Monday, November 25, 2013

Earth Works

Photo from Nature Center
Since November is Native American Month, my last post for this month is devoted to the cultural history of Perrot State Park.

Native Americans long ago realized the special draw that the Trempealeau area has on it's visitors. From the narrow width of the Mississippi River held to its shores by the uprising of rocky Bluffs and the prominence of Trempealeau Mountain, this area was a magnet for traveling groups of Woodland to Hopewell cultures. 

Mounds at Perrot
They left their mark with earth works, mounds of earth that covered their burials sites and perhaps to denote land boundries. The earth works are found in conical, linear and rectangular step mounds to animal shapes refered to a "Effigy Mounds".

Photo of Display at Nature Center

Be sure to stop into the Nature Center and enjoy the informational display. As you view the mounds in the park be respectful and do not walk on the mounds.

Photo of Display at Nature Center

After searching for more information on the cultures of Native Americans I came across  a very good book while bumming around La Crosse with my friend Judy.  "Twelve Millennia-Archeology of the Upper Mississippi Valley" by James L. Theler and Robert F. Boszhardt. ".We purchased it at the Archeology Museum on the campus of UW-La Crosse.

Til next month Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah, Safe Travels to see Family and Friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


North Entrance Sign
Just downloaded a new app "The Official WI Fish and Wildlife Guide". Very handy Pocket Ranger application to assist with information on state lands, ie parks, natural areas, forests, plus it's free.

Checked out a few things for Perrot and you can access the hunting and trapping area maps for the park. A really good thing this time of year.

Information for bird watchers, with updated sightings by the DNR and rules and regulations at your fingertips.

The app also has GPS features with mapping, haven't tried this out but it could be pretty valuable when out in the field.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Give Thanks

I'd like to take a moment to thank the Rangers in Parks everywhere, especially the ones I've gotten to know at Perrot State Park.

Park Entrance
As a kid I was a bit taken with the Ranger Rick's magazine, maybe that's why when taking my aptitude tests in school it was indicated that I should pursue life as a forest ranger or entertainer. Go figure, blogging about a state park is as close as I may come to those test results. The job of being a Park Ranger is a lot more than I imagined in my youth.

Park Headquarters
I now have a new appreciation for all they do for the parks. As I see it, they are the real stewards of the land, they protect the parks resources for future generations and protect those that visit it. They are ambassadors, helping to preserve and pass on the natural and cultural history of our lands.

Here's a list of the many different hats they wear-

Emergency Responders- search and rescue to first aid
Firefighters-Spotting and extinguishing damaging fires
Scientists- Studying and monitoring our environments
Scholars-Interpreting the history, landscape and wildlife of the parks
Administrators- Budgeting and managing the parks resources
Guides-From fishing tips, to nature hikes they know the park
Maintenance Workers-working year round to repair and restore trails, buildings and roads from weather and unfortunately vandalism
Law Officers-enforcing the rules and regulations of parks, they have police duties as well

Some noted Park Rangers-

Galen Glenn-first ranger, guardian of Yosemite in 1866
President Gerald Ford-Park Ranger at Yellowstone
Ranger Smith-from the Yogi Bear Cartoons
Anna Pigeon-fictional park Ranger from author Nevada Barr, my personal favorite

A big Thankyou for all you do!
Happy Thanksgiving too!

Friday, November 15, 2013

End of the Trail

I got my duff out to the bluffs of Perrot State Park for one more hike on Thursday. As of today, Friday, November 15 there is hunting in the park. Maps with details on areas closed to hunting are available at the headquarters.

It was the last trail to do on my list in the park. It's a nice longer hike, there are no special vistas as it winds through the interior of the park. It's accessible from The Perrot Ridge Trail near the headquarters of the park or from the opposite entrance by the Park Shop. This trail doesn't have a hiking name but is referred to as the Cedar Glade Trail set up for cross country skiers. As I passed through I came across signage for skiers naming the different runs. I think I'll have to pass on skiing this trail since I'm not expert.

Now that I've hiked it and liked it, here's  my two cents on what the different hikes have to offer.

Brady's Bluff- by far the most hiked trail. It's spectacular view of the Mississippi River and Trempeauleau Mountain makes it to the top of my list. If you can't make it up the bluff for a photo, buy a postcard for .25 from the Friends of Perrot. There are three ways to the top. East Brady's  by the headquarters is a narrow natural path that winds up past a Goat Prairie giving you a nice view of the Mississippi. West Brady's is an improved trail with 500 some steps through a ferny glen for lots of wild flowers then up the face of Brady's. Make sure to stop and take in the view behind you. The Bluff is also accessed from the Park Shop, this is a longer trail to the top and a great way to connect back to the campground.

Perrot Ridge-a favorite of some, I especially like this for the 360 degree view in spring and fall when the leaves on the trees aren't obstructing the view. A bit longer round trip than Brady's but it offers a lot of variety up to Reed's Peek. A little bit of scrambling on the way up from the headquarters at the very top. Lots of wild flowers on the way back down the trail to Perrot Post entrance.

Reed's Run- is a short lovely walk which can connect you from Perrot Ridge and Brady's Bluff Trails to create a longer hike.

Black Walnut Trail- an easy trail and not too long, there's interesting facts to read along the way, learn  about trees and early life in the area. You also get to see some of the great rock formations of the area.

Bay Trail-hidden behind the campground, it can be a bit buggy in the summer but offers a close up the bay area and then opens up to a lovely prairie that's great for campers that want to do some star gazing in the middle of the night.

Riverview Trail-this runs pretty much the length of the park, offering an intimate view of the bay and popular for birders. Many use this path to complete there hikes or use the road to reconnect to their starting point. Don't forget to include Horseshoe Falls along the way.

Lesser known trails-

Wilburs Trail-easy path from the Park Shop, used as a ski trail, nice and wide, shady and cool in the heat of summer.

Connecting trails, Reed's Run, Deer Me Run,  Broken Ski Run, Tow Rope Hill.

Cedar Glade Trail-the longest most challenging ski trail, a rather easy hike in other seasons.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Swan Song

As falls temperatures drop the final migration is here.

Yes, the proverbial Swan Song, the dramatic appearance of thousands of swans along the Mississippi signaling the end of the season.

My video skills aren't the best but you can hear the calls of the Tundra Swans along the reedy banks of Brownsville, Minnesota. If my zoom was better I'll bet I could see my friend Karen on the Wisconsin side.

Hope you get a chance to see this spectacular spectacle for yourself.

Monday, November 11, 2013

One More Time Around

Canoe launch by Nature Center
In just a day things can change. A crisp cool but clear November Sunday and we decided to canoe Trempealeau Bay. Now it's Monday and the snow has begun to fall. A reminder to always do it today.

Around the bend
It was beautiful, calm waters and we had it all to ourselves.  A couple of hours around the bay, even getting a chance to set foot on Trempealeau mountain.

If you can manage not to get wet it's a glorious way to enjoy the last of the fall colors.

We didn't see much wildlife but that's okay we didn't want to see the hunters either. Yes it's duck season and they do hunt in the bay.

Trempealeau Mountain approach

Setting foot on the Mountain
Remnants from the Summer

Come Friday, November 15 muzzleloaders and archery will start in the park too. Hikers may want to take note of where hunters could be, but remember it's your park too so there are no off limits to where you can hike.