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!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bald Bluff Nature Trail

Well, you all know me, one hike was not enough.  In the Kettle Moraine area there are a lot of scattered destinations that fall under the care of the State Forest and State Natural Area system.

Barbara really enjoyed the Queen Anne's Lace

Bald Bluff is a self-guided nature trail with numbered posts that along with the pamphlet at the trailhead tell the story of General Henry Atkinson and the Blackhawk War in this area.  If you're picking up a pamphlet at the trailhead watch out for hornets and wasps, we saw them poking their heads out of the donation box.  We felt it was better to forgo a donation in those circumstances.

Field Bindweed has arrowhead shaped leaves

Even though the heat was starting to climb a bit we were all up for the 1/2 mile hike up the bluff after a quick reapplication of sunscreen and insect repellent.  Nothing stops true adventurers!

Lots of Sumac at the trailhead

Another flower that has been abundant here in southern Wisconsin for the last few weeks is Asters, but I didn't get an opportunity to get a nice shot of them so I made do with some Fleabane instead.  I'll make it a point to hunt down a nice patch of Asters on my next outing.

Common Fleabane

General Atkinson wasn't the only famous American who has camped here.  Abraham Lincoln slept here as a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Blackhawk war.  Maybe I should pitch my tent at the nearby Ice Age Trail Shelter so I can say I slept where Honest Abe did.  Truthfully this might be a good place to have my first overnight hike in August or September.  The Ice Age trail Blue Spring Lake Segment intersects with this trail with the segment starting at the Emma Carlin trail parking lot and ending at the Bald Bluff parking area.  At 7 miles it's definitely something that could be done in an easy day.

Flowering Spurge

Bald Bluff wasn't just important from a military standpoint, Native Americans also used it for its vantage point above the prairie and to light signal fires.  I wouldn't advise lighting any signal fires up there now, that probably wouldn't be wise.

Ron leads the way

The ascent is a little steep, but easier than most trails I've done in the Smokies!  Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for things like this Lead Plant.  Technically a shrub it can live for centuries but doesn't get taller than 3 feet.

When we got to the top of the bluff there was a sign that said not to go past the fence.  I just couldn't believe the couple of pieces of wood at Barbara and Ron's feet were supposed to denote a "fence" so I moved on down what was obviously a well worn path to see if there was another fence further down.

Safe behind the fence

Of course there wasn't another fence.  There also wasn't anything to see.  There was supposed to be a prairie, but it was crowded with Sumac which  means it's probably due for a burn.  I thought the prairie down by the parking lot was much nicer myself, so you can skip the rule-breaking if you go.

Letting me take the risk, I'm a rebel

My new pals and I never ran out of things to talk about, and one of them was Barbara's calendars that she makes.  I've made a few featuring my photos in the past, and I know Linda does as well.  This year mine was a desktop model that I brought to work that the patients flip through while they're waiting to check out at the front counter.  Most of them catch on that I'm the photographer and it makes for a great conversation starter about places to go!

A home is a home no matter how big or small

Of course our time together had to come to an end.  Not only were we all getting hot and tired, but check-out time at the campground is 3:00 and I'm not always a rule breaker.  That is one I always follow in case someone else needs the site.  It only took me a few minutes to break down my tent and then I was on my way, but I'm sure I'll catch up with my new friends somewhere else down the road.

As a traveler whose followers are mostly travelers as well I've got to ask if anyone else has watched "An Idiot Abroad".  I watched the first two seasons a few years ago, and now I'm watching the third season where Karl, the put-upon-reluctant-tourist is forced by Ricky Gervais to take Warwick (of Harry Potter, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Willow fame) along as his "mate".  The unlikely pair are retracing Marco Polo's route from Venice to China and almost every word out of Karl's mouth is pure gold.  He looks up at the winged lion sculpture in St. Mark's Square (Lion of Venice) and says "What's a lion doing up there with wings on it? If that was done today you'd go - what is that shit?"  I'm watching it on Netflix and in addition to Karl's reactions to the places he has no interest in visiting I like it because there is usually a lot of in depth mixing with the local culture, the more different from ours the better to discomfort Karl.  What are you watching?


  1. I didn't know they began a new series with Karl. I'll have to search it out. What am I watching? Naked and Afraid. I'd never last the 21 days.

  2. We crossed the ice age trail several times while driving around North Kettle Moraine too . I hope you get to hike it. Oh, the book I mentioned about the girl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is called Wild by Cheryl Strayed.