This little section of the Wisconsin is so gorgeous when it's foggy that I dashed out with the camera before even having coffee. It was worth it though.
While out on a field trip with some folks with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin at Star Lake, a storm came by. Mostly it imissed us and was really fun to watch and hear it go by.
What was and what shall be
The moss comes up to greet you on this trail by Star Lake. It's so soft and springy that you have to touch it and even take a seat.
Led to One
A section of trail along Star Lake in Vilas County. It's part of the Plum Lake Hemlock Forest SNA. Glaciers created the lakes and the steep banks. Beautiful hiking and the hemlocks are impressive.
An old growth hemlock forest has such a dense and sweeping canopy that the understory is all but absent making it a superb mushroom habitat!
The way was unclear
A barely there trail that I followed to a tiny meadow full of milkweed and monarchs. Only on my way back did I notice a very worn, tattered and weathered no trespassing sign. I guess if they can't put up new ones I can make the trip.
To the rendezvous
One of the trails on Rock Island. Not only is it quiet and peaceful, but there weren't any mosquitoes or other nasty biters. Heaven!
Went for a little stroll around Jackson Harbor on Washington Island. A pair of red winged blackbirds really didn't like me being on this footbridge. I think it was near a nest.
Balanced Rock trail
The rock really is this color on the eastern ledge at Devil's Lake. It is quartzite which is made by great pressure and heat being applied to sandstone, which of course, was originally sand. The formations were probably formed 1.6 billion years ago making them some of the oldest formations in North America. This shot was taken on my way down as it got very windy, cloudy then started to rain just as I reached the parking lot. Great timing!
The timeline's history
On the East Ridge trail you pass by these enormous quartzite ledges. In a way they remind me of some trails in NH, but the rock is very different from granite.
Walls of Eternity
The ledges at Devil's Lake are quartzite and granite and reminded me of some parts of NH where lots of granite ledge is exposed. I had to carefully position the tripod on a steep slope for this shot, but the rocks were so imposing I had to give it a try.
On the East Ridge Forest trail I was stopped in my tracks by a seciton of forest with a beautiful ground cover of small maples. It was very windy and made the branches overhead dance.
Agents of change
The wind whipped up while I was on the East Ledge forest trail at Devils Lake. This gave me the opportunity to do some long esposure work, something I've been meaning to do for a while now. The overcast light helped out a lot.
I have no idea why the Devil is associated with such a lovely park featuring a big glacial lake, steep rock ledges and interesting formations, but I guess human creativity only goes so far.
Wishing for nothing else
Feet and tripod in the water again, but it was worth it, Ripley Creek is lush and beautiful.
Composition of the senses
When I set out to Ripley creek on an overcast day I wore sandals so I could get into the stream. Glad I did!
Inflected by consciousness
There is another, much more enormous, tree over Ripley creek and I got onto the base of it for this shot upstream.
And you will dance with joy
I walked around and around this section of grassy woods because it was so enchanting. The layers and depths of the spring greening was just amazing. The perfect place for a wildlife hide.
A shouted whisper
Another pool with a tiny bit of water remaining. Often it's hard to show them in total, but this one has a great presentation and you can see clearly how full it gets in other times. I love the framing trees, too.
To step inside
Much of the woods where my house is was logged for conifers and so the understory seems thin and the grass is lush. This was one of the few real saplings I could see at a glance. Really beautiful and so different from NH forests.
If I hadn't gotten turned around in the woods I wouldn't have discovered this really lush section that took me by surprise. New England woods doesn't have grass like this. So lovely.
This was one of a few new pools I found while exploring the woods across from my house. I wish it still had water in it, but there's always next year.
Lately I've been looking for interesting slices of woodland that help convey some of why I think it's magical to be there. Little surprises all over.
I can hardly resist taking pics of trees down in the forest. In a way it's sad, but it's a vital process of how a forest works and regenerates.
Affinity for possibility
I love how all the new plants make the vernal pools feel hemmed in, kind of intimate and sheltered.
The tempo is decreasing
Water levels have gone down substantially in many vernal pools - this was one of a few that still had water at all. Things are greening up though!
Pause for the effect
Just a twist of the polarizer eliminates a lot of the reflections allowing us to see down to the leaves and the tannins that shade the water.
Overhead and under water
Whenever I shoot vernal pools I am torn with wanting to see down in the water and the reflections of the sky and trees. I can't pick a favorite.
So to the woods
With muck boots on I could get into this vernal pool for a different perspective. Oddly I end up doing a lot of hand held shots more than keeping the camera on the tripod.
The farther I walk in the woods opposite my house, the wetter it gets. I will be bringing along my gum boots for futher exploration. I love the combination of pool and what seems to be a small sedge meadow beyond. Lots of deer scat here so I think they like what's on offer.
This vernal pool and one next to it will be my primary subjects for a project I've been thinking about for years - to photograph, study and appreciate the role of the vernal pool in forests. I hope this one is deep and large enough to last through the season, but with Wisconsin's rains I think it will be safe.
Lazarus no more
The woodland trail at Scott and Shelp Lakes, this section is the hemlock and cedar section, but further on it is mostly large white pines. Mushrooms galore though. And birds. Just after taking this I watched some golden crowned kinglets chasing bugs in the trees.
By crooked steps
Rhodora, leatherleaf, bog cotton, larch, black spruce and sphagnum moss - I love bogs and everything that lives there. The colors are changing, but not too much. I wish the boardwalk was longer.
The way into darkness
I love bogs, so when I heard there was a boardwalk into one up by Scott Lake I went. Alas it is a short one, but there are other trails nearby so it was fine. I love how this one disappears into the dark of the woods. And I think that's rhodora there on the sides; the only laurel I've found here in Wisconsin so far.
Many segments of the Ice Age trail intersect with snowmobile trails and this one has a substantial bridge over this part of the brook, but a few hundred yards downstream there isn't one. There is a sign that warns 'Icy crossing'. I'm working with dappled sunlight to see if I like the huge range of light. I think it adds depth to this shot, but the trees are a bit overwhelming. It's what you have to deal with when the expected overcast clouds burn off!
A creek with no name
Less than ideal lighting conditions meant I had to try to harmonize the light with the brook. Sometimes when you come into a shaded area from the sunlight it seems hushed and special and something only you have wandered into. I tried to convey that here. I like the little stripe of sunlight on the rocks in the foreground.
Turtle Rock trail
Playing with sunlight in the forest again. It gives to much texture to a scene like this. And a little depth. It's a lovely place to walk and I wanted to convey how magical the light is. Success?
Let your spirit breathe
Dappled sunlight in the woods is sometimes tough, but I'm making it work. This one has a slight sliver of light mid-frame and I think it does wonders for the color and depth. This is the Turtle Rock segment of the Ice Age Trail near the Cty Rd E trailhead.
This section of grassy woods made me go off trail to see if I could find a decent composition. The light is a little harsh, but it's magical anyway. I'll have to remember to return in spring when the trillium is blooming - there are tons here and should make for some great photos.
The Plover river segments of the Ice Age trail are really interesting; the river widens and meanders and creates islands that you can hop along. It's tannic and clear as anything. I keep going back and back.
After walking a bit on the way to the Plover River, I kept an eye out for an anchor in a forest view. This enormous stump worked perfectly. I'll have to look at this shot in deep January and remember.
The view from one of the very tall viewing platforms at Sandhill Wildlife Preserve. It was so windy that hand holding the camera was steadier than the tripod would have been.