900 feet of bliss

If you’ve been with me on this photographic journey for a while, you know my deep abiding love of cedar trees and cedar swamps. There is just something so peaceful about being under those branches with the ferns and moss. So when I heard that the Ice Age Trail Alliance and a cohort of volunteers recently completed a nearly 900-foot boardwalk through one, you couldn’t keep me away. It’s called the White Cedar Segment and it is a wonder –

A frosty reception

And with snow!

Ok, so it’s just a little bit of snow, but it was mid-October and October snow is special. It never amounts to much so it doesn’t last, but oh, it lends so much dimension and depth to landscape photography. That’s why I went down to explore it when I did. Alas there wasn’t as much snow on the ground that far south of me, but at least it was still there when I arrived. Here’s the trail leading in to the boardwalk –

Scrim

It’s a nice addition to the IAT, albeit a short one, because it comes in the middle of a long road-walk, oh what a relief it must be.

Twists and turns aside

One of the best things is that it hardly runs straight at all. Mostly it bends and twists and there are a few wide spots where you can stop and take it all in. One is large enough to hold a small group. Plus there are rails so if you’re in a chair that can get through that little bit of trail, you can roll along comfortably without fear of going off the edge.

Closing in

Another thing that is a wonder to experience is the variation in canopy. It is dense in some places, sparse and open in others. You can see that by the snowfall here and that you go from dark to light and back again every few yards.

It wasn’t all about that marvelous walkway though. Just look what’s down there!

Comes a calling

I haven’t done any fern photography in a while, but the height of the boardwalk gave me some great perspective to shoot basically straight down to the forest floor. I was tempted to go down and do some cleaning up, but I didn’t even though it would have been easy and the whole place was still basically trampled by the work crew that built the platform. What I think is Ostrich fern was in this beautiful in-between state; not quite all yellow and dried, but not fresh either –

Art walk

Vibrant to the end

And of course there were some smaller ones that I don’t know the name for and they were much paler and more delicate –

Tiny standout

But yeah, the boardwalk was pretty commanding. Even on the return trip I found I had to stop a lot.

The joy of a cedar swamp

Of course I found some mushrooms. You thought I wouldn’t? I bet there are tons here in late summer, but basically polypores were all that was on display –

Sibling rivalry

These are nearly in someone’s backyard. When you come off the boardwalk you can see a house and then a little more trail until you’re back on a road walk for a while if you’re through hiking. I wasn’t so I explored a couple of the Dispersed Camping Areas that are probably another relief on the IAT. There’s a sign in book in a nice little weather-proof stand that I happily contributed to before turning around and heading back –

On again, off again

And more enchanting boardwalk. By now the snow was really melting and it was falling all over, getting me and my camera pretty wet. But it was good and I will definitely be back.

Rice Lake Cedar walk

I did make some effort to find compositions that didn’t involve the boardwalk, but it was much harder. Here are two that I think work –

Under wraps

And a little detail with that stump –

Collateral damage

It wasn’t wildflower season, obviously, but again this starflower caught my attention. They are lovely early spring blossoms, but one that I don’t photograph often because of the insect onslaught. Still, I should try to get here again from time to time. Rice Lake is right at the trailhead and I could walk in the woods until I can’t take it anymore and then put the kayak in the water for some relief. It’s a tiny lake – only about 50 acres – but undeveloped and I bet it’s a nice place to paddle.

So how am I doing for creating alternative fall photos? That was another reason I decided to visit with a little snow on the ground, even though it almost melted completely by the time I was done. I also thought that if I could work the canopy well, which I couldn’t and didn’t, it would expand the story by including these little bits of the branches that get shed every year. I call them sprigs since they’re not really needles. Now that I’ve really noticed them I think I can work with them more in future.

Fallen leaves lie undisturbed

What a little gem of a trail. I can’t get over its serenity and specialness as an ecosystem. Can you imagine the birds and the frogs that must flourish here in summer? The dragonflies and the flowers? The mushrooms!? Oh I think I’ll be back.

Fallen in love

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4 thoughts on “900 feet of bliss

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  1. Yes, there is something special about snow in October. It came once as a birthday present when I was a kid after several dark, dark days. These are lovely. I enjoyed my walk! Thank you!

  2. Ah, snow falling on cedars…. I can never resist boardwalks either, and the construction on that one is impressive. A bonus is the dusting of snow, which makes everything more magical. I especially love the last photo.

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