After a short stop at the Grant River Recreation Area, I continued meandering north on the Great River Road, mostly on Hwy 133, until I reached Governor Nelson Dewey State Park. I could find only a few short trails on top of the bluffs here, which I hiked quickly. Then I found a picnic table and made breakfast, consisting of French press coffee, fried eggs and toast, all prepared on my little Coleman backpack stove.
I brewed the coffee with home roasted Brazilian from Thursday morning. I was lazy and ground for french press before I left. Coarsely ground coffee stales more slowly than finely ground coffee, due to differing amounts of oxidation (less surface area exposed for coarse). This cup tasted particularly good in the crisp morning air and brisk wind on top of the bluff.
My intended destination was Perot State Park north of La Crosse, but I never got there. Continuing on the Great River Road, I found myself at the entrance of Wyalusing State Park, just south of Prairie du Chien, WI. I’m not sure if I ever visited this park before, but I immediately fell in love with an available campsite on top of the bluff. When I found out that there were more than ten miles in hiking trails also, I booked the campsite for two nights.
Wyalusing is a historically important park Below these bluffs, you can see where the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi River. On May 17, 1673, Father Jacques Marquette’s expedition left St. Ignace, Michigan at the northeast tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The men followed close to Lake Michigan’s shoreline into Green Bay and then entered the Fox river, which empties into the Wisconsin River near Portage, Wisconsin. They continued to canoe to the place below, where the train now crosses. On June 17, 1673, Father Marquette wrote:
“After 40 leagues…we happily paddled into the Mississippi with a joy I am unable to make known.”
Today, these trains run frequently, all day and all night. On of the advantages that my Ford Escape has over a tent is soundproofing. I slept without any interruption both nights of my stay. I like the sound of trains, just not when I’m trying to sleep.
These bluffs also mark the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. A memorial plaque states:
“Dedicated to the last passenger pigeon shot at Babcock, September 1899. This species became extinct through the avarice and thoughtlessness of man.”
That afternoon and evening, I read the latest C.J. Box novel from my chair at the top of the bluff. I dined on ravioli with butternut squash, and French bread with goat cheese, washed down with a tin cup or two of Rodney Strong’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The sunset was amazing.