Posts filed under Wisconsin
Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day is a big day here in the states, it is a federal holiday to honor and remember the people who have served in the united states armed forces. Back in Alaska we always went camping or went out for a small adventure, but I haven't really done that in a while so we decided it was time for another trip! A lot of people go camping or hiking during this weekend, or have large family gatherings and BBQ festivities. We took the opportunity to go on a camping trip in the North Woods.
We drove almost 5 hours north (about 279 miles, or 450km) until we arrived to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Don't ask me to pronounce that name because its literally impossible and it sounds very funny when I try to. Memorial day weekend mean that a lot of people are on the road, driving towards their final destination. There were quite a lot of people on the roads during the first few hours but then the traffic decreased significantly and almost disappeared as we got closer and closer to the North Woods.
A lot of people on the road also mean that the campsites might all be full. There are quite a few campgrounds in and around Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. You can book some of these campsites at certain campgrounds, but the one I had looked at you had to book several days in advanced, you literally could not book it online 2 days before?!? which is ridiculous...anyway, there were plenty of first come first serve options, but, as the name entails, first come first serve. The final camping option is dispersed camping, which is allowed in National Forests, as long as you aren't close to anyones property, or close to a real campground. However, we realized that finding dispersed camping in Wisconsin might be a lot harder compared to Montana. Either way, we got a late start and figured, worst case scenario we just sleep in the car.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
We arrived at one of the campgrounds that I have looked at during the drive, and we decided to take a left and go through one of the loops, and voila, right by the lake was one open spot at 5pm on a Saturday! W went on a short mountain bike ride, and I set up the tent!
The temperature this weekend was so high, but that mixed with frequent rain showers made for a very humid climate. While I was setting up the tent I discovered an insect I haven't seen for years, because we don't have them in Alaska (well they are extremely rare), I killed it as best as I could and saved it so I could get a confirmation from W. Well, W came back and I showed him and he said yup, totally, a tick! And then we started going through W who had been biking through bushes on the trail and, we found several more ticks on W, and the coming days we found countless of ticks, I seriously think we removed about 50 or so... We did get a wonderful weekend though, filled with good food and mountain biking!
Have you been camping yet this year?
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?