Scenes from Wilderness Days 2021

Text by Beth Bartoli, Newport SP Naturalist
Photos by Deb Ford, NWS Board

Click on any photo to view in larger format

Labor Day weekend is seen as the unofficial end of the summer season. Here at Newport, it means it’s time for Newport Wilderness Days. This event was started in 1992 as a way for the members of NWS to showcase their beautiful park. Over the years, many volunteers have led hikes and given talks about the things that make Newport such a special place. Held on September 4th and 5th, seven different programs were offered in 2021 covering a wide range of subjects.

Though it rained on Saturday morning, more than 25 people joined us at the shelter building for Coffee on the Beach. With hot coffee and fresh baked treats provided by Kick Ash Products, no one seemed to mind the rain. Many thanks go out to NWS board member Carol Ash for always making sure we are well supplied with her wonderful goods.

Coffee on the ‘beach’: Saturday morning started out with rain showers

Visitors had an opportunity to hear two different people talk about Newport’s rich history. Dr. Bill Scheckler, past president of NWS, spoke of Newport’s history and the role that Ferdinand Hotz played in acquiring and preserving the land that is now a large portion of Newport State Park. He also recited a poem he wrote called, “Newport Through Time and Space”. (See article here.)

Bill Scheckler
Bill Scheckler and fans

Pete Oleson also spoke about park history through the eyes of his great-grandfather, Peter Knudsen, who was one of the original founders of the town of Newport. He was also the light house keeper on Pilot Island, the post master and owned the general store. Pete had some great personal stories and answered questions about his family history. 

Pete Oleson
Pete’s great grandparents, Peter and Susie Knudsen;
Peter Knudsen was one of the original founders of Newport-town

Park naturalist Beth Bartoli led a hike on the Sugarbush Trail, looking for signs of autumn. The forest floor told the story with late summer asters blooming and mushrooms starting to appear. A young junior naturalist in the making kept everyone on the lookout for little toads and frogs.

Park Naturalist Beth Bartoli
Mushroom season
Junior naturalist in the making

The rain kept the Bug Hikers indoors at the Nature Center, but past board member and entomologist Dick Smythe entertained and educated adults and kids alike about insects and spiders. No one seemed to mind being inside with all the “bug talk” going on.

Entomologist Dick Smythe

The wonder of an ancient insect’s home

Geologist Jack Travis, past president of NWS, talked about the rich geologic history of Door County and of Newport. The group hiked the Ridge Trail, an ancient shoreline, then went off to see the gravel pits within the park.

The geology hike draws a large group
Geologist Jack Travis
Jack Travis leads out his geology hike

Trees and shrubs of Door County was presented by arborist and horticulturist Tom Wolfe. A member of NWS, Tom shares his vast knowledge several times a year at Newport, bringing many examples to show visitors, and answering many of their questions.

Arborist Tom Wolfe
A beautiful day for some outdoor ‘tree talk’

Over 150 people enjoyed the Wilderness Days programs that were offered at Newport this year. A huge thank you goes out to all the presenters and volunteers that helped make this event so successful.