I have lived in the area nearly thirty years and Sunday I finally got to the top of Barn Bluff. Dennis and I were joined by two young and enthusiastic photographers for a morning assault at the bluff and a few other areas of photographic interest around Red Wing.
We began our day at the Blue Moon coffee shop where a single waitperson attempted to fulfill our caffeine needs as well as the needs of a dozen or so early morning risers on her own. Lily’s, wisely, doesn’t open until 10 on Sundays. We were in town at 8. From downtown we headed out to Bay Point Park and Marina to check the early morning river mist. As Dennis explained, the most common photographs taken in Red Wing often include shots of the boat houses at Bay Point.
I liked the ducks.
From Bay Point we headed down to the park on the other side of the bluff, Colvill Park. More river shots, a parked barge on the river, the local garden club flower beds and just about anything else that looked interesting. The shutters were fluttering at the park. I spent most of my time at the flower beds. But I did get one good shot of the river and barge.
The monarchs got most of the attention in the flower gardens.
It was mid morning before we got to the base of Barn Bluff, a curbless stretch of city street near the old NSP steam plant. The steam from the plant on a winter’s day can be seen from highway 35 in Wisconsin, about half way down Bay City Hill. The Izaac Walton Park is next to the Steam Plant and just down the road is the Water Treatment plant. It is not the best area of Red Wing, unless you want to climb the bluffs.
The original trail up to the bluff top consisted of cement steps from main street up the north side of the bluff. When the new highway 63 bridge across the Mississippi was built, most of the stairs were dismantled and used on the south end of the bluff, and through out the park.
After checking the map which listed interesting things like old quarries, tunnel and north view, we decided to take the north trail. Actually I decided, and my companions graciously did not remind me of it.
The north trail is narrow, shaded, wet, slippery, buggy and long. It is scary in spots, especially the last half where the trail is the verge of the cliff and all that is between you and a long slide down the side is the tread on your shoes. It was an interesting walk. If you wish to rock climb, the north trail does lead to the old quarry site where we found many sets of rock climbers going up the side of the cliff. The path to the quarry is not as scary as the path past the quarry. We never did find that tunnel.
We did get to the north side of the bluff and saw the river and Red Wing spread out below us. It is an impressive view. The men stayed at the lookout while I went up the prairie for some candid shots.
From Right to left: Travis Johnson, Eric Steele and Dennis Newton.
We found walking up the bluff hot, tiring,and appetite building. The walk down, along the wider, drier, sunnier south side of the bluff was faster. Lunch was at Lilys Cafe. Dessert was at the Smiling Pelican Bakery in Maiden Rock. Passion Fruit Pie was consumed in the garden before we moved on to Pine Creek and the American Legion Grounds for more photographing.
I convinced Eric to do some wading in the spring fed Pine Creek. I also got my feet wet, on purpose, trying to get the best angle to shoot the creeks path.
The DNR and Nature Conservancy now own the creek from the Legion Picnic Grounds almost all the way to the river. They are busy restoring the creek banks and removing some of the brush trees from what once was cattle pasture. The spring at the side of the road is still there in its own little green grotto. I plan to go back for more photographs in the near future.
But it was late in the afternoon so we headed down to Stockholm and along the lake to Pepin and finally ended up in our back yard. The younger members of the expedition continued to photograph in the yard while Dennis and I relaxed on the deck. Eric and Travis left before sunset with plans to stop back in Red Wing and get photographs of the river at sunset. Their photographs of the day are showing up on their face book pages. I will be posting a few of Dennis’ photographs (with his permission) on my page as well.
It was interesting to watch and see how other people view their surrounding, what they find interesting enough to photograph. Eric and Travis’ photographs of our yard were surprising. They found things to photograph that I take for granted, seeing them every day. It was good to take a fresh look at the commonplace. And I finally got to the top of Barn Bluff. It was another excellent adventure.