On our 2017 trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) our family entered the BWCA at Entry Point #48, Meeds Lake. We spent 8 nights camped on Meeds, Omega, Gaskin and Vista Lakes before exiting at Entry Point #47, Lizz Lake. We stuck our feet into mud holes and slipped and fell on slick rocks and roots. We paddled against 30 mph gusts, sunned ourselves on slabs of bedrock, swam in pristine waters, and marveled at the wonders of nature. We grew closer to one another as we worked as a team to travel, set camp, and overcome the challenges of life away from modern conveniences.
On a cool foggy morning, I set off on the Merton Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT). From Centennial Park in Hartland, I hiked east on County Road K, then headed north on Dorn Road. The approximately 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of road walk along the 5.3 mile (8.5 km) Merton Segment contains areas with tight shoulders and traffic that moves at a pretty good clip, making the road walking portion of this hike less than pleasant. If you do decide to hike this, wear bright colors and take extra care.
With the canoe tripping and summer camping trips behind us, I dusted off my hiking poles and headed to the Hartland Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT). I parked mid-segment at Nixon Park in Hartland, Wisconsin and headed south. I followed the IAT's yellow blazes south along Maple Avenue (Highway E), and then followed the IAT into the Hartland Ice Age Marsh. The chill in the air felt good. Golds and reds painted a leaf here, another there. Berries replaced flowers. A flock of geese passed overhead.
I love everything about canoe tripping, even the preparations. Finding lightweight foods safe to carry without refrigeration that fit the blue barrel and satisfy the divergent palates of the entire family poses a fun challenge. This year I've planned 8 cooked dinners, 4 cooked breakfasts, and additional breakfast and lunch items for eating on the go.
Camping with extended family provides a chance to get closer to nature and closer to one another. Copper Falls State Park in Northern Wisconsin offers a great place for families to enjoy gorgeous scenery, mountain bike trails, a swim in Loon Lake, or a short paddle. At the concession stand families can enjoy delicious, cool icecream or a hamburger after hiking, and on Sundays and Wednesdays the concession stand offers giant, fluffy pancakes with sausage for breakfast. Copper Falls State Park is located near Mellen in Ashland County, Wisconsin just off State Highway 169.
Loons swam with their chicks calling loud warnings as eagles swooped down from warm, sunny skies. They called mournful calls as night fell wrapping the lake in a blanket of cool darkness. Bullfrogs croaked. Thousands of tadpoles in various stages of development filled the shallow waters along the lake shore. Turtles sunbathed on logs. Wildflowers waved in the breeze. Fungi and moss thrived on fallen trees. Cool green ferns lined serene footpaths. Reflections of clouds on the lake mirrored the tranquil sky. The Sylvania Wilderness gave our family all of this plus so much more.
Time in the wilderness is good for our family. It brings us closer together, and closer to nature. For our first wilderness adventure of 2017, we headed north to the Sylvania Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest in Upper Michigan near Watersmeet. What a luxury to get away from the distraction of work, school, homework, electronics, and evening conference calls. On this trip, I showered my family with attention. I don't care if the mosquitoes bit or how much it rained, I enjoyed every minute with my family in this wonderful place, the Sylvania Wilderness.