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Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin. May 2017

False Spring

    A few months ago we had unseasonable warm weather, well it had been warmer than normal, and we decided to visit Devils Lake State Park. I was there this past summer, on a super hot day, so going back there in February was very different. Devils Lake State park is about an hour away from Madison, just north of Madison, which is probably also one of the reasons that so many people visit the park in the summertime. Of course fewer people visit this park, or rather any park, in the wintertime. As the name entails, this park surrounds a large lake and there are beautiful bluffs on either side of the lake. You can walk around the whole lake or just do a shorter hike on either side. In the summertime you can swim in this beautiful lake, that is also one of the reasons why so many people come here in the summertime. The water is so clean, compared to how both Mendota and Monona gets in the summertime.


-our feet sank down into the wet snow

as we started walking on the Grotto trails

    We decided to pick the route that would lead towards the Balanced Rock, which is a popular destination. Our feet sank down into the wet snow, as we started walking on the Grotto trails, not too deep though, just enough, enough to make an indent and enough to keep you dry. We continued walking and eventually cut across towards the cliff, and the rocks, to continue uphill. Now we had to use our hands from time to time, because part of this trail was very icy, icy from the warm weather that had melted all the snow. I was thinking to myself that maybe we should have brought crampons, or something alike, but we continued. Part of the trail consisted of boulders (talus slopes), and other parts were nice steps, well, nice ice covered steps and the higher we climbed the greater the view. As we reached the end of the steep parts I was wondering how we were going to get down, because it's easier to go up, compared to down when it's pretty icy. 

    We continued on top of the ridge, through the grotto and stone formations, continuing on the trail that eventually took us through the hardwood forest. 

    One of my personal goals for this hike was to take some pictures of the balanced rock. As we approached the trail that was suppose to take us down to the balanced rock, and then continue down towards the start of the trail, we saw frozen water, ice. We stood there for a while, looking down towards the boulders of different sizes and the mixture with hard ice and snow on top of them. We were trying to come up with the best option, should we or shouldn't we? I knew that if we decided to get down this first set of rocks, it would be impossible to get back up with all the ice covering the steps, and I had no clue how the trail was farther down. But we went for it. 

    Part of this path was very icy, and we actually slid down on our bums for parts of it, since that seemed safer than to try to walk on all the ice. These talus slopes are so cool, lots of large boulders to climb on. By the time we got back down to the parking lot it was almost pitch black. 

    I guess Wisconsin isn't that bad after all :) It is definitely growing on me. All of these beautiful places you can go to, fairly easy! Do you have a favorite place close to where you live?

My Summer Bucket List and my Summer Plans

Backpacking in Yellowstone National Park

Summer plans

    A couple of other bloggers, Swedish bloggers (Livet från den ljusa sidan, Fantasiresor, Äntligen Vilse, and probably a few others), have written about their summer plans this summer, and I figured that I could share some of my plans too. At the end of this list of my summer plans you will also find my summer bucket list, because there are a few things that I really should try to do, or do more of this summer! 

Where are you going to spend your summer?

    This summer is turning out to be pretty eventful, even though I did not have high hopes about this a few weeks ago. It turns out that I will travel to Puerto Rico on Thursday, I booked the ticket not long ago which feels a bit crazy. It's not going to be a vacation though, so not really running around on the beach, not that that is my style anyways, but it will be about eight days full of fieldwork, collecting soil samples all over the island, and also measuring tree diameter and looking at other ecological parameters.

    In July, I am going to go to Yellowstone, yay, because I love that area. We are also going to go to the Tetons. Again, this is not a vacation trip. I am volunteering for W and his field crew, so we will do fieldwork during the 10 days that I will spend there. We are going to measure the amount of downed wood in burned areas, but convert it to amount of carbon, and also count the amount of seedlings. I will fly in to Jackson, Wyoming and then fly out from Bozeman, Montana (MT), and hopefully get one or two days with my mother in law and her sister if those stars align. 

