Friday, January 7, 2011

The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon

The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Foraging Waterfowl, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Remnant of Ancient Errosion, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Devil's Lake State Park’s bluffs are part of the Baraboo Range, which scientists believe were formed 1.6 billion years ago, making them one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America.

These ancient hills are formed of quartzite rock, which consists of grains of sand tightly cemented together. According to geologists, the sand was deposited by rivers as they drained into shallow seas covering this area a billion years ago. As the sand accumulated, it first formed sandstone (a porous sedimentary rock) and then, under great heat and pressure, became quartzite (a non-porous metamorphic rock).

Prior to the last Ice Age roughly 15,000 years ago, the ancient Wisconsin River flowed between these hills before being diverted to it's present location to the East by massive continental ice sheets. The resulting terminal moraines effectively dammed the river at the north and south ends, and formed the lake that resides here today.

Stillness at Baxters Hollow

Stillness at Baxters Hollow, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

In March of 1995, The Nature Conservancy designated the Baraboo hills as a “Last Great Place,” one of only 75 outstanding ecosystems in the western hemisphere and today as you know, we can explore this great place at one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks, Devil’s Lake. However there are some smaller tucked away areas just perfect for those of us looking to avoid the crowds and really feel alone with nature. One little known area is just west of Devil’s Lake State Park and is known as Baxter’s Hollow.

Baxter’s Hollow is managed by the Nature Conservancy and is a dedicated State Natural area with one marginally maintained trail. This is not a public park as such, but a preserve. The trail is often muddy and is not meant for extensive public traffic. It is most often used by student groups studying the Wisconsin Environment.

Baxter’s Hollow is notable for the large area of deep forest and the mountain-like Otter creek within. At Baxter’s Hollow there are still moments when you can stand and listen to nothing but the breeze rolling through the hollow and the occasional songs of the native birds. Baxter’s Hollow is your best chance to bypass the summer tourists and explore the quiet natural wonder of our beautiful state.

Wisconsin Countryside

A Winters Flow, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Encompassing more than 24,000 square miles in the states of Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, the Driftless Area is one of America’s unique
natural resource treasures. Bypassed by the last continental glacier, which
flattened Midwestern landscapes and left behind large deposits of soil and rock—or
drift—the area was, as Ted Lesson aptly described it in his book Jerusalem Creek:
Journeys into Driftless Country, “an island of land rising from a sheet of continental ice.”