The end of 2012 brought a visit from my brother in law (DH’s brother), who was our house guest for a few days. He’s a quiet sort but as he lives in Southern California, he doesn’t get many opportunities to go “tromping about in the snow”. He decided that with the snow we’d had recently, “tromping about” in it was just what should be on our agenda.
I was asked for locations that I thought would be suitable for a tromping; the temperature hovered at 22 degrees Fahrenheit and if we were in the trees, the breeze that was evident by the sway of the treetops wouldn’t bother us. I suggested the UW Arboretum first which was met with much nose-wrinkling, then suggested Natural Bridge State Park. A plan was laid to head over to Natural Bridge State Park, though I did warn that I wasn’t sure the parking area would be plowed out as it is a minimal maintenance park. We arrived to find, just as I feared, the driveway covered in over a foot of snow and even with our four-wheel drive, we didn’t want to chance getting stuck trying to drive up into the park.
“Now what,” came from both parties in the front of the Explorer, their heads swinging back to me. How did I get put in charge of all of this anyway? So I responded, “There is always Devil’s Lake… it’s not far.” The men nodded. Devil’s Lake would be our new destination. DH turned the Explorer around and we were off once again.
Now, I should have remembered from all the other times that we’ve hiked at Devil’s Lake that the lake itself is in somewhat of a “punch bowl” and the winds funnel down into the area, hitting the South Shore with something akin to a gale-force. I should have remembered that… Shoulda, but didna.
We took the Tumbled Rocks Trail that winds its way between the boulders on what would be the west side of the lake. The trail passes some permanent vacation homes at the end where it picks up with a rough road for some yardage before joining with South Shore Drive that takes the traveler around the south end of the lake to South Shore Beach. The Tumbled Rocks portion was pleasant, though the footing was a bit tricky with the compacted snow of previous hikers. Once out of the protection of the trees, however, those gale force winds hit us.
I have what we’re pretty certain is Reynaud’s Phenomenon, which means that being in the cold can be excruciating on my extremities. Despite my dressing in layers, the winds blew right through on the return across the south shore and up the east side of the lake (railroad grading). The guys were cold, but I was chilled to the bones, shivering for a good two hours after our hike until the hot soup I replenished with did it’s work. Lesson to be learned? Always remember that the South and East shores of Devil’s Lake are normally very windy… and wear heavier clothing in winter. Oh, and maybe I had a touch of hypothermia…
All that said, I did manage to crank out some photos before my fingers quit working.