Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hiking The East Bluff & Balanced Rock Trail At Devil's Lake State Park

Three weeks ago we had a gorgeous 65 degree weekend, so we drove to Baraboo, Wisconsin to do some fall hiking in Devil's Lake State Park.

Devil's Lake is everyone's favorite park in Wisconsin and it is also Wisconsin's largest and the most visited state park averaging three million visitors per year.  There is something for everyone to do here.  You can boat, kayak, fish, swim, hike, hunt, camp, rock climb, scuba dive, ski, sled, and snowshoe.   We have camped here (see this old post from 2012 HERE)  during the summer and we really enjoyed the hot sandy beach and warm 70 degree water to swim in.  The lake is 368 acres and 47 feet deep.  It is surrounded on two sides by 500 foot quartzite bluffs.  Most of the hiking trails are either on the East Side Bluff or the West Side Bluff. 

There are so many beautiful hiking trails in Devil's Lake but if you're only in the park for one day, the East Bluff Trail is a must!  It is the most popular trail as it on this trail you get to see the famous features the park is known for:  Balanced Rock, Devil's Doorway,  and Elephant Rock and Cave.

The East Bluff Trail is described as moderate, which I would agree with.  However, to see Balanced Rock or Devil's Tower you have to descend down onto a rocky cliff side which can be tricky for some people.  If climbing on sheer rock cliffs is not your thing, but you still want to see the spectacular views, the easiest way to get up to the top of the bluff is to start on the north shore where the ascent is less steep, then take the East Bluff Woods Trail back down.  

I honestly found the forest trails almost as spectacular as the scenic views from the top of the bluffs.  The fall foliage in Devil's Lake State Park is AMAZING!  I know it's too late to go this year, but if you want to plan a fall trip for next year, plan on going the 2nd or 3rd week of October.  When these pictures were taken, it was the 2nd week of October.  But, we enjoyed ourselves so much and wanted to finish another part of the trail, so we went back the following weekend and felt the colors were even more vibrant!

There are many, many jaw-dropping overlooks on the East Bluff Trail.  Every time you think you saw the best view ever, you turn a corner and there's an even better view!  My husband and I wondered why Devil's Lake isn't a national park instead of a state's just that incredible.

The section of the East Bluff Trail we took this day was 1.1 miles long one way.  You can continue to hike along the East Bluff for another 0.6 miles,  but we saved that stretch for another day.  

There are so many interesting rock formations on the trail.

This is Elephant Cave.  It is very small, you can't really go too far inside to explore, but you can poke your head in and snoop around if you dare!

This is Balanced Rock.  I did not have a good experience on this trail.  To see the balanced rock, you have to get off of the East Bluff Trail and climb quite a ways down a rocky cliff.  It was a super crowded day and the trail was literally so packed with hikers that people were "waiting" just for an opportunity to move.  The problem was that the trail is very narrow and steep and you can climb up to see the Balanced Rock from the bottom too so we kept have "Traffic Jams".  Also, the pine needles just dropped so the rocks were very slippery and people (even young ones) were slipping and falling.  I had my walking sticks and they were a life saver because I could use them as a bannister to climb down the steep rocks.

I was so overwhelmed by the time I got half way down the Balanced Rock trail that when I saw the rock I said "That's It? I hiked down a mountain to see this?"  ha ha!  The Balanced Rock Trail is only 0.4 miles and is described as "Challenging".  I would say that is very accurate!  It is a difficult, steep, climbing trail with no railings.  One slip, and you're a goner!  It takes about an hour to climb this trail, longer in the summer due to the crowds.  The Balanced Rock is about 2/3rd's of the way up to the top of the trail.  If you'd like to experience what it is like hiking down Balanced Rock without any people around, there is a great video of the experience HERE!

But the views from the rock were incredible! 

Hubby was brave enough to go stand right next to the rock, but I was not.

Well, once we saw the rock we decided that due to the crowds (and the fact it was past lunch time and we were hungry) that instead of going back up the cliff, we would just walk the remainder of the Balanced Trail down to the lake level and call it a day.  I was disappointed, because I really wanted to see Devil's Doorway, but we decided to come back the following weekend.

Once again, the forest views did not disappoint.

