Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Devil's Lake State Park

Over the Labor Day week-end we made a trip to Plover,Wisconsin, the home of our niece Rachel and husband Ben and daughter Eliza.  Also visiting them were Rachel's parents Marcus and Heidi, as well as her brother Adam and his wife Kjerstin with their son Kai..  Our travels are certainly wonderfully enhanced by family gatherings!  Technically I was done with writing about southwestern Wisconsin.  Devil's Lake is north of Spring Green, about 20  miles south of the Wisconsin Dells.  As I had written before, the southwestern section of the state is called the Driftless region.  In contrast to that area, Devil's Lake is glaciated.  It was formed many years ago when the Wisconsin glacier invaded hills from the east, and impounded an ancient river.  As the ice melted it left a mass of rock and sand (moraines) at both ends of a gorge, damming the river and creating Devil's Lake.  That is about as simple as I can make it!  The park has within its boundaries parts of the Ice Age National Trail,  so we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that we did not have to pay the state fee for entering the park because we had a national park pass.
It was a sunny day when we arrived at the park in the early afternoon.  However, at our first stop we encountered rain.  Many people swimming and boating on the lake for the holiday week-end were caught unawares and the park soon cleared out quickly.  We visited the Visitor's Center where we received a booklet on Devil's Lake.  Information in that brochure provided us with a 17-mile driving tour around the lake, which seemed the better way for us to see it given the uncertainty of the weather.
It turned out that the showers we encountered were fairly brief and we could occasionally stop the car and hike.  Messenger Creek and springs are the only water input into Devil's Lake, it has no natural outlet.  The lake itself is less than 50 feet deep.  Parfey's Glen is another natural treasure of Wisconsin.  As Spring Green Preserve, it has rare plants and animals- many plants here are commonly found much further north.  We hiked into the glen; a moist, lush woodland within a narrow sandstone gorge.  We had to stop and turn back when our path became steeper and required us walking over slippery wet rocks.  By that time it was getting late into the afternoon anyway and we were certainly not feeling adventurous!
Our last stop was on the western side of the lake.  The weather had cleared and we felt that we still wanted to see an overlook of the lake, unfortunately that did require a hike up a bluff.  The bluffs which surround the lake can be as high as 500 feet.  On this, the western side of the lake, we are looking at the Baraboo Hills off in the distance.  The vista from here was certainly worth the effort of climbing up to see it!   Today was our last one in this section of Wisconsin, from here our plans were to move to southeastern Wisconsin.

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