I made a quick trip to Governor Dodge State Park, about an hour from Madison, with the Hoofer Mountaineering Club for some bouldering on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon. We started at the Backbone, a beautiful wall with dozens of problems ranging in difficulty from V0 to V8. To end the day, we went to the Godfather Boulder, which is probably the most famous rock in the park. It's tall, overhung, and has problems with names like Corleone's Corner and Sleeping with the Fishes. This was a fun day to get outside while the weather was still warm.
Recently I went with on a trip with a group of nine to the Door Peninsula in eastern Wisconsin. After driving to the very end of the land (the tip of your thumb if you're making the Wisconsin map with your hand), we drove onto a ferry to cross the open waters of Lake Michigan to Washington Island. This is a popular tourism destination full of little restaurants, shops and importantly, roads. We drove across the island, parked the car and carried our backpacks aboard another ferry. This ferry took us to remote Rock Island, where no cars are allowed.
The first thing we saw on Rock Island was the Viking Boathouse, which contained an entire table setting of beautiful, unique furniture carvings by Hallor Einarsson of Iceland. Each of the carvings on the chairs describes an ancient Nordic myth. The boathouse itself was constructed as a private vacation residence for Chester Hjortur Thordason. The island was converted to a state park several years after his death.
Our group had reserved a few of the backpacker campsites, so we carried our camping gear for about a mile along a lush green trail. Our campsites were at the edge of the forest, next to the ocean-like shore of Lake Michigan. We spent the next day exploring the small island, whose most popular landmark other than the boathouse is Wisconsin's oldest lighthouse. Our time on Rock Island was extremely relaxing, both walking through the quiet forests and being lulled into a peaceful sleep by the continuous lapping waves of the lake.
On the way home, we stopped at Nelsen's Hall Bitter's Pub on Washington Island. The bar was opened in 1899 and during prohibition, owner Tom Nelsen got a pharmacist's license so he could sell a stomach tonic called Angustora Aromatic Bitters. He drank a pint of the 90-proof tonic daily and credited his longevity to it. Because Nelsen's remained open during prohibition, it is the longest continually operated tavern in Wisconsin.
My stomach convulsed from the medicinal quality of my bitters shot, so I could understand why a prohibition-era judge ruled that there was no way anyone would drink such a thing for recreational purposes. At least now I'm a lifelong member of the bitters club.
By the time we finally fixed the flat tire after our Crestone Needle climb (see the video from my previous entry), the afternoon rain was upon us. Even as we drove into the valley, we could see that the storm wouldn't let up, so there would be nowhere we could reasonably expect to climb in southern Colorado. Instead, we made a brief stop in Denver to visit some of Kim's friends, then set out for an overnight drive toward Wisconsin.
We got to northeastern Iowa early in the morning and were only a few hours from home, so we decided to do some climbing at Pictured Rocks County Park in Monticello. None of us had been there, and it was refreshing to see a lush green forest amid the Iowan cornfields. Kim got in her first sport lead, Gokul climbed barefoot, and I struggled my way through a tough overhanging route. All in all, it was a fun day and I was glad to have gotten just a bit more climbing in on our long weekend trip.
Over Labor Day weekend, Kim, Gokul and I took a road trip to Colorado to climb the Crestone Needle. This mountain was featured in Fifty Classic Climbs on North America by Steve Roper and Allen Steck. We climbed the Ellingwood Ledges route, which contains several grassy ledges interspersed with rock scrambles and a few roped pitches near the summit. The climb went amazingly smooth, with our biggest problem happening once we got back to the car.
Rather than try to capture the whole trip in words, I have put together this video:
And here are my photos from the climb:
Crestone Needle Photos