Once we finally reached the bottom of the bluff we headed for the potties, had a snack, then checked out the gorgeous lake views from the south side of the lake.

Now here's the tricky part.  On the East Side Bluff, the only way to get back to your car parked in the north shore parking lot is to either climb back up the bluff and take the East Woods Bluff Trail or the East Bluff Trail back (Or you could go all the way around the south end of the lake and take the Tumbled Rocks Trail back, which is a spectacular trail. See this old post HERE. ).  Hubby thought the day was already late and that would add a lot of miles to our already taxing day, so he suggested we take the railroad tracks back.  You are not supposed to walk on the railroad tracks, as it is used twice a day, but everyone walks on them.  It was filled with hikers when we were there.  And frankly, I've been to Devil's Lake multiple times in my life and I've never seen a train go through this park, so I have no idea why they say on their website that a train goes through twice a day.  I also don't know why they just won't put in a trail on this side of the lake.  

When you're down on the beach, it's fun to look up and see how far you climbed.

All in all on this day we hiked one mile on the East Bluff Trail, climbed down 0.4 miles, and hiked another mile back to our vehicle.  We had a picnic lunch on the grounds near the beach, then got back into the car and enjoyed the beautiful colors even as we left the park.  We couldn't wait to come back next week and see more!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

August and September Bible Journaling Pages

I have been so negligent in publishing my Bible Journaling Pages that I decided to publish two full months into one post.  I assure you, I have been reading my Bible daily;  I need it now more than ever during these tumultuous times;  but my struggle came in finding time to blog about my pages.  August and September were super busy months for me.  It was harvest season and I spent most of my days picking crops in the morning and canning/freezing in the afternoon.  That continued well into September too.  God surely gave us a bountiful harvest this year.  I have more vegetables sitting on my canning shelves and packed in my freezer than I think we can even eat in a year.  I also took a vacation to Indiana to see my children's new home.  We spent the week with them checking out all of Carmel's hot spots plus we spent two days in Kentucky visiting the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter.  Those travel posts will be shared with you this winter when I have more time on my hands to blog.

In the meantime, I want to share where I am with you in my Bible Journey.  I finally finished the book of Psalms (that is a very long book!) and started Proverbs.

Here is a pre-printed image that I simply colored in with gel pens.  Most of my pages are pre-printed images as I didn't have that much time to create my own pages.

I love this pre-printed image and the verse.  We need to remind ourselves of this right now, don't we?

The entire image was colored with gel pens.

This is a page I created myself.  I just loved the verse "they are confident and fearless".   So many people are filled with fear right now over this Coronavirus and all its repercussions.
 Fear is not of God.  He doesn't want us to be afraid.  We need to trust Him to care for us.

To make this page I colored the background with gelatos then used a variety of alphabet stamps for the sentiment.  I used a lion image from an old MFT set because lions remind me of something that is fearless.  I then hand wrote my own thoughts on this verse using a white gel pen.

A lovely pre-printed image.  I find this verse very cheerful so I colored in the background with happy, bright gelatos then I colored in the words and images with gel pens.

The next couple of pages is an example of how sometimes I make big boo-boos in my Bible and I have to figure out a way to fix them.  What happened here was that I used stamps on the previous page without putting Gesso down on the page first, it really bled through to the opposite page and looked really bad.  So I covered up the pages as best as I could with a dark water color, trying my best not to cover up the scripture too much.  I know a lot of Bible Journalists cover up the words of the Bible frequently, but I really try hard not to do that if possible.  I then took a toothbrush dipped in white craft paint and scattered the white dots over the red watercolor.

I created the verse using stickers.  The little boy is a stamp from Stampin' Up!.  I stamped him on a separate piece of card stock, colored him in, and cut him out.  I hand wrote "Trust the Lord" on his shield and also doodled around that verse on the page.

On the opposite page, when I read the verse "Because he bends down to listen I will pray as long as I have Breath!"  I was just blown away.  Have you ever read a verse in the Bible and were just blown away by the significance of it?  It's an incredible feeling.  I could just picture God bending down to listen to me.  What a loving and caring God to listen to his children.  

