It’s been a while since you heard from me, eh? It’s not because I haven’t done anything interesting, it’s because I haven’t had time to sit around on the
computer and tell you about it! It’s time to start getting caught up, though, because the stories are piling up! What better place to start than this past weekend, which included a lot more “adventures” than I expected…
It seemed like a simple weekend excursion – meet a friend, find a campsite, enjoy nature. Of course, I always have to complicate things. See, last time I was down on the Lakewood-Laona District of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, I meandered my way home, with an intermediate destination of a cool secluded lake surrounded by a bog full of great plants. Along the way, I happened upon a campsite, investigated, and found that it was lovely and rarely used. So naturally, I suggested that we go there. Unfortunately, all I could remember was that it was on the North Branch of the Oconto River, on public land near private land, somewhere between Mountain and Townsend, east of the highway (it doesn’t narrow down that 40-square-mile area very much). Even less fortunately (for him), my friend got there before I did, and he dutifully started looking for it. By the time I got there, he’d traveled half of the country roads in that vicinity and had been compelled to break into that evening’s beverage-based entertainment in mid-afternoon. Which is to say that he was mildly frustrated. We checked out a few more spots, but with no luck, and ultimately we found a decent place to pitch our tent off of a rarely-used forest road, behind a berm so that no bear-tracking trucks would come roaring out of the woods and run us down in the early morninghours. Adventure #1 down.
Despite a little drizzle, the night was relaxing and enjoyable, we heard the sounds of nature around us and not trucks and ATV’s. After a lazy morning involving some reading, bike riding on forest trails, and dog-walking, we went to really start the day. At which point I discovered that I had locked my keys in my car. This would be Adventure #2. We tried for a while to break in to it, but apparently all of the curves in the metal and tight weatherproofing that has kept my car dry (and theft-free) for twelve years was not corruptible with sticks and screwdrivers. Finally, opting not to damage my car further, I decided that we should drive into town (in the friend’s car) and call a lockout service. So we did, and even got an ice cream cone (and fried green beans!) while waiting for the mechanic to show up. The kid who got roped into working lock-outs on Sunday morning met us at the gas station in Lakewood, and followed us back to the car, probably wondering where exactly we were taking him, as we got over a mile down this heavily-rutted road. However, he got me into my car in five minutes, and we finished packing up and went to spend what was left of our day in pursuit of nature in the Northwoods.
We went west of Lakewood a few miles, to the Cathedral Pines, a stand of never-logged pines that were “saved from the axe” by a lumber baron’s wife who, according to legend (and the informative sign at the site), plead with him to save the area where she took her children to learn their bible verses. The trees are amazingly tall there, though their bases aren’t as wide as some others in the area. We hiked around a bit through some old growth forest in the area, and checked out a nearby heron rookery. The Great Blue Herons were all gone for the year, their young having fledged, but we found traces of their presence in the woods. We ambled around for a couple hours, enjoying the woods and exploring. Adventure #3 was enjoyable, if shorter than originally intended! The time came for us to part ways, though, and my friend headed home, while I went off to find another campsite for the night (hooray for a Monday off!).