Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Day Hike 2015

Devil's Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin, extremely busy in season, and beautiful even in January. The park is 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI and contains over 29 miles (46.7 km) of hiking trails. While much of the world stayed awake until midnight New Year's Eve, I went to bed early and started 2015 the best way possible. Hiking!

With the temperature a frigid 13°F (-10.6°C), a piercing wind froze my fingers as I tried to fill out the form on the envelope for my annual Wisconsin State Park sticker until I couldn't move them. I also wore my camel back inside my coat due to freezing, and found that I needed to warm my camera in an inside pocket to overcome battery issues. Despite this, the parka my husband gave me for Christmas kept me toasty warm. Thank you, Honey.

Little to no snow and ice cover left the trail easily passable in trail runners, unusual this time of year. As the morning progressed it warmed up to 22°F (-6.6°C). Starting from the South Shore, the national Ice Age Trail ascended 0.4 miles up the bluff to Balanced Rock. It traced the East Bluff Trail, then followed the East Bluff - South Face onto the Uplands Trail portion of the Ice Age Trail for almost a mile, where the Ice Age Trail split off from the Uplands Trail and gradually descended the Roznos Meadow Trail down to South Lake Drive.

With family waiting at home and a chill setting in, I backtracked along South Lake Drive until picking up the Grottos Trail back to the South Shore parking area.

National Ice Age Trail up to the East Bluff / Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock.

East Bluff South Face.
Huge quartzite boulder along the trail.

Between Darcy's Buttress and Happy Rock, remnants of a recent candlelight tribute.
Time to back track from the Roznos Meadow Trail along the South Lake Road
to the South Shore parking area.

Once again, my GPS app lost power in after 4.2 miles (6.8 km) due to reduced battery life in cold temperatures. The national Ice Age Trail portion of the hike tracked, while the back track on South Lake Drive and the Grottos Trail went partially untracked. A map of this route and other trails Devil's Lake State Park, is available at the Wisconsin DNR's website. A daily or annual state park pass is required to park at Devil's Lake, there is no fee for hiking. See the Wisconsin DNR's website for fee information.

Trail Conditions - Well marked, easy to follow trails, cold 13°F (-10.6°C), little to no ice and snow cover.

Distance Covered - Approximately 6 miles (9.7 km).

Difficulty - Strenuous on the portion ascending up to the East Bluff Trail, remainder moderate.

Location - Devil's Lake State Park South Shore, near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Highlights - The spectacular view to the South and East from the East Bluff, Balanced Rock, the candlelight memorial on the bench.

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