NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ridges and Swales

Our first full day in Door County was a winner!  It started out cloudy and windy, but we knew that wouldn't last long.

Baileys Harbor view

My parents decided on a whim to visit Katrina in Menominee and then make a stop in Door County for a few days before continuing on to visit other relatives in OshKosh.  I decided that was a golden opportunity to force them to see the "quieter side" of Door County.  Most folks come to the area to shop and go to fish boils...we're going out of our way to search out the hidden treasures, of course.

No moon view...this time

Ever heard of The Ridges Sanctuary? Me neither until a patient at work mentioned it this winter.  After some internet research this destination became the focal point for our proposed Door County getaway and that is how we ended up in Baileys Harbor away from the worst of the crowds.

Admission to the privately owned sanctuary is $5 to walk the trails.  In the visitor center we also purchased the trail guide for an extra $2, along with some great all natural insect repellent called Bug-Me-Not that is made right here in Door County.  There was a basket of sprays available to use before hitting the trails and it was one of them.  Make no mistake, even on a cooler windier day like the one we visited you'll want to put something on.

The Ridges is a series of low sandy ridges alternating with swales.  The swales are low swampy areas, you know, the kind of place mosquitoes love.   Each ridge was formed during the final stages of a lake level rise and grew while the lake level was falling.

Solitude Swale

 Each ridge took 30-50 years to form.  Within the sanctuary wooden bridges span the swales to link the trails that are on the ridges.

We got there a little less than an hour before my parents, so we had some time to get information and do a little bit of pre-looking to scope out the elusive Ram's-Head Lady Slipper.  We didn't have any luck spotting it on the Mountain Maple Trail, but when Wayne went out to the parking area to look for my parents I got lucky by running into the naturalist, Carol, who was happy to take me right to the spot.

Even though the sandy margins of a boreal forest is perfect habitat for this plant the naturalist was only able to locate three specimens on the property at this time.  It is a State Threatened plant, here and in neighboring states, and I must remind everyone not to poach Lady Slippers as they are practically impossible to transplant and all that is accomplished is that yet another plant dies.

The tiny flower was about the size of my thumbnail, and its darker color was hard to spot.  Be careful and stay on the trails, this one was less than a foot from the trail edge!  Even stepping off the trail to let someone pass could endanger a special specimen like this one.  Keep an eye out!

Picture perfect Trillium

We hiked most of the Winter Wren Trail with Mom and Dad, pointing out things of interest to them, like the tree that was struck by lightning.

And there were a few dragonflies flitting about along with the mosquitoes, and even one resting on the bench, so be careful where you sit too!

But the biggest surprise was when Wayne spotted a snake slithering out of a hole in the side of the visitor center.  Mom dropped to the ground below and then two youngsters stuck their head out to see what she was up to.  I'll link this post to Saturday's Critters in honor of these little guys.

There were plenty more wildflowers we spotted, and after my parents left us we made our way down to the range lights as well.  I'll save all that for some later posts...and that's just a start to all the neat things we've seen so far!


  1. Great post, the scenery is beautiful. Sorry, about the bugs.. they can be a bother.. Love the hummer, dragonfly and the snake.. Cool wildlife sightings.. Thank you for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

  2. Like that snake photo. So did the Bug-Me-Not work or not?

    1. I'm going to tentatively say that it did. The breeze helped a lot too. I'll report on it again after using it under more severe conditions.

  3. What gorgeous lady slippers. I have never seen anything like them. And the two little snakes picture is terrific. What a great thing to do with your parents. My mother was always interested in camping and hiking. My father not so much.

  4. Wonderful! I love the lady slippers and the snakes are so cute.

  5. oh wow. . .we just visited the Ridges last week as well. . .loved it, and the lady slippers.

    Would love to post a link to your post on my blog if that's okay. . .it always nice to read all the different perspectives on a place I think. . .


  6. What a wonderful landscape, must be great to go hiking there. Great photo of the snakes!