Tuesday, January 14, 2014

IAT: Dells of the Eau Claire Segment

The winter weather has definitely been keeping me from hitting the trails that I had planned to hike this month. But Sunday was such a gorgeous day, I wasn't going to let my fear of poor travel conditions keep me inside! Instead, we headed to familiar Dells of the Eau Claire County Park where I knew there would be parking available and hopefully good hiking trail conditions.

It was an odd experience descending the staircase from the parking area to the river and not hearing a sound. Typically these falls are so loud you can't hear anything but the roar of water over these 1.8-billion-year-old bedrocks. Because of the recent extremely low temperatures, the river was mostly frozen over.

There were snowmobile trails and snowshoe tracks criss-crossing the river everywhere. Many snowshoers were out enjoying the trails; we even saw people hiking with their dogs on the river!

The rock formations along the river trail were an unusual shade of white, blanketed in a fuzzy coat of ice crystals. I noticed several handprints in the ice on the rocks, so I added mine as well.

Thanks to previous hiking and snowshoe traffic, the trails were nicely packed down and easy to hike. Charlie was grateful to be outside now that the worst of the cold weather was over. With temps in the mid-30's on this beautiful day, it almost felt like spring!

Snow fell from pine boughs as the temperatures continued to warm and occasionally you could hear a soft "PUFF" as the snow fell off the branches and onto the ground. Luckily I didn't get hit with any of this falling snow, but we did have a few close calls!

We made it all the way through the Ice Age Trail segment and then back-tracked to the parking lot. It was such a beautiful and mild day that I didn't want the hike to end, but I was sore and tired by the time we got back and was glad to be back in the car.

Charlie slept peacefully on the front seat all the way home and continued her nap on the large dog pillow in the living room for the rest of the day. A tired puppy is a happy puppy!