Saturday, April 23, 2016

Camping at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest

The Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, is located on Wisconsin State Highway 60 between Slinger and Hartland, Wisconsin. The park offers a beach, bike trails, camping, and plenty of hiking trails including the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. After another 5-day work week within this lengthy holiday-free span between New Year's Day and Memorial day, we packed up and headed out. We stopped in Hartland on our way into the park for a Cousins sub.

The park is close enough to Hartland and Slinger to walk a couple miles into town for anything one might need including plenty of restaurants, gas stations, and the Hartland Walmart. We quickly learned sounds of traffic and trains fill the air day and night in the park. We had about enough time to get camp set up before dark. This being the first weekend in camp since December, our parental boundaries were tested. Would Mom and Dad actually enforce camp chores? It's not much we require, a little "assistance" with the tent as we put it up, and inflating one's own mat. After the drama, I wondered how the rest of the weekend would go.

View in camp.

On our first morning, our daughter insisted on rising before the sun. After some whining about the food choices and the chill in the morning air, her mood continued heading south. Given the choice of back to bed or hiking with Mom, she chose the hike and after about a minute of walking was transformed into the happiest child in the campground. She was thrilled to see 5 deer and an owl. Once the sun peeked over the horizon we began to see joggers and the wildlife sightings stopped. It took us about 2 hours to do the 30 minute hike to the observation tower and back due to all the exploring, climbing on things, and critter watching. When we got back I realized we had lost our camera, so I headed back up to the tower to find it.

Hike to the tower - 1.7 miles (2.7 km) round trip.

View of the hills from the observation tower on Powder Hill.

Looking at Pike Lake from the observation tower on Powder Hill.

When I returned I made grilled cheese sandwiches and bacon with fresh fruit as the time fell half way between breakfast and lunch. About this time a relative and her daughter arrived. We appreciated our daughter having a friend for a day and I enjoyed the company as well. The girls and Moms went for a canoe ride on Pike Lake. The kids played in the sand on the beach, had a picnic, played on the playground, and rode their bikes on the bike trail while the grown ups walked along behind them. After all of this they were wiped out. We had a bite to eat and said our goodbyes.

The girls having fun with their bikes.

For Chistmas last year, I gave my husband a reflector oven. Our first time using it this weekend could have turned out many different ways, but I am pleased to say we had a hit on our hands. We bought some just-add-water cornbread, cookie, and biscuit mixes to try. This time we opted to try the corn bread. The corn bread took only a couple of minutes to cook and its browning turned out perfectly gorgeous. It tasted delicious with our dehydrated chili. My only regret? I should have taken a picture!

Sunday morning I rose early and got in about 9.6 miles (15 km) in on the Ice Age Trail. As the sun grew stronger, blossoms appeared on the forest floor and leafs began to show. I really enjoyed that the timing of this hike allowed me to watch the signs of spring reveal themselves as the sun grew warmer. When I returned some 3 hours later, I found my husband and daughter cooking hash browns. We enjoyed a breakfast of hash browns, bacon, and fresh fruits before breaking down camp and heading home. To my relief, we completed our camp chores with good cooperation and an impressive bit of enthusiasm. We headed home looking forward to our next weekend in camp.

Trip Menu:

Breakfasts: Days  1 & 2 - Oatmeal with fruit & nuts, bacon, eggs, toast, bananas, cuties.

Lunch: Grilled ham and cheese with grapes and carrots.

Dinners: Day 1 - Cousins Subs. Day 2 - Chili, corn bread, pudgie pie with grapes.


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