Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Camping at Hartman Creek State Park for a Leaf Peap Paddle on the Chain of Lakes, Sept. 26-28, 2014

With the forecast calling for perfect autumn weather, I envisioned sunny blue skies and aqua water framed by autumn’s first colors. Hesitant to bring it up as we just car camped at Hartman Creek State Park and paddled the Chain of Lakes near Waupaca, Wisconsin in July, I felt certain my family would veto the idea. Although my husband prefers the thrill of new places and what’s around the next bend, he kindly said yes.
 So with another long work week behind us and daylight fading, we jumped into the car and headed north. Getting dark earlier now, we felt rushed.

We nibbled our home packed dinner on the way, avoiding the fast food gut bomb we encountered on our last Friday night rush north. After setting camp, we enjoyed a campfire and the night ended quickly. With temperatures in the fifties, the cool night provided a perfect setting for sleep.

Hartman Creek State Park

Rising before four o'clock, I enjoyed a couple hours reading by headlamp before I walked off for a sunrise hike. Peaceful mornings make camping wonderful. This morning, geese filled the air with sound. At first light, I hiked to Hartman Lake, and waited for sunrise.

Saturday morning's sunrise proved well worth the wait. Later back at camp, we had bacon, eggs, toast, bananas, and oatmeal for breakfast. Big breakfasts make car camping feel so luxurious.

A beautiful day for a paddle, we put in at Marl Lake. Early enough, we started out on a peaceful  paddle. Later into the paddle the lakes began to fill up, creating quite a cluster in the channels between the lakes for the paddle out.

We had a peaceful morning paddling channels between the lakes. The route started at Marl Lake, then we paddled across Shung-we Creek to Pope Lake, then Manomin Lake, then Knight Lake, then Lake Orlando, then Beasley Lake, then Long Lake, then Columbia Lake, then Dake Lake, then Miner Lake. From there, we headed back through the list in reverse, adding Youngs Lake and Ottman Lake on the return. This may sound like a full day of paddling, but the lakes are small. All in all, a nice, relaxing day to leaf peep and enjoy the glorious weather.

Something great happened on our way back. Our daughter, who likes to get our goats by saying she dislikes the canoe, wanted to portage the canoe through a shallow channel herself. At the takeout she didn't want to hop out of the canoe. She said she didn't want it to be over. A proud moment for her Dad and me.

After a late lunch of chili with Fritos and apples, we went fishing. Our daughter had fun watching the fish nibble her bait through the clear water. She didn't seem time mind not snagging one.

After fishing, our daughter asked to go to the beach to try and photograph the sunset herself. Sure, why not? While waiting for the sunset, she played with a remote control boat in the lake.

After sunset, we enjoyed a dinner of steak fajitas and pudgy pies. While enjoying the campfire, our daughter fell asleep in my lap, a tired but happy camper. After her big day, I thought she might sleep late the next morning.

Since Saturday morning's hike felt so good, I decided on a sunrise hike again Sunday morning. I took my time getting back, thinking everyone would sleep in after the big day we had Saturday. When I returned my daughter awaited, wanting to go for a "girls" hike.

My daughter wanted to go for her hike in pajamas. She likes making choices, and what's the harm in a little jammy hiking? She loved it. We enjoyed some time on the swings before and after we hiked around Allen Lake.

Geese filled the air with migration sounds again Sunday morning at Allen Lake. After our hike, we returned to enjoy some breakfast before breaking down camp. With the packing finished, we took our daughter to fish again at Allen Lake.

It ended all too quickly, as our little excursions always do. Before we knew it, it was time again to fly away home.

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