Day 5: One More Hike

I have an unparalleled passion for walking, as you may recall.  Shane’s passion for walking ranks somewhere between his feelings for running and Hello Kitty: tolerable mostly because he loves me.  You’d think that by now, Shane would’ve learned that we have different opinions on what construes a reasonable walking distance.  I have – more than once – accidentally taken family and friends on several mile walks when they were expecting a stroll around the neighborhood.

As a result of this, I try to be very clear about the actual distance we are going to be traveling. Five blocks to a restaurant.  A mile and a half to the coffeeshop.  A parking spot literally around the corner.  Or, in the case, of this morning’s hike, about five miles.

We’d had breakfast and a morning campfire. We’d packed up our campsite. We had nothing between us and Madison except hours and hours of beautiful daylight. Why not go for a long hike?

Firemaker

Morning Fire

Oh yeah, the hills. Or rather: the East Bluffs. Lots of uphill climbing. Lots of sweating and also rock formations that looked like an elephant’s butt.

Elephant Cave

Elephant Rock

Then a tough descent down the Potholes trail:

Potholes

We emerged on the south side of the lake with only, you know, half a lake left to circumnavigate. We had already agreed not to take on West Bluffs, but we still had the south side boardwalk and Tumbled Rocks ahead of us. I’m pretty sure that Shane was ruing the day he agreed to go on vacation with me. I didn’t point out that our distance was less than half of the distance I’ve ran in two races this year. That would NOT have been helpful. I did, however, encourage him to carry on with the possibility of ice cream, beer, and fried green beans when we returned to the north shore.

Hard-Earned Lunch

This is the face of a man who has earned his lunch. Thanks for the good times, Devil’s Lake. We can’t wait to come back.

Total moving time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Total elapsed time: 2 hours, 17 minutes

Average moving pace: 22:23 minutes per mile

Elevation gain: 612 feet

Elevation loss: 613 feet

Maximum elevation: 1,468 feet

Minimum elevation: 957 feet

Day 4: An Evening of Leisure

I’ll just come right out and say it: we’re not good at relaxing. We’re good at doing nothing. We’re good at procrastinating. But we’re not good at relaxing. We went to the beach a couple of years ago and managed 15 minutes of sitting by the ocean before we got bored and reverted to walking around and eating boardwalk food.

All of this is to say that I wasn’t expecting to spend an afternoon on the beach after our morning of hiking. We had lunch. We splashed around in the lake. We laid on the beach and read. We went back in the lake. We laid on the beach until our suits dried out. I finished an entire issue of Vanity Fair. Shane finished The Corrections, which he’s been working on since the fall. We laid on the beach for the entire afternoon.

Before heading back to the campsite, we walked the Tumbled Rocks trail. While we walked, a woman swam across the lake.

Purple Quartzite

Not so much hiking as walking

Devil's Lake

Dinner at the campsite: New Glarus Belgian Red, picked up at the Ice Age Campground store, and local kielbasa with Brussels sprouts – a good German dinner.

Belgian Red

Honest Wisconsin Dinner

Not content to turn in, we left the park for a round of miniature golf at an only marginally maintained course nearby. Seriously, it was basically the worst course ever. I’m certain that’s the reason I spent so much time in the rough.

Teeing up

Day 4: A Long Hike to the Top

Balanced Rock — A difficult, steep, climbing trail with stone steps on the south face of the East Bluff. Spectacular views of Devil’s Lake with the Balanced Rock formation off to the south of the trail. We met a couple from Illinois who were hiking without their five children.  I marveled at how fit the mom was after all those kids.  When we said we were librarians, they asked us about our favorite books.  (.3 mile, approximate hiking time 1 hour)

Hiking Shane

IMG_7513

Triumphant!

Devil's Lake

East Bluff – A medium effort trail that is asphalt with stone steps as it winds back and forth between the edge of the bluff and the adjacent woods. We walked the portion between Devil’s Doorway and CCC, enjoying the hell out of the flat and also our snack bars.

East Bluff

Devil’s Doorway — This is an easy, level asphalt trail along the edge of the top of the East Bluff to views of Devil’s Lake with drop-offs along the way. There is a notable side trail with stone steps to the Devil’s Doorway rock formation.  We talked to three people from my hometown, one of which was having difficulty with the descent due to spatial perception issues from previous brain surgery.  They watched and cheered while Shane squeezed through the rock into the doorway itself. (.5 mile, approximate hiking time .25 hour)

Devil's Doorway

Step 2

Step 3

CCC – A difficult, steep, climbing trail with stone steps on the south face of the East Bluff with many scenic views. We walked through a narrow passage between two large smooth walls of stone, as did an Asian family whose small son was wearing a Michigan hat. (.6 mile, approximate hiking time 1 hour)

Field of Rocks

Grottos — A wide, easy going, compacted travel path along the base of the south end of the East Bluff connecting Balanced Rock Trail, Potholes Trail, and the CCC Trails. (.7 mile, approximate hiking time 1.25 hours). We walked the portion between CCC and the south shore, holding hands and eager for ice cream.

So green

Total moving time: 53 minutes

Total elapsed time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Average moving pace: 25:51 minutes per mile

Elevation gain: 522 feet

Elevation loss: 507 feet

Maximum elevation: 1,473 feet

Minimum elevation: 965 feet

All trail descriptions from DevilsLakeWisconsin.com. Our data was carefully tracked by my Garmin Forerunner – thanks again, Shane!

Day 3: On to Devil’s Lake!

Given our failure to make drinkable coffee, our first stop after packing up camp was Kavarna Coffeehouse in Green Bay – yet another example of the sort of place I wish existed in Ann Arbor.

Photo by paul goyette

Good coffee, a delicious-looking menu, and ample seating on two levels for those wanting to put in a couple of hours of work, catch up with a friend, or catch the occasional local band. We just needed a quick caffeine and internet fix, and Kavarna did just the trick.

From there, we made a quick stop by Lambeau Field, literally jumping out to snap a picture, then jumping back in the car. I’d show you the pictures, but they’re basically what you’d expect given the circumstances. Neither of us have any particular love for the Packers anyway.

Vince Lombardi Statue

Photo by jimmywayne

Let’s not talk about our side-trip to Oshkosh. A consistent theme of our days in Wisconsin was driving on ripped up, formerly paved roads, and Oshkosh had many of them. It also has a totally nondescript, exceptionally boring Brooklyn/gangster-themed restaurant, and a coffee shop with almost adequate sandwiches. We couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Fortunately, our next stop was our destination: Devil’s Lake State Park. I’d been to Devil’s Lake a handful of times in high school and college, and had very idyllic memories of hiking, the lake, and failed attempts at rock climbing. I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to my memories, but we loved it right away – that is, once we stopped to imagine ice age glaciers.

Shane Imagines Ice Age Glaciers

Oh, and once we popped open a few Wisconsin beers:

Campsite Beer

Unfortunately the beers didn’t help with the tasks ahead of us. In addition to all the other things we forgot, we didn’t have a mallet with which to drive in the stakes for our tent – or any sort of fire-starting device beyond our trusty, running low on fuel aim-n-flame. No matter: a helpful campground neighbor took pity and loaned us his axe; he also came back with the axe and some very dry wood to help us get a fire started. In the meantime, I made dinner: mushrooms, onions, and ham in a cream sauce – yes, a cream sauce in a cast iron skillet – served with a salad and English muffins. I would’ve made pasta but, well, you’ve seen what I was working with.

First Camping Dinner

We happily sat by the fire until it burned down – and even more happily turned in early.