THE PRE PRUNE, second from left, endures a walk in Mitchell’s Glen with “old people:” His parents and brother, Dana. submitted photo
by Todd Sharp
Every year there’s an article in the Green Laker about someone’s personal experience with Mitchell Glen off Skunk Hollow road. Here’s my take on this magically spiritual space owned by the Green Lake Conservancy.
My first visit goes back a few decades when Mrs. Dorothy Kohl was the owner. Our entire family had taken a day during father’s annual vacation week to go on a walking tour. This 10-year-old thought he’d rather been playing kickball, batball or baseball instead of walking slowly behind “old” people plodding through the woods.
But I was fascinated by the cool, serene place close to home.
This summer, I was proud to be invited to go back. I enjoy Tom Eddy’s talks about the geology and biology of the Glenn, seeing others’ reactions to the magnificence of the area and the cool vibe of the misty, naturally carved, awe inspiring crevice in the limestone.
After roll call, the school bus ride from the Sunset Park felt like a summer-school field trip with Mr. Redman’s 7th Grade class. Bouncy in our seats, some of us restlessly sitting two by two, others by themselves; anticipating and swiveling to see everything.
The short trip brought us to the uphill side of the Glenn. We quickly jumped off the bus and scurried down the trail to the second greatest part of the tour. The stream runoff barrier stops dirt, fertilizers and chemicals from getting in the water flow and dumping into Green Lake, brilliantly blocking the potential of the Mackford Prairie from completely filling up the Lake.
After this important conservation lesson, we heard about and pondered some old foundations and listened to the story of the namesake of Mitchell Glen.
After a short, slippery walk along the top of the steep cliff we approached some very well thought out and built steps with a hefty rope handrail (so thick you could pull in Moby Dick). The pace slowed so as not to rush and keep upright. We didn’t lose a single hiker on the way down.
When we got down to the knoll before the river we looked to the east and saw the magnificent wall of the Glen. There was a gorgeous wooden planked path on the opposite side of the stream so we didn’t trample the Skunk Cabbage plants on the floor of the Glenn. I took in the beauty as Tom enthusiastically talked about the micro ecosystem.
Some wonderful plants grow here, many of which typically grow much further north. Maple and Basswood forest. Mountain Maples and hundreds of other plants unique to the Glenn.
He told us the floor of the Glenn is covered with these huge, tropical-like leaves of the mature skunk cabbage.
It turns out this is the real reason for the name “Skunk Hollow Road,” not a mishap with an early settler and an overprotective skunk as I have long suspected.
The absolute best experience is standing in silence; looking out at all the magnificent wonder, hearing the stream trickle, breathing in the plant-filtered breezes, imagining the millions of years ago when this was created and thousands of years people have stood in the same spot and felt the awe and reverence of Mitchell Glen.
I hope to go back in another 40 years … or so.
Editor’s note: Although Todd Sharp can be a stinker, he’s no skunk when it comes to appreciating his surrounding, including the insides of businesses where he sells advertising for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.