Last week was my first trip to Devil’s Lake and I took a hike through the east bluff, starting at the hardest park of scaling the rocks to discover the balancing rock. The rock remains with its talus slope and pile below, waiting for the eventuality. I climb over to the rock and it reminds me of the balanced rock at Arches in Utah. I miss it.
Devil’s Lake was originally a gorge of the Wisconsin River prior to the last ice age. At what is now the southern end of the lake, the river turned from a southerly direction to an easterly direction. During the ice age, a lobe of the glacier passed to the east of the Baraboo Hills and came up the river valley. It deposited materials and then melted, leaving a terminal moraine blocking the river, forming an earthen dam. Another moraine was deposited at the north end of the lake. The river eventually found a new course to the east of the Baraboo Hills, where the glacier had been, leaving a portion of the river gorge between the moraines filled with water. This body of water is Devil’s Lake.
Standing on some of the rocks, overlooking the water, I feel the wind, pulling and singing. Come to me. I pass. The wind also howls through the paths until I reach the north side of the lake, a beach with sand. Maybe 30 degrees.
In the distance I hear a train coming down the tracks. I step to the side of the tracks and watch it slowly pass, wave to the engineer, no caboose. I have not hiked back home over railroad tracks in a long time. I count them as I go.