Fonferek’s Glen

A park bench told me the story of Fonferek’s Glen, as much as its age-old dolomite cliffs, charming waterfall and whimsical name.

Dedicated to a young woman named Julia, the bench held two bunches of dying flowers when I saw it Monday afternoon. They might have been left as a tribute to her, a baker who loved Bob Seger, the Beatles, ginger tea, scones and making elaborate birthday cakes, according to her obituary. I also enjoy all of those things, which is probably why I found them so endearing. Sadly, Julia Lee Shimon died suddenly in 2015 at the age of 20.

Those flowers also might have been left in remembrance of April Janssen, who died in 2013 after falling from the Fonferek Glen cliff as she tried to help a wounded 18-year old man, who had also fallen. The young man survived but their story is a stark reminder that nature’s tranquility can mask its danger.

Fonferek’s Glen is a lovely, peaceful place and the perfect spot for a bench dedicated to the memory of a sweet young girl. But, especially the day I ever-so-carefully made my way around the waterfall, it is also dangerous. It occurred to me as I arrived and found myself all alone in the park, that I should text someone to let them know where I was.

Icy paths led me to a frozen waterfall that drops 30 feet and changes colors as the sunlight moves through it. The land, which Brown County purchased from the Fonferek family in 1991, has grown into a natural conservancy with native trees and prairie.

Some aspects of that land have been there for a millennium, others grow fresh every year. I think that combination of eternity and fragility represents humanity so well. We’re only here for a season, but our soul and our legacy lives on.

There are plenty of warning signs throughout the park.

The area used to be a family farm.

Someone left these flowers on a bench dedicated to Julia Lee Shimon, and I wondered if they were in tribute to her or to a hiker who died after trying to help another wounded hiker. Either way, the flowers left a poignant reminder of love and loss.
The frozen waterfalls changed colors as the sun moved through them.
I’m looking forward to going back in the summer with some hiking friends of mine. I can imagine how beautiful this spot looks with the water running through it.
This is the view from that bench.
Later, I was glad to see someone else show up to give the falls some perspective and me a little company.

6 thoughts on “Fonferek’s Glen

    1. I think it will be an even cooler and safer place to explore in the summer or at least when the ice melts. Thanks for reading!

  1. An hour or two here with Cathy, Isabel, and Sam one gorgeous, sunny Sunday in June was my Father’s Day gift a few years ago! We LOVED it! 🙂
    P.S. If the timing works for you, The Creamery, a fantastic little breakfast/ brunch place is just a short drive away (just a few miles south of the Green Bay Costco). We enjoyed a delicious Father’s Day Sunday brunch there after our visit to Fonferek’s Glen.

    1. That sounds like a perfect Father’s Day! I will definitely check out the Creamery. Thanks Mike!

  2. This is where my ex passed away 9 months after we separated..April janssen. She tried saving a young boys life after he had fallen tryin to save his own hat. April was amd amazing woman. There is actually a wooden plack..posted and nailed into a tree there. If you look for it close to where she fell from you will see it. What has eaten me over the years, is that the young boy she tried saving…never showed up or came to her funeral. None of his family period…even though he survived. Him nor his family had the decency to show up. We were separated for 9 months and i spent 2 days on a Greyhound bus to show up because i loved her, but they are such pos..could not show or even say thank you or send a single flower or an E-Card. April, i love you and will always. I miss you and the kids more than you’ll ever know. I will always carry our life and story forever. You should have outlived us all. You saved lives in your job literally, and you passed away trying to save a boy who didnt even have the decency to show up to your funeral to say thank you for risking your life for his. No thank you for anything. I will see you in heaven one day love. Until my time comes, i love you. I always have, i will forever. MAY YOU ALL NEVER LET GO OF YOUR LOVED ONES.LIFE IS SO SHORT AND DEATH IS SO UNEXPECTED. PLEASE LIVE ONE ANOTHER BECAUSE TOMORROW IS NEVER PROMISED!!!💯💯💯💯

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