Section Hiking the Wabash Trace Trail | US-34 to Malvern; Malvern to the West Branch of the East Nishnabotna River | June 2021
In the month of June, we were able to continue our section hike of the Wabash Trace Trail by hiking a few miles on two different weekends. We had some longer trips planned for later in June and thought it best to stay local on these weekends. The first half of the month was hot and dry, with temps in the 90s most days – very non-conducive to walking with Charlotte. We combatted this by walking early in the morning. It helps that the majority of the trail (at least the parts we’ve done) is shaded so we’re never in direct sun for very long.
For both of these sections, we started by parking at the small trailhead in Malvern, Iowa. On the first weekend, we walked North up to US-34 where we had left off previously. This section was 4 miles round-trip with the majority of this stretch being paved, easy, and uneventful, and we were able to complete our walk in a rather short amount of time. It was clear that it was definitely summer though as there were many, many bikers, though only one other walker. I guess we’re in the minority for trying to walk the distance of the trail.
The true highlight of this walk was the plethora of wildflowers along the trail, in the fields, and among the trees. As we’ve noted before, one of the pleasures of walking the trail over a LONG period of time is we’ve gotten to see so much of the seasons change. This week the star plant was poisonous hemlock with its white flower clusters and towering stems.
The next weekend, we started in the same place and this time headed South. We knew it was about 7 miles to the next town, so we decided to split the distance in half and save the other half for another time. The trail started by walking through Malvern, and once we were out of town the trail went from a paved sidewalk to gravel path once again.
Not long after leaving town, we came across 3 separate downed trees. All three were rather large and with one we had to walk through the branches, but since we were on foot we had a considerably easy job getting around them. The same couldn’t be said for bikers, and because of that we had the rest of our walk largely to ourselves.
We walked all the way to the bridge over the West branch of the East Nishnabotna River. Here we found the third train wreck along the length of trail we’ve seen, with a few train cars left abandoned in the river. On our way back, Curtis picked mulberries from trees along the path, and by the end both Curtis and Charlotte had purple feet, and the back of Char’s legs were also purple somehow.
The real memorable moment of the morning was when we were nearing Malvern, we came across 4 young girls also walking into town. The leader of the group was very loud, yelling at them, us, other people passing by in cars, or just to hear her own voice. When she saw Charlotte, she loudly proclaimed confidently to everyone, “IT’S A SAINT BERNARD!!”. In the words of musician Nik Kershaw ‘(S)he was bold, confident, and wrong’.
We returned home, and later Curtis started his attempt at making mulberry wine with his findings from the trail, as well as from a nearby park. Now, almost a month later, we can say with certainty that this was a successful attempt!
Aside from these two weekend walks, we haven’t been continuing our habit of daily walks that we had been taking through most of the fall, winter, and spring. Instead, we have turned that into “summer evenings at the park,” where we take Charlotte to nearby parks to enjoy the cooler evening air, let her sit in the grass or in sandboxes while we sit with her, play Pokemon Go, or Curtis metal detects. We certainly miss the milder weather and being able to walk a lot more, but thankfully we have enough plans to keep us busy throughout the summer. More on that, next!