I made this page by just using stickers to emphasize the scripture.  I wanted to remember it and never forget it.  I wanted to see it right away when I scrolled through my Bible.  To make the scripture really stand out, I just added one simple praying hands stamped image.

Here's another page I created myself.  I painted the background with yellow craft paint then stamped a honeycomb image over it.  The words are a mix of stamps, stickers and my own handwriting.  The bee and other images are stamps.

Like many Americans, I found the rioting and non-peaceful protests very disturbing.  Around that time Keys of The Kingdom created a free printable to help us all deal with the civil unrest through Bible Journaling.  The verse "I am tired of living among people who hate peace" really penetrated to my very core for it was exactly what I was feeling.  I used the images from this digital set to create this page.  I first colored the background with gelatos then cut out the images and adhered them to the page.  The images were printed on sticker paper which made it really easy to attach to my bible page.

And here is another page I created using that same set.

A pre-printed page colored with gel pens.  

What a beautiful verse.  Our prayerful tears will become shouts of joy.  Have you ever prayed so hard and diligently over someone you sobbed?  I have.  And I have seen the harvest of those tears as well.  God is good!

Once again, I used gel pens to color in this pre-printed image.  God does know EVERYTHING about us.  There is no need to lie, to keep anything from Him, to pretend to be someone we are not, because He and only He knows who we were are.  

A beautiful pre-printed page colored with gel pens.

As I finished the end of Psalms and began the book of Proverbs I had this lovely image to finish the book plus a new Title page to color.

I first colored the pre-printed image with gel pens, then I used water colors to make the image more surreal.

The title page was colored with a mix of gelatos, gel pens, and pencils.  I used a green gelato to color the edges of the page.

And finally, for my last page I used gel pens on the words and pencils for the heart.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my Bible Journaling pages today and most of all that they have inspired you.

I always get asked about my art mediums.  I use these gel pens HERE and Faber-Castel Gelatos.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fall Hiking Week Two: A Return To The Ice Age Trail

In last week's travel post I shared that my husband and I made a brief stop at the Chippewa Moraine Ice Age Trail.  We took a small loop behind the Interpretive Center  and enjoyed it so much we decided to come back the next week to hike the 4.5 mile Circle Loop Trail.  

(If you missed last week's post, and want more information about the Ice Age Trail and why it's named as such, be sure to check out last week's post, as I won't be repeating that same information in this week's post.)

On our return trip, we were so excited to see that fall colors were still so vibrant!  We were afraid they would be past peak before we got the chance to come back, but there was still a lot of color.

This loop trail is very easy to hike.  It is mostly flat with slight inclines and declines here and there.  It primarily goes through a forest and passes many small lakes and ponds.

Because of all the bodies of water surrounding this trail there are lots of cute rustic bridges that provide great photo opportunities.

I just love it when there is fall color both above you in the sky and on the ground below.  It's like you are surrounded in a sea of color!

The lake views and the mirror reflection in the water are just stunning.

This bridge was so low it was flooded with lake water so they added some beams right in the middle to walk on so your feet don't get wet.

I just love walking through a forest on a crisp cool day, don't you?  The sounds of leaves crunching under your feet and being out in the fresh air is wonderful!  So good for your spirit. 

I did stumble upon a grass snake on the path and screamed because it startled me;  but grass snakes are completely harmless.

I love how even the ferns below the trees turn a gorgeous yellow hue.

I found so many pretty red leaves that I took home and pressed between a book and they are now part of my interior fall decor!

The AllTrails website describes this trail as "Easy" but in the comments other hikers said "Moderate" would describe it better because of the inclines.  As a 58 year old experienced female hiker who has hiked all sorts of trails all over the country in many different types of terrain and climates, I would definitely describe this trail as "Easy" as well.  Yes, it is 4.5 miles long, but it is so level most of the time, I was not even out of breath once.

 I hope you're all getting out and hiking this fall.  Many of you have commented that it's still hot where you live.  We are experiencing unusually cold temperatures here in Wisconsin with it being only in the thirties during the day and in the twenties at night.  Despite the cold weather, we are still getting out and enjoying life!  I recently discovered Under Armour Cold Gear and I can't say enough about their products! I'm sold for life and I will have to do a fashion post on them soon!

Next week I will be back with a another hiking trip in Devils Lake State Park!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!