sna poems #118: natural bridge and rockshelter

my friends, the natural bridge and rockshelter sna has exactly that, a formation cut into the sandstone over millions of years and the largest in the state. excavations done here reveal remains and artifacts dating back to ca. 9,000-8,000 bc. (!) it’s a wonder surrounded by upland oak forests and remnant prairie.

we’d visited before (and my wife, mamie, graciously agreed to be in a few shots for scale), but it’s been too long. the rock shelter is 60′ wide and 30′ deep, but it was late in the day and i simply didn’t have the energy for more pictures. next time (again). it was hard to see all the initials and words carved into the bridge’s base; i’m not a stickler for humans not interacting with natural environments that are being preserved, but the degree of defacement is tough.

up and down and up and down, then some tiny virginia waterleaf just starting out.

a.

for ten-thousand years

we’ve lingered*

in this neighborhood

b.

you’ve sprung out the earth

been festooned

with verdant drapery

c.

ridges and pockmarks

triumphant

over wind, sand, oak

  • “we’ve lingered” referring to our species, in no way attempting to erase the 200 years of the settler-colonial project in wisconsin.

sna poems, #117: hemlock draw

hemlock draw is yet another gorge in the baraboo hills. the terms (“draw,” “hollow,” and “gorge” are used fairly interchangeably in the area.) this particular gorge has honey creek running along its bottom between sandstone and conglomerate cliffs.

the draw is named for hemlocks b/c this is another place in the hills where more northerly species of plants (including hemlock) grow in the southern part of wisconsin. it seems this is b/c of the species’ ability to linger along the microclimates of the gorges where cooler conditions have prevailed; communities that died out this far south with the retreat of the glacier were able to hunker down in spots that persisted cooler.

there are sea stacks here from when the whole area was under water, tho’ we didn’t catch them this time as the day was drawing on and legs were getting weary. next time.

first id of yellow-rumped warbler, and some more signs of forb life here than in other spots we walked that day. the bare cliffs are imposing and majestic.

a.

cleared forest, lamb’s ear

and nettles

a new world from rot

b.

yellow-rumped warblers

are chirping

wtih last year’s bear corn

if you made it this far: there was some burn along the top of one ridge, and this hollowed-out snag was still standing precariously, with the glossiest burn all around the interior. smell and touch are absent, but the view was fascinating too.

the rubble ’round the tree’s base.

sna poems, #116: pine hollow

a winding rural road up one of the baraboo hills out past baxter’s hollow took us to the top of pine hollow. pine hollow sna is a sandstone and baraboo quartzite gorge roughly 300 ft deep w/ flanking cliffs as high as 80 ft (according to the dnr’s page). a wide variety of life here, as the deep gorge affords a variety of habitats. hemlocks and white pines tower over the cliffs.

moss and ferns lie thick on the ground along the stream bed. there’s also a sedge meadow at the bottom of the hollow, but we spent our time up in the stony heights.

a late spring snow was falling and swirling up and down the gorge while icicles hung off the outcrops along with the moss and liverworts. trackless and gorgeous (pun very much intended). also, a first id of rattlesnake plantain.

a.

spring snow in the pines

bare sand stone

and conglomerate

b.

outcrop icicle

pudding stone

ferns matting gravel

sna poems #114: pewit’s nest

pewit’s nest is a sandstone gorge thru which runs skillet creek. it appears the gorge was formed when glacial lake wisconsin burst its shores and carved out all manner of getaways in the surrounding terrain. it’s a beauty with several low waterfalls and a small forest surrounding.

on this trip, some titmice welcomed us onto the path, virginia waterleaf was getting going, and we had the pleasure of meeting a barred owl just hanging out in the top of a conifer growing on the northern side of the gorge.

the site was being abused by folks leaving garbage and tromping off the trails a while back, and i was glad to see that it looks like things are going better now, and that it’s because the dnr enabled access rather than denying more access. that is, they made more deliberate paths, put up wooden fences to steer folks thru the site and off the bluffs etc. good stuff and a welcome end to easter sunday 2022.

a.

the grey titmouse crest

on iron

flash of rust away

b.

here the weeping ferns

the moss rows

cool below the falls

c.

perched above the slope,

the pine bough:

brown and white cascade

so many woodpeckers knocking on wood on these hikes. all over.

sna poems #80: waterloo quartzite outcrops

waterloo quartzite outcrops is a pair of sites with precambrian red quartzite and paleozoic conglomerate rock outcroppings. the northern site i visited is a clay loam island amidst wetlands along the crawfish river. the quatzite was apparently a manadnock (bare exposed rock uncovered by erosion) in the precambrian. this was my first visit in dodge county for this project, and a beautiful, foggy morning.

first i climbed the rise and saw my first mayapple blooming and a nice oak wood. on my way back to the river and amidst canada anemone, wild geranium, and virginia waterleaf stands, i came upon some of the outcroppings in secluded clearings. fabulous.

i caught sight of the first outcrop after spotting some stately mushrooms. i like when that happens. 🙂

a.

traces of stone

under crane flight

geraniums in bloom

b.

mayapple’s first blossom

high on the ridge where stock

and stone bide together

c.

not mine to know

who’s splashing away

down in the hollow

d.

a slow and mossy eruption

of brecciated quartz

smothered by soil and time