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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Take Me to the Rock River

The Devil's Staircase segment of the Ice Age Trail heads across a railroad track and along the edge of a golf course for a short distance before you arrive at the Rock River.  It was quite a sight to see, and I'm glad I came at a time of year when the river would be so visible as I walked the trail.

I strapped down all my gear before navigating the steep man-made stone stairway.  It's a good thing I did because when I got halfway down I finally saw what I was hoping to see for weeks and I stopped short and squealed out loud.

caution going down!

The Devil's Staircase is actually a natural ravine cut in to the hillside with some artful boulders lining it.  But I was too distracted by its mantle of Dutchman's Breeches to get any pictures of the rocky ravine itself.

There were also some plants that I think are Meadow Rue just emerging.  If I'm wrong please help me out!

The one macro shot I'm really happy with!

It took me a few minutes to realize that the other plant mixed in with the Dutchman's Breeches was Wild Ginger as this is a plant I haven't been able to find before.  Its tiny blossom hides at the base of the plant.  I figured it out when one literally stared me in the face as I walked past it.

Here's an example of why I'm sending back the macro lens.  I tried repeatedly to get a shot of the inside of the blossom and just couldn't get it to focus as well as I would have liked.  The autofocus didn't know what to focus on, and manual focusing has become really difficult wearing standard progressive lenses so I'm going to try taking my new "computer" lenses along with me next time. (Sigh, more stuff to lug along and switch around)


A quick and easy shot done with the Camera+ app on my iPhone produced a sharper image, though the rich color and attractive blurring were not present.

I finally tore myself away from the glorious mass of wildflowers (all within five minutes of the parking lot, by the way) and got myself back onto the trail.

great bench just past Devil's Staircase to sit and watch the Rock River flow by
Sharp lobed Hepatica - taller than Round lobed
and much larger leaf (shot with iPhone)

As I was picking my way up and down along the ridge I heard people coming up behind me so I stopped to let them pass.  You want teenagers in front of you, not behind you I've discovered so you don't have to listen to their conversation, right?

Teenagers walking through mass of spring wildflowers

Another flower I was surprised to see was the Large Flowered Bellwort.  I did not know that it grew here in the upper Midwest!

There was a section of the trail that wound through some dramatic limestone.  The 1.7 mile long segment is a series of terraces along the Rock River that are a result of glacial outwash brought by the river away from the glacier margin.

young love on the trail

The trail ends after coming down another staircase into Riverside Park.  The Janesville segment starts at the other end of the park and follows the river through the city.  I'll save that segment for a warm sunny day in summer.  With the hike back to my car still to do I wisely turned back and completed the 7.6 mile round trip just barely before dark.  The return trip only took me 1.5 hours with two very short breaks after steep hilly segments.

Wayne hits the road with two of his neighborhood buddies for Alabama in our fifth wheel.  They're on the way to Talladega and won't be back for 6 days.  I wonder where I'll end up camping and hiking this weekend?


  1. Glad you found some wildflowers blooming in your neck of the woods!

  2. I love this post!! No wonder you had to squeal. Those wildflowers are just beautiful. Of course, I've never heard of any of them. The Dutchman's Breeches are so darn cute:) And that wild ginger is adorable. The woods look so dreary and cold, I am surprised there were so many wildflowers. What a neat treat to your hike.

  3. Your iphone takes better pictures than a lot of cameras I've had. What a great wildflower day. I'd squeal too. We were so happy to see the Jack in the Pulpit but we missed the Dutchman's breeches which are serious favorites of mine. Early spring there for sure. I really like this section of the trail. It has been fun to hike it with you. I wouldn't even know about the Ice Age trail without you. Thanks.

  4. Looks like a pretty hike with all the wildflowers. I can just hear you squealing.