Ferry Bluff State Natural Area Earthcache
In Wisconsin, United States
Size:  (not chosen)
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Cache will be disabled from November 15th through April 1st to protect roosting bald eagles and area will be closed to the public. Cachers will need to be able to hike a somewhat steep grade to the top of Cactus Bluff to complete this cache. Area can be accessed from boat or car via Ferry Bluff Road. Terrain can vary from a 3 to a 5 depending on whether you make your approach by land or sea.
Cache is placed with permission and proper paperwork is filed. Hunting of this cache requires that you only approach from suggested methods and remaining on trails at all times. Do not attempt this cache at night or anytime it is dark….to do so would be extremely dangerous.
The lesson to be learned from your visit is to understand the effects and methods over time that created these sandstone bluffs that you have come here today to enjoy and a little education about the river that created them.
About the area: Location Within the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Sauk County. T9N-R6E, Sections 19, 20, 30. 400 acres. Access From the intersection of Highways 60 and 12 west of Sauk City, go west on Highway 60 4.4 miles then south on Ferry Bluff Road 1.1 miles to a parking area and canoe landing at the end of the road. A trail leads to the top of Cactus Bluff. Legal access by land to the southern unit, known as Hugo's Bluff, is unresolved at this time and is accessible only by watercraft until further notice. The entire northern unit, consisting of Ferry Bluff and Cactus Bluff, is closed from November 15 to April 1 to protect roosting bald eagles. The southern unit is open at all times. Description Ferry Bluff and the adjacent Cactus Bluff tower more than 300 feet above the confluence of Honey Creek and the Wisconsin River. The sandstone bluffs, capped with dolomite harbors undisturbed open cliff vegetation, prairie remnants, and steep wooded slopes of white and red oaks with with basswood, hackberry, elm, hickory, and ironwood. Although the forest on the summit and north-facing slopes is relatively young, the groundlayer is rich, with many ferns on the slopes and a diverse spring flora throughout. Prairie species remain especially on the dry south-facing slopes and include the rare round-stemmed false foxglove (Agalinis gattingeri). The moist shaded cliffs contain a diversity of species including many ferns such as fragile and bulbet fern. Rare animals include Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), and black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta). Ferry Bluff is the site of a former peregrine falcon eyrie and continues to be an important winter roosting site for the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The base of the Ferry Bluff also housed a Civil War era ferryboat landing. Ferry Bluff is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1988.
Geological aspects of the site: Shallow seas covered all of Southern Wisconsin during the Cambrian and Ordovician periods. Sand, gravel and silt washed into the seas and settled to the bottom in layers. Over time, the sand grains were compacted by great weight and cemented by minerals. The sandstone and dolomite layers are up to 800 feet thick in Sauk County, but only about 300 feet are visibly exposed. The present river valley was formed by erosion of the sandstone. Little is known about when this happened because the process of erosion carries the evidence away. Swirling water containing sediments abrades rock surfaces and the eroded materials are carried downstream. In this way, the river cuts through rock exposing more surface area to wind, water runoff, freezing and thawing. These processes widen the river gorge and created the sandstone bluffs you will be standing on at ground zero. Standing at ground zero you will be atop Cactus Bluff and Ferry Bluff is on your left.
Most sources regarding rivers divide river development into three stages: Youthful rivers, Mature rivers and Old rivers. Youthful rivers are usually narrow, with a V-shaped channel, fast moving, and do not have a floodplain. Mature rivers are often still fairly narrow, with a U-shaped channel, have a medium velocity, and their path starts to meander due to erosion with narrow floodplains. Old rivers are normally broad, slow-moving, and they have wide floodplains.
To Log this cache as a find e-mail me answers to the following questions:
1) Decribe in your own words how you feel the bluffs here were created? You may use the information boards at GZ to aid you....
2) Take an elevation reading at ground zero and estimate the depth of the river gorge from where you are standing?
3) Using your GPSr compass estimate what is the general direction of the river flow tward the bluff you are standing on from what general direction does it flow away from GZ ?
4) Observe the distance to the opposite bank directly across from where you are standing. If the river level were to rise two feet explain how that distance would be effected based on your observation of the steepnees of the other bank.
5) Based on your observations from the bluff, explain why you would classify this river is a Youthful river, Mature river or Old river?
While not required it would be appreciated if you add a picture of yourself at GZ… you surely will want to take pictures here regardless…..
All answers to these questions can be found by visiting the posted coordinates….
Congrats to gary/dawn,Toursport,Hockeymonkey12, and DanaCatDog on their Co-FTF
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 9/12/2015 4:17:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time (11:17 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum