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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Roadside Rockets

My stay in Baraboo at Devil's Lake State Park ended up only being for Thursday night.  I paid for two nights and the first night was quiet but it's a busy park on summer weekends and apparently I ended up in the "young people" loop.  Too much noise for my taste so I packed up my tent and drove the two hours home at dusk.  I was pretty happy to be so close to home and able to make a decision like that, and now I know it's wiser to avoid the more popular parks in the summer.  It was much nicer in the spring when I camped under the rookery in the group camp area!

Ice Age Campground, 400 loop

They've been gradually replacing the shower facilities at Devil's Lake in their 3 campgrounds, but the Ice Age campground still has an older building whose pipes clanked alarmingly when I flushed the toilet.  There is also only 3 very small shower stalls with no benches and just 3 hooks for your stuff.  The shower stall is so small that the hook on the back of the door is useless unless you want to wear wet clothes afterward!  I didn't check out any of the new ones but they were working on them when I was here back at the beginning of April.  Entrance into the state park is only through the main gate and once you're in it's almost all one way roads laid out in a confusing manner, but it is well signed so just pay attention!  Both of my visits here I was disappointed to find the park staff kind of unfriendly and not very helpful when I asked questions, not common at all in our parks normally so I'm wondering what kind of crap they have to put up with from visitors to make them so surly.

I only stayed one night at the park, but I did hike for two days while in the area.  If you're seeing lots of tall purple and white (and sometimes pink) flowers blooming on the roadsides and at the edges of woods it's probably not phlox but Dames Rocket.  Phlox all have 5 petaled flowers where Dame's Rocket has 4 petals.  I saw so much of it Lodi when I drove there from the campground and was delighted because it reminds me of our days out on our farm.

roadside rockets

 As part of the drive from Devil's Lake to Lodi I decided to skip driving around the end of the Wisconsin River and took the free Merrimac ferry instead.  Yes, I said free!  Trip time is about 7 minutes, and I just missed the one that was leaving so it was probably 15 minutes before I got across.  Which just happens to be the amount of time "saved" by taking the ferry instead of driving around.  Still, it was a fun experience and if I'm driving by and the timing is right I'd take it again.  It does run 24 hours a day so you don't even have to worry about that.

My destination for this hike was the Groves-Pertzborn segment of the Ice Age Trail.  It travels up a steep hill with lots of wildflowers under the canopy including Wood Anemone, Wild Geranium, Solomon's Seal, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Mayapples so large they came up as high as my hip!

Wild Geranium lined the trail

The Dame's Rocket was plentiful at the trailhead and some were even multi-colored.

Something else that was plentiful was Poision Ivy along a grassy stretch, so make sure you wear long pants and don't wander off the trail.

posion ivy alley

After 15 minutes of continual uphill hiking I came out into a ravine that took my breath away.  I felt like I was in a secret place and the world felt very far away.

After leaving the ravine it was a gradual downhill slope that cut right through a field of more Dame's Rocket.  Brushing against the plants released a light fragrance that is much less overpowering than the lilac in bloom now.

the familiar yellow IAT blaze 

Due to the dense vegetation I kept checking my boots for ticks eagerly crawling their way toward me, but surprising all I found trying to hitchhike a ride was a caterpillar.  These little green guys were everywhere, I picked them off my arms and clothes continuously.

Notice how soaked my Keens were?  They are supposed to be waterproof and I noticed them leaking when I wore them recently on the Point Beach segment too.  I'll be contacting them for a replacement which we had to do recently for a pair of Wayne's boots as well so I know I won't have any trouble getting the issue resolved.

Dame's Rocket and the Wisconsin River

I took another hike while in Lodi, attempting the City of Lodi segment.  That turned in to an adventure I won't soon forget.  While I like an uneventful, relaxing hike the lack of stories to go with my posts has been a bit disappointing.  After I share this one with you I'll be okay without a story to tell for a while!

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