Knocking on Devils Doorway

Heat Management

I wake Bag Lady up around 5:30am so I can get an early start today. We discussed this last night since it’s supposed to be in the 90’s today. I have to get the road walk section done before it gets too hot. We skip the coffee, get dressed and are on our way.

Some of the road sections are nicely shaded and pleasant but towards the end it’s more open and it’s already getting miserable. I meet Bag Lady at the parking lot and pitch the idea of having her drive me up to the next trailhead and walk back to this one. It would save me about 400 feet of climbing. She happily agrees and off we go!

Going from the exposed road to the woodsy trail is a huge difference in temperature. I’m so relieved. It only gets uncomfortable again when I get close to the trailhead.

The trail itself is pretty slick from the recent rains and I have to watch my footing. I slip a few times but catch myself and don’t fall. The trail runner who passed me and comes back around again isn’t so lucky. He tells me to watch out for those slick roots, I ask if he fell and he says yes. Ouch!

We planned an early lunch break at the parking lot but there is no shade and it’s unbearable in the sun. Mmm… maybe we should go to Merrimac for ice cream? I had read that there was a concession stand at the ferry terminal and it’s only a few miles from here. Let’s goooooo!!!

We don’t quite figure out how to drive to it so we park the car on the other side in the shade and walk over. We later figure out what looked like a one way to us is actually a two way. Ah.

The ice cream is good. Bag Lady changes her mind from a kid size portion to small and then can’t finish it. Ha, more for me! This healthier eating I’m supposed to be doing isn’t happening anytime soon. Oh well, I have been eating more fruit.

We enjoy watching the ferry and the gaggle of little kids eating ice cream. The breeze and shade are lovely. 

It’s a sad moment when I have to pack my full pack up again and say goodbye to Bag Lady. These few days have gone by so fast! It’s great to spend time with a kindred spirit.

I head back out on the trail and she heads back out on the road. I have 3.5 miles to go to Devil’s Lake and the last mile is pretty brutal. Walking through a hot campground makes me appreciate the coolness of a culvert.

It’s is incredibly busy and I realize I haven’t seen this many people in swim wear in a very long time. I go the opposite way and put my sun shirt on. I got too much sun yesterday morning and certainly don’t want to do more damage.

I also decide to have some actual food and buy a hot dog at the concession. It’s cool and breezy inside and I hang out for a while, cooling off, doing some planning, charging my phone.

I’m still a bit too warm when I leave and head for the beach. There is a selfie station so I take the obligatory selfie. Me in a sun shirt with backpack with many others wearing hardly anything in the background. I don’t quite fit in.

At the very edge of the beach I drop my pack and head for the water. It feels great! I keep my shirt on so it gets wet and will be nice and cool when I climb up on the trail.

The climb is all large rock steps pretty much straight up. I go slow because I don’t want to overheat and soon I’m rewarded with great views over the lake and surrounded cliffs. It’s breezy and shady unless you stand on the overlooks. I try to get some fun photos but my face is beet red and sweaty.

The trail stays up high for awhile and it’s really lovely. Going down it gets warmer again and the short stretch to the south side of the lake is gross. But soon I’m on a shady sidewalk going to a boardwalk and the south side beach. It’s much less busy here than the north side. I reward myself with a cold soda and sit at a shady picnic table. It’s still warm and I douse my head with water. I try to find a cooler spot and eventually take a break in the forest at the bottom of the east bluff trail. I sit on a large cold boulder in the shady woods and love it. I can still hear the screaming from the beach tourists but at least it’s somewhat tempered now. And it’s cool.

I decide to wait til around 7pm and start up the east bluff trail. I have lots of energy left and hope it’s cool enough to climb up again. This one goes even steeper up than the west bluff trail and is more open. Trail builders have made steps in the rock slide and it’s quite impressive. I have to take a few breaks to prevent overheating but eventually make it up there. It’s breezy and there are some neat views. The coolest part is the Devil’s doorway. It’s on a side trail and well worth the trip. Cool rock formations with a gap in between, with cliffs and ledges nearby. You can still see the lake down below as well. I love it!

I get turned around a bit at a next side trail. I thought I was following the main trail but after some potholes it kept going down. That didn’t feel right. I check my app and see that I’m too far down. Sigh. Back up I go and I still think the signage is confusing.

I continue on until I find a suitable tent site. It’s breezy and it cools off some. I’m near the cliff side and see the super bright moon as I’m typing this. What a cool place!

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