high cliff escarpment state natural area is inside high cliff state park in calumet cty, wisconsin on the eastern shore of lake winnebago. here is a fantastic length of exposure of the niagra escarpment, the dolostone rock formation that arcs from southeastern wisconsin to niagra falls.
a hardwood forest atop the escarpment contains a number of effigy mounds, mostly water panthers and a set of twin buffaloes. the combination of the gloaming, shagbark hickories, mounds, and limestone was exquisite. three lunes here to celebrate.
three generations of riyeffs up and down the cliffs. last sna in calumet cty!
point beach ridges is, according to the wdnr website, a series of 11 swales and ridges parallel to the current lake michigan shoreline in manitowoc cty. the ridges and swales are former beaches of the last eight millennia that used to border glacial lake nipissing. open blowing sand near the lake to juniper/bearberry dunes to swampy swales to fully forested ridges give this site a tremendously varying quality. super fun to hike, and we had a gorgeous late-autumn day for it.
last visit to walk all of manitowoc cty’s snas.
first id’s of bearberry, bunchberry, birch polypore, and dune goldenrod! first non-bog id of sphagnum moss. (thanks to twitter folks for help with recent ids)
nipissing swamp is, according to the wdnr website, the largest remnant hardwood swamp in northeastern wisconsin. fascinatingly, the swamp is in a wetland basin that was formerly a lagoon of glacial lake nipissing (which name refers to an indigenous nation in canada). the beach can still be seen in remnant dunes and barrens.
it was gun deer hunting season last weekend, and our blaze orange was in the other vehicle, so we didn’t go in deep. but even getting off the road a bit was a delight. across the first swampy swale and onto the first ridge, balancing on downed logs across the mud. the club moss was out in droves and soaking up the late-autumn sun. gorgeous swamp weather with birch and cedar swaying above.
just under 3,500 acres in the baraboo hills abutting the southern shore of devil’s lake, south bluff/devil’s nose is (by southern wi standards) a huge swath of oak and maple forest. according to the dnr’s website, it’s home to a number of rare birds and plants, and pine glen and messinger creek are found here, though we didn’t encounter these this trip. devil’s nose is the eastern end of south bluff, along where the railroad curves out and away from devil’s lake.
our trip was up the first, northwestern-most bluffside in the site, as the kids were along. but they had already hiked the east bluff and gone to ski-hi (apple orchard) by this time, so i was immensely impressed by their stamina and eagerness on this gorgeous, off-trail, up-bluff, windy, sometimes a little rainy hike. it was a fabulous time, and my first time on the south bluff after nearly forty years of visiting devil’s lake. will be coming back.
p.s. my camera was struggling w/ our starting to lose the light on an overcast midwestern day, so photos a little rough. i’ve taken a few sharper images from my wife’s too.
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.
donges bay gorge is a steep ravine that cuts thru an undulating bluff on its way down to lake michigan. this was part of a wealthy landowner’s swath of property but was purchased by the ozaukee washington land trust and, very thankfully, opened up to the public.
lots of spring ephemerals here during the early spring, but mostly going to sleep for the winter now. tho’ we met some delightful fungus, moss, and bark still doing their things. the lake could be heard whispering below and the low-angle sun cut faintly thru the trunks of white pine, maple, red oak, aspen, birch, and linden.
we were trying to get to a different preserve north of here, but it was closed for deer hunting. then we remembered donges bay gorge and how great it was, so we visited again. i think it deserves two slots in the supplementum series. why not?
light snug on the gorge
invite us along
water clutching rock
a small frozen fall
the mushrooms know well
it’s their time
below the white pines
anyhow, if you made it this far, i’m thinking this is what it looks like when moss smiles: