Planning Equals Perfection: Making That First Hike A Success

You all know I am from Wisconsin and if you don’t love brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer you are definitely labeled an outsider. So ultimately, I am one of the biggest outsiders living in my zip code. Which is why I write this blog…..to show everyone  that there is more to life than brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer.

Wisconsin has so much to offer if you love water, trees, trails and snow. Now, you all know I will not be focusing on snow today since I have a love/hate relationship with that cold, white stuff that falls from the skies for months every year. I love when it melts and hate to see it return a few months later…..so like I said…..a love/hate relationship! Today I would rather focus on the other three months of the year….summer, spring and fall in Wisconsin. Fall is the best time, in my opinion, to hike Wisconsin trails. It’s cool, crisp, and beautiful. Spring and summer are not bad either if you like it a bit muddy in the spring and can ignore the numerous bugs Wisconsin has to offer in the summer months. Which most of us that live here learn to tolerate at some point.

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Since hiking is something I truly love to do, I have been urging a friend of mine to give it a try and take that first step onto a dirt trail. Although, she has always been hesitant since #1 she has never really hiked before, #2 she is afraid of the unknown, and #3 she has no idea where to go do this. Well, say no more, I can fix all these….well almost all these. Let’s face it, aren’t we all afraid of the unknown???

As soon as she said she was willing, I said I was able and I began planning a day I knew she would enjoy. I began by finding a location somewhere close to home since we only had a day. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of activities so she would enjoy herself but at the same time not stress about the actual hike itself. It also made it very helpful to me to know what her activity level is. This is what I based the trail distance on….I knew anything over 4 miles would be a stretch.

The hike part of our day ended up being at a popular county park I am very familiar with and we hiked the gorgeous wooded trail along the bluffs of Lake Michigan.

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We had the perfect day for this adventure. The park was busy but not too busy, temps were perfect for hiking, and the bugs were tolerable for this time of year. We even had the pleasure of witnessing one couple exchange vows on the bluff of Lake Michigan….so beautiful.

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I concentrated on finding a trail that offered a bit of difficulty since I know she is one to challenge herself.

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Distance was about 2 miles roundtrip with many places to sit and rest if needed.

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It was cool along the waters edge since I knew she is not fond of heat. And I was familiar with this trail since hiking it many, many times in the past gave her the confidence that I knew where we were going on how we were going to return.

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Planning a hike for someone who has never hiked before only takes a bit of thought. Even if you are strangers, asking a few general questions from them before choosing a trail will almost always guarantee a successful hike. Have some water and a few snacks ready to offer at the end of the hike and you will be set to enjoy a day on the trail.

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Here are a few more photos from our day .

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First Camping Trip of 2016

Hello, Hello…. how was your weekend?

Mine was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!

We (actually I) decided it would be a great weekend to go camping. Our son was scheduled to work both jobs and my husband and I decided why stay home…..so we went camping.When my husband arrived home from work Friday afternoon, I was packed and ready to go.

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We arrived just before sunset and had almost everything up and ready by the time darkness set in.

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We went to bed quite early since my husband was suffering from jet lag after traveling this week and we had both put in a full day of work. Plus, the plans for Saturday were to visit my favorite WI park and do some hiking. Our goal was the complete the loop of both bluffs at Devil’s Lake State Park….which is approx 6.5 miles.

We woke Saturday morning after a night thunder, lightening and big rain, that thankfully, our tent held up to perfectly. On the menu for breakfast was pancakes, fruit, and coffee.

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Then we headed to the park a few miles away. Since we had been here many, many times before we knew exactly where we were headed. My only hope is that I could manage the entire loop, which would be my longest hike since my surgery.

 at the top of one bluff

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and at the top of another bluff

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here are sights we saw in between the two bluffs

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We shared lunch in the middle of the two bluffs over looking the lake.

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And completed the entire loop in a little more than four hours. Success!!!

After hiking we headed back for some relaxation at camp before playing a game of disc golf together on the campground property.

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Then prepared dinner….chicken alfredo with broccoli.

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After that is was a few games of cards, some time by the campfire and bedtime after a long and very successful day.

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We had a wonderful time hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park and camping at a near by campground that has quickly become our favorite in that area. It ended up being a great place to unplug, relax, and unwind from a long busy week.

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I arrived home and was happy to see my son planning to prepare dinner for Mother’s Day. How nice is that…….

Do you enjoy camping?

Where is your favorite place to camp?

Name one plus and one minus to camping. (mine would be: plus= no electronics, minus=bugs)

 

Tagging Along For The Day

Recently, our son and a friend casually mentioned that they were considering a hiking trip to my favorite WI park which quickly made me think fast. I knew they were both college students and, let’s face it, always tight on money, so if we offered to drive and supply lunch they may let us tag along for the day. So, the offer was made and by the next morning excepted…..which made this mom very happy.

I wish we lived closer to this area because this would be where I would spend a great majority of my time, hiking in Devil’s Lake State Park. This park literally has everything we love, well almost, it does not have whitewater rapids. It does have a lake for standup paddling, fishing, and swimming. It has bluffs to climb and hiking trails that are well marked and fun to hike. And the view is as good as it gets in Wisconsin.

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Since both our son and his friend are photography students, they each had their backpacks loaded with camera equipment, which meant I had the pleasure of trying out my new Gregory backpack. (Which I LOVE) My husband had his backpack which started out empty since we began hiking when it was pretty chilly. As the temperature quickly rose, we started peeling layers off half way up the bluff and loading it into his backpack.

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Our new hiking companion had never been here before, much less hiking anywhere for that matter. They have been doing little bits and pieces around home but this was by far the biggest hike he had been on. If only he could have seen his facial expression upon walking up to the trail head, it was photo worthy in my opinion. I hopefully put his mind at ease by reminding him that slow and steady is the key to success when hiking up cliffs/bluffs and that when he needed to stop and “smell the roses,” or catch his breath, to  do just that. We have done this hike a hundred times, so we knew exactly what was ahead. For him, this was truly a new adventure which we were hoping to make a big success.

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By the time we reached the top everyone was warmed up and ready to explore. IMG_2775  IMG_2790

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Then it was time for a little break. We found a sunny area and all shared a snack.

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After numerous pictures were taken it was time to head back down. It was not a long distance hike by any means, but it was successful. Anytime we can share our love of the trail with someone new is a success in my eyes.

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Then it was picnic time and we decided since we were not sure until last minute if we would actually be able to join them, that freeze dried meals would be easiest and fun for this newbie hiker to experience.

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It ended up being a wonderful day of hiking and getting to know a new friend a little more. We returned to 80 degree weather at home and even managed to get a little yard work done before the sun set.

 

 

Weekend Highlights: Devil’s Lake Spring Hike/Glamping (glamorous camping)

I often wonder if my husband is afraid to read his email at work when he see’s it’s from me. Although, when we first got married I was not a “pick up and go” kind of person. I would plan everything out weeks/months in advance. Well, those days are over.

So, after spending such a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend outside and enjoying it so much, I was sort of sad to see it end. Which got me to thinking last Monday morning, why don’t we go camping? It’s still too cold to kayak and water levels are still very high so that sport is completely out of the question. Our son was not scheduled to work and it’s not too hot yet so the bugs will be tolerable. So, I quickly sent a little email simply giving it a title of CAMPING?? to see my husbands thoughts on this plan. He answered quite quickly with a YES and the ball was now in my court.

Typically, when you plan to camp you would normally take a quick peak at the weather forecast. Although, I did and knew the highs for the weekend were looking pretty nice (60-65) I never thought to look at the lows. By Wednesday we had made a few adjustments to our plan to tent camp and ended up renting a basic cabin with heat near the park we planned to hike. Our son told me to man up, but when I mentioned to him that he would have to be the one to listen to me complain how cold it was…. he then agreed to the cabin arrangement pretty quickly.

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Friday night after work we left for our destination. We rented the cabin at Fox Hills RV park and Campground in Baraboo,WI. We wanted to get there Friday night so we could have the entire day to hike at Devil’s Lake State Park. We were the very first tenants in this brand new cabin. Very nicely built. Even my husband could not find a flaw anywhere in the design. Now that is a miracle!

We arrived, checked out the grounds, played a little chess,

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made smore’s, and went to sleep in our HEATED cabin.

We started our day of hiking early. I had a goal in mind to finally hike the entire loop around the lake. Every time we come here to hike we do one bluff or the other because we drive home the same night. So this was it. My day to cross something off my bucket list.

We started at one end,

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climbing to the top of this bluff,

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past Devil’s Doorway

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then around the entire lake to the other side and up the second bluff.

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We even found Croc Rock along the way.

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We made it in just under 5 hours with a break for lunch on the trail included. Sweet success, a total loop!

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What a day! The sun was shining beautifully. I had the opportunity to try my new trekking poles. We did some geocaching.

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As always, the view from the top took my breath away.

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And again, I got to watch some rock climbers do their thing. Maybe someday I may try this….or maybe not.

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After all this, it was back to the campsite for pudgy pies and more smore’s. Yum!

We had so much fun as a family hiking this beautiful park that I hope you will all consider doing something like this with your family. It really does not get any better than this.

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Happy Trails Everyone 🙂