We departed the Chicago area on Monday, heading for Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin. We hadn’t spent much time in The Badger State, and since our Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers, we thought it would be appropriate to see more of it. We chose that particular state park because of its hiking trails and spectacular scenery; it is so special that the Nature Conservancy named the Baraboo Hills as one of the Earth’s Last Great Places because of their rare plants, animals and rocks.
Our favorite hike here was up the Balanced Rock trail… lest you think that this was an easy hike, since Wisconsin is relatively flat, here is your Humble Correspondent trying to decide which rock to clamber up and over next…
And here is our intrepid Hiker Chick posing next to the eponymous hunk of quartzite itself. “STOP! Don’t push that rock!” That’s beautiful Devil’s Lake in the background, about 500 feet below her.
Another 5-star hike was up Palfrey’s Glen, a gorgeous mini-canyon with hundred foot high walls and a clear, very cold mountain stream cutting its way into the bedrock.
The geology here is glacial; the ice sheets and glaciers that covered this area (known as the Wisconsin Glaciation, it lasted until just a few months ago) left enormous piles of rocks scattered across the landscape. The compressed rock and glacial till in this photo is known as conglomerate, or “plum pudding stone”, and is a mix of quartzite and sandstone from ancient beaches.
I thought I’d get a nice picture of these tree roots clinging to the canyon wall, and asked Suzanne to step up for perspective… not knowing that an orb would pop up in the photo, right around her head. (Maybe she really is an angel…)
The blog has been absent for the past few days because we have been “Off the Grid”. Our AT&T cell phone service was somewhat less than “limited” in Wisconsin… in fact, it was all but non-existent. The only way Suzanne could get her Sanaya and blog posts out was by sitting on a bench outside Jen’s Alpine Cafe in Baraboo and connecting with their Wi-Fi. The town advertised a free Wi-Fi zone, but perhaps it was on the fritz. While Suzanne worked, the puppies and I chased squirrels in the town square (this is now one of their favorite places). I also got to admire this World War I cannon. Its location here seems fitting, because in WW II Baraboo’s Badger Ordnance Works was the largest ammunition plant in the world. Baraboo was also the original home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and was known for decades as Circus City.
Just before getting underway on Wednesday morning, I took a short hike from our campsite down the hill to Devil’s Lake. I like early mornings; the lighting is soft, people aren’t up yet, it’s quiet, and you’re more likely to see wildlife than later in the day. I sat for a few minutes, joyfully watching two ducks taking a morning swim and enjoying the moment… then back to The Coach to load up the caravan for our next stop: Minnesnowta!