snow and wind had kind of iced over the surface, making for some difficult footing and some pretty funny “slides” back downward from the hill.
Eventually we made it to the top and appreciated the view and the wind. At the top are several concrete pillars that were once used as a tow rope for a sledding hill. I can’t really imagine ever sledding down Johnson Hill, as it’s pretty darn steep, but the remnants of cable and concrete make for some climbing and photo opportunities.
The trip up and down took about 45 minutes and covered about a mile. Most of the “down” was covered on my kids’ bellies, as they slid down the hill, avoiding tress and laughing and smiling the entire time. Soon enough we were back at the truck the requests for hot cocoa were urgent!
As the winter season (hopefully) begins to wind down, it’s important to simply embrace the weather. Mother Nature is impervious to criticism, so we might as well get out there and enjoy the blessings that she offers!