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22 hours: Devils Lake and Back

We got up bright and early (too early) before 6am on Saturday morning to head to Devils’ Lake Wisconsin for a day of climbing with E&S.

The forecast was full of gloom, but we decided to take our chances anyway. Turned out, it was mostly gorgeous – we had a few minutes of passing showers a couple times during the day, but it wasn’t enough to wet the rocks. Otherwise, we saw the sun and had a cool breeze playing across the lake.

Climbed a couple crags in the Misery area – super fun. We had the spot to ourselves and there was a wide and flat enough space with trees that S gleefully tied her brand new hammock to.

In the afternoon, we tread our way cautiously across to another crag (Queen’s Face, Cleopatra’s Needle etc). The scrambling through slippery boulders and thick undergrowth interspersed with poison ivy is my least favorite part of the climbs. Ugh. I’ve no idea how Eug can scamper across so agilely, with a heavy pack across his back no less. The three of us are left in his wake as we gingerly slide and cuss our way forward.

After four months of not climbing, I’d say we had a good day out. I followed and cleaned a couple of routes, and finally – after three visits to the Needle – climbed it. It’s one of the most popular routes in the area, and there’s always a line of people waiting to scale the narrow needle-like boulder (it has a wide base with routes on three sides of its face, but gradually tapers off so the top of the rock is only about 4 by 4 feet wide). This time around, we had to wait till dusk, when everyone else was done for the day, before the needle was free.

It was a super fun climb though, well worth the wait, and the view of the shimmering lake in the setting sun was a sight to see.

In the end, we hiked down in the rapidly dimming light (at least not in pitch darkness like last year), accompanied by the twinkling lights of the fireflies.

We certainly lucked out with the weather. Midway through the drive back, the skies opened up. It was one of the worst storms we’d seen, and thank goodness we weren’t caught in it on the rocks. I shudder to think how treacherous it would have been otherwise. But still driving was a nightmare. We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us at times, and once we saw a lightning bolt come crashing vertically down. It was an amazing sight – a few seconds later a ball of fire burst into the night sky. Apparently, the lightning struck a street lamp by the side of the highway. When we drove by it a few minutes later, we could still see the post burning in the rain.

The storm made for slow driving, so it was well past 330am before we, blearily eyed, pulled back into our driveway. A 22 hour adventure.
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