I look out my window this morning watching the snow fall. The first of the season here in my tiny corner of the earth. I can say that with accuracy because my house sets on a corner in the southeast corner of Milwaukee County.
I am remembering a recent trip I made to Door County, Wisconsin. Every time I talk about going there I feel a little skip inside my heart and say, “I get to go to Door County.” It is bliss for my spirit and always feels like coming home.
I began this post a couple of days ago but the flow wasn’t working. It felt rigid. But this morning, I was able to take my mind back to the day and the wholeness I felt being in the magic that is The Door.
Wisconsins Door County peninsula is known for its cherry pies, fruit orchards and fish boils and is home to a plentitude of artists, farmers and restauranteurs. Anyone who visits The Door will tell you of their renewed vigor and tranquil state of mind after even a short visit. I believe it is because of the surrounding encompassing waters, the high population of trees and the height of the bluffs amidst rolling hills and open fields.
On a morning not long ago, I found myself in Peninsula State Park located in Fish Creek on the bay side of the county. It has been in use as a park since 1909 and contains a golf course, theater, 5 mile bike trail, and soon to be finished handicap accessible tower.
It is one of the largest parks in the state of Wisconsin, loaded with trees and settled on and below a bluff that is a part of the Niagara Escarpment. The park has some of the loveliest trails in the county along with its grand views of Green Bay. I read that Green Bay got its name because of the greenish color of the water and I can only wonder if that is a reflection of the trees. I do know that it is a well loved body of water and the sights from Peninsula Park are too glorious to pass without stopping for a long breath.
On this particular hike, I came across the Eagle Terrace on the north end of the park and offers the most access to dreamy views of the bay with the most photo opportunities. There is a scary steep stairway leading down to the terrace but if you hold on to the railings you will be rewarded.
Near the top of the staircase, is a path leading north and down the bluff. The sign at the top warns this is a difficult trail, and it is for most people. I am a seasoned hiker and realized halfway down that I’d have to climb back up to the top. I let go my fear and began the hike. It was one of my favorite hikes of all time. Not simply because it was a fairly difficult hike, but because I found the trail while I am still young and healthy enough to feel confident in my choice. Most of the trail is not difficult, but there are places where I felt I needed something to hold on to while maneuvering through the rock faces. But then after I passed through I looked back and felt strong. And I also saw beauty that I wouldn’t have know I’d missed!
I will note here that this is not a winter nor rainy day trail. Many of the rocks are moss covered and rain or snow would make the trail dangerous. But, I would love to see the area in snow cover.
At the bottom I stood a while to listen to the bay waters gently rolling on to the shore. Then I walked further north along the shoreline, following a deer path left shortly before I got there. I was hoping to get a glimpse of their majestic souls but the path was blocked by a fallen tree so I had to be happy with the knowledge that they were there somewhere, probably watching me.
I’ve been wondering why it is so important for us to see wildlife when we travel to rustic places or even in our back yards. My parents and I spend a lot of time searching the horizons for deer when we visit Door County and when we see even one we rejoice. I think it is that we are trying to put credence to our belief in the existence of life we don’t see often enough. We need to know they are still with us and even a hoof print is joyful.
No deer sighting there and so I back tracked, and made to continue on the shoreline path south toward one of the other trail ways that leads back up the bluff. Unfortunately, the path was very muddy and flooded enough that I felt it would be safer to walk back up the way I came. But if you want, the trail leads south to a way that is easier to ascend and also, you can continue on to where it meets up with the Minnehaha Trail. I didn’t have to add that in, but I love saying Minnehaha. It makes me laugh! Try it, Minnehaha!
And so I began the trek back up the bluff, came across no other hikers, which is good because the trail is thin in many places and there is little room to move aside. I can say that it is a good physical hike both ways, and according to my phones trail app, I burned a lot of calories, but it felt easier to me to climb up than to hike down. Possibly because it is easier to see footholds in the rocks, but I prefer to think that it is from the good energy I received from the forest. The forests give us so much in return for so little.
Once at the top, I took another look out from Eagle Terrace, raised my arms up in with powerful energy and walked a bit more through the flatter portion of the trail though the woods.
I recommend trying this trail at least once in your life time. But if it is too much, at least allow yourself the Eagles eye views from the bluff. On that note, I will leave you with this. After hiking I chose to take the skyline road to work my way through the park. In a spot where there was no shoulder and the shear cliff on one side, I glanced up and saw an eagle soaring just feet above my car. Even with anxiety over the possibility of other vehicles approaching, I had to stop my car for a closer look. Unfortunately, phones take less than dazzling photos of birds in flight, but the eagle was dazzling.
Then is was time to head back home. On the freeway where the world speeds by at 80 miles per hour, I looked to my right and got a brief flash of what could only be called a heard of deer eating a late lunch on a freshly harvested corn field.
Be comforted in knowing they are still out there.
Thank you for reading,