Woke to the alarm at 4:15am on Saturday to head north to Devil's lake state park near Baraboo, Wisconsin. I grabbed a quick shower to wake up, threw my camera equipment and hiking gear into the car and took off. I thought that the weather report from the night before stated partly sunny skies and lite winds. They got partly sunny right.....
I pulled into the park about 5:30, put on my backpack and headlamp and headed up the west bluff trail. Three steps up the trail and i knew that i was in for a tough ascent. The trail conditions were equivalent to a frozen water slide so i had to walk on the side of the trail and grab trees for balance and stability. After about 60 feet, the water bottle that i was carrying in the lower pocket of my camo pants popped out and slid 40 feet down the trail. I knew i'd regret it if i didn't retrieve it so it was back down the trail for a little future hydration. Halfway up the bluff i realized that my pants were soaking wet. I checked my water bottle and found that the tumble down the trail had resulted in a crack in the plastic. I drank the remaining water.....so much for future hydration.
I reached the top about 25 minutes before sunrise and scouted out a couple of spots that i have shot from before. I set up my equipment and waited for the light. The winds were anything but lite but did not seem to bother me much. Sitting on the edge of the bluffs as the sun rises is an incredible feeling. It provides for a strong sense of isolation that ups your senses of everything going on around you. I guess the best way to describe it is like having total freedom from all of life's worries and the experience of truly appreciating life.
As i proceeded to shoot from several different areas and all kinds of angles i noticed a Turkey Vulture flying below me, then 3, then 10, then 25, then at least 60. Eventually their wings caught the updraft of the wind and they were soaring above me. It made me think of the cartoons i watched as a kid that depicted someone walking through the desert while a couple of talking vultures pursued them. The thought made me laugh a bit as i moved back to my camera.
After spending an hour and a half on the bluffs i headed down the southwest trail. The trail conditions were just as bad but going down at least gave me the option sliding on my backside when necessary. The winds at the bottom of the bluff were non existent so i was able to get some nice tranquil shots of a small creek that feeds off of the lake. My eye caught a kingfisher on a branch up ahead so i unsuccessfully tried to get close enough for a shot.........talk about an elusive bird!
I took the lakefront trail back to the north beach before taking the road back to the car. I figured that my total walk distance was close to 4 miles. It was well worth the hassle that goes along with walking up a frozen water slide and it finally gave me that sense that spring is right around the corner.
After months of winter i finally got back to my element....it's where i belong.