    In August my dad will finally get to come and visit me in Madison, Wisconsin (WI). But I am super sad that my mom is now dead, and that she will not be with us on this trip we planned for a while :(  We are going to drive from Madison, WI to Bozeman, MT, because W and I are going to have our wedding celebration around there. We will travel to Yellowstone again, I know but I love Yellowstone, do some hikes around Bozeman and then have our wedding celebrations somewhere in the mountains :) After that we are driving back to Madison, and we are going to attend another wedding in the woods of Wisconsin, sort of like a summer camp wedding. After that, we will travel to Chicago, and then my dad will fly home to Sweden again. 

    In between all these trips I am going to be here in Madison, WI, because I just started working full time instead of 50%, and I extended my contract so I will now work here for another year, yay! Although, with this comes the disciplin of actually also finishing up my dissertation...

How long will your vacation be?

    Well, my vacation will be around a month! Which feels terrifying, somehow, but I will of course not be completely on vacation, because remember that dissertation that should be done?

Would you like to travel somewhere else, other than what you have planned so far?

    YES, I would! Of course, to no ones surprise I would love to go to Alaska too....but yeah we just went there, so that would be a little too much and I would honestly not have enough vacation (or money) to be able to do that.


What will your Midsummer be like?

    Oh, I don't know, I am really bad at celebrating midsummer. We did celebrate a few times in Alaska though.

Midsummer in the mountains

    One of my favorite memories of midsummer, or the actual longest day, was a few years ago when I went hiking in the mountains, in Alaska, and it was so beautiful and magical, but it wasn't really a real Swedish midsummer.

    I have bought matjessill though, and I have snaps in the freezer. I will maybe try to make some pickled herring too! There is a Scandinavian group here in Madison that has a yearly midsummer party, we went there last year and I think we will try to go there again, unless we go camping somewhere :)


What does your best summer days look like?

    Oh my best summer days, would probably be hiking somewhere where I can get a view, sitting around a bonfire with friends who play music, and talk through the night under the midnight sun. 

How do you approach a rainy day?

    Well, I grab my rain jacket and my rain pants too if I have to. And that is about it. There are no bad weathers just bad clothing, right? No, not always, of course here in Madison we can get really really bad downpours, and lightning, you better stay inside then, there is no use going somewhere if you are going to get that wet. In Alaska if it was a fieldwork day, it was a fieldwork day, and no weather could change that, and that will  most likely be the case when we are doing fieldwork this summer too... 

How will this summer be different from last summer?

    This summer will be a lot different! Last year I moved away from the cabin in the woods, and we drove all the way here, all the 4200 miles or so...and then W left for fieldwork and I tried to get a job, it felt like forever, but I did. Before I actually managed to get a job I was pretty sad and lonely, because I had left one of the most beautiful places on earth. But I survived and here I am today! I had a lot of free time on my hands so I walked/biked around a lot in Madison. This summer I will not be so lonely, and it seems like it will be pretty busy.

Who are you planning on spending your vacation with?

    Family! My dad is coming, how awesome is that, and W's family, and also all of our friends that are coming from far away places to MT in August. We are stoked!

Do you have any trip planned after the summer?

    Hmm....well, maybe Alaska, we will see how that goes...time will tell.

Summer Bucket List

    I do have some things I would like to do this summer, but I am not sure I will have time, but here it is, my summer bucket list for 2017

  • I want to learn how to sail, or at least get on on the water with a sailboat...

  • I want to learn to fly fish, and then I want to go fly fishing here in WI, and maybe also in MT when we are there.

  • I want to go camping and hiking, well backpacking a lot, I am not sure we will have time for that though, not any long trips.

  • I want to get into road biking, which would require me getting a road bike somehow

  • I want to get into mountain biking, which I have already started so I guess I am half way there!

  • I want to start running long distances, and more trail running again....which might be a bit tricky because it is so hot here!

    I think that is all I have on my bucket list for now, maybe I'll add more to it later on :) What are your plans this summer, and do you have a summer bucket list?