September 23rd, 2016 ~ Day 182
Sometimes I wonder how insane, or maybe the word is obsessed, I am with hiking. Taking a red-eye from Phoenix and arriving in Chicago at 6 am, I proceeded to drive another three hours to do this hike. It’s my 39th birthday and since it’s been over ten years since I’ve hiked this trail, I wanted it to be today. So, doing all this with only three hours of sleep, I picked up my son along the way, and we headed to my aunt and uncle’s home in Wisconsin. My uncle Karl was going to join us on this adventure.
Starting at the north side of the lake we began an immediate uphill climb. It was gradual and the trail was blacktop, so it made it easy. We climbed to the top of the hill to get the amazing views of the lake. Following the trail through the forest on our left and giant rocks on our right, we would see a break in the rocks and get another beautiful view of the lake and the hills surrounding it.
The last time I hiked Devil’s Lake, I was camping on one of our many Memorial Day weekend camping trips. Every year a group of friends would head up here, from Illinois, for a weekend of camping and fun. The last year I did this trip, we hiked Devil’s Lake.
I wasn’t much into hiking, let alone any form of exercise, at this time of my life. I remember it being so difficult to climb those rocks and having to take a lot of breaks to get up the hill. I also remember the beauty that surrounded me that day and now that I love hiking, I had to come back to really appreciate this trail.
Standing in the same spot for this picture, as I was ten years ago with Jimmy and Robin. Two people we’ve lost in the last year, made me a little emotional. I wanted to be here for my birthday and to remember them and the good times we had that weekend. A day of celebration for me and my birthday, and celebrating the lives of people I loved.
I came here for some sort of healing and closure today. One day, I pray, the grief won’t hurt so much. Hiking helps the healing. Nature brings me to my peace and serenity and this journey has is changing who I am.
Devil’s Lake was originally a part of the Wisconsin River and during the ice age was closed off by the Baraboo Hills, which you can see off in the distance. The views of the lake were just so spectacular. I see nothing but amazing beauty all around me.
Mushrooms galore! The scenery here is so much different than the desert. Sometimes I miss all the green and here the green is everywhere! The colors were beginning to change in the leaves. A little here and there, you would see one branch of a tree with red or yellow leaves. It was a little early in the season to see the full fall colors, but I soaked up every little bit I saw.
My son and I on the beginning of our downhill climb. It didn’t look so difficult when we started, but as we climbed down, it seemed to never end. My legs were shaking by the time we were done. It was only a 400 foot or so elevation loss. I believe it was just the steepness of the stone steps we were climbing down. To think, this is where I climbed up so many years ago, no wonder why it was so difficult for me back then.
Once we arrived at the bottom of the hill, we walked toward the lake and had lunch at a picnic table in the park. When you walked toward the beach you could see hundreds of minnows in the shallow water and as we ate, you could see and hear the rustling of the water where the big fish were coming in for their lunch too. Swimming in to get the minnows and disappearing before we could get the chance to see them.
From the top of the hill we saw a group of seven kayaking around the river. In the beginning they were off in the distance across the lake. As we continued on our journey, we ran into them as they were tunneling through one of the culverts under the road. It didn’t seem like they would fit, but they made it out the other side. What an awesome adventure! Next time, I’ll have to do this too.
My uncle and son as we began our uphill ascent, this time beginning at the south end of the lake. I have never been on this side of the lake, so this was a whole new adventure for me. The climb was tough, but not as bad as I remembered it the last time. It felt like this side of the lake was just a little bit taller than the other side, based off the uphill climb or maybe it was just my exhaustion.
Too afraid to stand, for the cliff behind this rock, I posed for this shot on my rear. It was a steep drop off covered by rocks before the lake. Behind me to the right is where we just had lunch. We did the same as we headed back, although the rocks weren’t as high, each time we saw a break in the trees we would sneak a peek at the beautiful views of the lake.
From this view, you can see the Wisconsin River in the distance behind Devil’s Lake along with the Baraboo Hills surrounding the lake. The fog was rolling in. The air was moist with a little bit of humidity. It seemed so late in the season to be this warm out, but I was enjoying every minute. It looked like it could rain, but we never received a single drop.
A hawk flying above and as we came to the edge three more were circling below. I love the beauty that nature has to offer. Shortly after this we began our downhill ascent. The trail, still blacktop, was wet and slippery. I’m not used to this, neither are my shoes, and I fell. Slipping on my hands and knees, somehow I decided to do a somersault. I so wish they had caught that one on camera.
We hiked a total of 6.2 miles, exactly what I was looking for. It was an amazing way to spend my 39th birthday! I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
To see more photos, check out YouTube at https://youtu.be/4nM-xYpSEac