Sue’s Birthday – Devil’s Lake

Madison has been my home for 10 years now. I jump at every opportunity to host friends and family here. So when my mother-in-law called and said she wanted to come to Madison, hike Devil’s Lake, and stay the weekend with us, I was shuffling through ideas for entertainment. Here’s what we came up with.

The team for the weekend was three couples: the hosts, the honoree (Sue and Steve), and her brother and his wife (Steve and Dawn). They arrived Saturday at 11:00. Katie cooked up some chili, I made a few sandwiches, and we had lunch. We jumped in the car with yours truly behind the wheel. We decided to fit all six into the 5-passenger vehicle. I took the picture (l. to r.) Steve, Katie, Sue, Steve’s hand, Dawn.

The drive was beautiful, as highway 12 had trees turning a few shades of orange, yellow and a couple reds. What excited me about this trip was that Katie and I were the only ones how had been to Devil’s Lake before – Steve and Sue, Steve and Dawn were Newbies! As Ski Hi Road winds around to the south shore, the drive through the woods was building anticipation. Finally we could see water, and around the next bend was the Lake. I can’t take any credit for its beauty, but as the tour guide I was sure proud of this park.

I put on my pack – what would a hike/climb be without my pack?!? Fully stocked with water, protein bars, and maps, I lead us to the trailhead. I have to admit, there was concern (from my wife) as to the rigorous nature of what this team was about to attempt. Although nervous about the process, I knew the final destination would be achieved and appreciated by all involved.

How can I describe the climb? It was a little tough because the majority of our group didn’t know what to expect. The nice thing about this climb is that it gets better and better as you get higher and higher. Soon you clear the tree line. Now you can get a decent look at the lake. Then the trail has more switchbacks and random trees that add a hiking element to the climb. At this point there’s more plateaus where we stopped and noticed our elevation and scenic vantage points as the lake got bigger and bigger. Here’s some pictures of the climb.

We made our way down the back side of the bluff, which is more gradual and scenic. To our delight, we came upon multiple groups of rock climbers. Coming from the top, we saw all their climbs set-up – straps, carabiners, and cams. We hiked around and saw them climbing from their base camp. There must have been 80 climbers there.

When we made it to the bottom, I was happy to see that there was a sense of accomplishment in the group. No one was hurt, no one was too tired, but all of us felt victory on this beautiful last day of September.

Back at the house, we were joined by Matt and Amanda for dinner. The special meal for the night was cooked by Sue’s brother, who enjoys gourmet cooking as a hobby. We had beef rib stew with Caesar salad with homemade dressing that was like no other. Dinner was followed up with a hysterical game of Mad Gab. In the morning we went to Blackhawk, again a Newbie experience for both visiting couples. And we ended Sue’s birthday weekend with brunch at the Great Dane. I could write so much more about this meal but it’s still sitting heavy in my gut so I’ll save the details.

It was a wonderful weekend to celebrate mom’s birthday. Devil’s Lake is more beautiful now that any other time of year. So if you’ve been to this blog before, you’re hearing this again – get to Devil’s Lake and see God’s beautiful creation.

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