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Friday, April 3, 2015

On Top of the East Bluff

On the edge of the group campground where I spent Tuesday night was the CCC parking lot for access to the CCC hiking trail.  The trail is about 0.3 miles straight up the east bluff and at the top it intersects the Ice Age Trail.

The Brown family from Illinois passed me on the trail and graciously agreed to let me photograph them in action.  Their three kids were agile and fearless and the family was bound for some rock climbing near the top.

Devil's Lake from the CCC trail

It turned out I should have admired the views less and kept up with the folks ahead of me because somehow I missed the spot where the trail keeps going to the top at Darcy's Buttress.  Keep your eyes peeled so you don't miss it.  Maybe it was the rock climbers that distracted me.

Friendly climbers

I picked my way along the unofficial climbers route on the east bluff and it got so hairy that I started feeling decidedly unsafe and turned around.  After all, I was not attached to the bluff by lines and had no one to back me up!  It took me fifteen minutes to pick my way back to the climbers and discover the correct route up.

Not the trail!

Once I made it back onto the real trail signs and trail blazes abounded.  I was happy to be on mostly flat land again!  I am not interested in rock climbing as a sport, I will freely admit to being dizzy quite a bit on this ascent and as I picked my way along the bluff face.  Lots of hands down on the rocks, pack tight and camera stowed, and a turtle probably could have beat me to the top.  A little dizziness won't keep me from getting where I want to go, but there's more than one way to the top and I would investigate a different route if it's a concern for you and I wouldn't go this route again.

This looked more like I remembered from our past visit

Wayne and I had come to the area back on our first outing with my dad's new camper.  I have the pictures somewhere, I'll post them up after I finish up with these new ones.  On this trip my legs were shaking from all the rock clambering and after I went down another steep set of stairs I decided I better turn around and take another way down off the bluff since we had seen the big sights on this trail before.  Two days in a row and my legs didn't feel steady enough to be safe since I haven't hiked since February.

Back up on top of the bluff I connected to the Ice Age Trail and made my way gradually downward.  I caught sight of some turkey vultures and made my way to the edge to watch them soar past.

This way to great views

I didn't think you could beat my experience with the herons, but the turkey vultures were pretty impressive.  I had an eye level view of them controlling themselves as they rode the air currents.

 After the aerial show it was a long, relaxing walk through the woods while I munched on my tri-colored carrots and enjoyed the sunshine and quiet.  I only passed one other gentleman on this section who assured me that the trail did cross the park road like I thought further along.  And even though I kept checking, the ticks don't seem to have come out of hiding yet either.

I was out on the trail without sunscreen for an unplanned 3.5 hours.  Luckily I didn't get burned, but I was plenty thirsty since the temps soared to 77 degrees which was 10 degrees above the original forecast and I hadn't brought enough water.  Never had a parking lot looked so good.  Like I told the guy on the trail, not like I was going to die out there, lots of folks driving around to pick me up off the road if I got woozy.  Most folks I saw on my two days out had no packs which meant no snacks or water at all, and most of them had kids along with them as well.  Bet they were even happier than I was to get back to their cars!

I got another section of the IAT done, but that downhill trek to the park road included a somewhat steep uphill walk of 1 mile to return to my car for a total of about 7 miles that day I estimated.  When I break a lazy streak, I go for it!


  1. Nice shots of the turkey vultures! Glad your weather has improved enough for hiking. I'm going out to the Gorge tomorrow.

  2. Great TV pix! So neat to see the vultures below you!

  3. Ron and I really liked that park. Unfortunately we only went for the day.

  4. Boy I'd say you do go for it. Sounds a bit scary. Glad you are safe. That's a serious heat wave compared to recent hikes.

  5. Great blog, great pictures and even greater to meet you that day and enjoy such a wonderful day.