Monday, October 6, 2014

Backpacking at Governor Dodge State Park, Oct. 4-5, 2014

With Saturday's forecast calling for highs of 44 F and lows around freezing, we decide to test our family's three season backpacking skills.

We choose Governor Dodge for its location fairly close to home, and because other regional backpacking areas already allow hunting. Note, hunting starts soon at Governor Dodge. Check out areas open for hunting on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' hunting map for Governor Dodge.

After an early lunch of BLT sandwiches to enjoy our last garden tomatoes before the frost, we hit the road. We arrive at Governor Dodge State Park in Southern Wisconsin around 1:00 p.m.


Our strategy for keeping warm involves layering. I ask my daughter to wear long underwear, a sweater, fleece, and rain gear for her layers, along with a hat and gloves. This mirrors my strategy. It enables us to layer up and down as activity levels require.

We're down to our lower layers as we're warm on our hike.

She decides long underwear are "yucky", and dresses in stretchy pants and her favorite Avengers pajamas under her sweater as inner layers. Why not? She looks like circus colors on parade and giggles with glee at the opportunity to flaunt her choices.


Scenic overlook on the Lost Canyon Trail.

Just for fun we hike the Lost Canyon Trail, a scenic 3 mile loop with a few historic displays, including an old spring house. We start (and end) with a visit to the spring house. Our second stop is a look at Stephen's falls as our daughter loves the old familiar spring house and falls. She just can't wait.

Spring house (old timey fridge).

During the dayhike we see a squirrel and a few birds, including a fun to watch woodpecker. The entire trail is beautiful. We do the loop in a counter-clockwise direction beginning from Stephen's Falls. This gives us a good uphill workout, yet proves doable for our daughter.

On the Lost Canyon Loop, so inviting!

There are so many places to scamper across boulders, splash with the trekking pole, and enjoy beauty along the trail. After the hike, the scampering, the splashing, and three different granola bars stops for our always hungry daughter, we get to the parking area after 4:30 p.m.


On the way to the backpacking trailhead, I spot a splendid buck. We see it from the car, and somehow it doesn't feel like it counts as we don't come upon the deer in a meaningful way. We just whiz by.

Taking in the views while hiking to camp.

The walk to camp is only a half mile, a good portion of it uphill. The temperature begins to fall, and I am thankful the hill provides enough exercise to warm us. The hill also makes it tough carrying firewood with packs on. We ditch our wood halfway up, and my husband kindly offers to retrieve our bundles later. He only makes one trip back. A camping neighbor from site 803, seeing what he's up to, grabs the other bundle, and surprises us by hauling it up for us. Trail Angel!

Night comes earlier now that summer's over.

In the car, we stash extra quilts along with a winter coat for our daughter as a contingency plan. Our layers suffice and our sleeping bags keep us warm enough through the night. The coat and quilts stay in the car. We stay warm, but my daughter and I do wear hats and layers including fleece (but not rain gear) inside our sleeping bags. During the night I hear a coyote and a few owls.

Frosty Sunrise.

Sunday morning I wake to a frost coated world. To warm up, as soon as the predawn light allows, I choose to walk back to the vault toilet near the parking area. I love the morning, the stillness, the chance to stretch my legs. The uphill hike back warms me enough to enjoy the frosty morning.

Our campsite.

Half way back to camp, I bump into a group of frozen campers loaded up with gear, and hurrying to their car. The first guy is holding up a fire poker stick (as evidenced by one charred end), seemingly in self defense. I wonder. Surely he doesn't think I'm a bear?

In hopes they left some wood behind, I check out their campsite. No wood, lots of mess. After we relax, eat, and enjoy our fire, we break down camp. Then my daughter and I go clean up the mess in the neighboring campsite.

Ready to hike out.

On our hike out, I sound like Mrs. Rattle Pots with site 806's food cans clanging about in a trash bag hanging from the outside of my pack.


Playground time is a fun reward for a happy little camper.

I feel proud our daughter carried her own backpack without a fuss. She also hiked nicely on the three mile loop, and did her camp chores without too much complaining. A stop at the playground on our way out of the park rewards her efforts.


Meal:                             Food:
Hiking Snacks (Car)     Granola Bars, Trail Mix
Dinner                             Mountain House Beef Stroganoff, Cheese, Sausage, Pita Bread
Breakfast                        Oatmeal, Leftover Cheese and Sausage
Camp Snacks                 Granola Bars
Emergency Meal           Mountain House Chicken Noodle

No comments:

Post a Comment