Saturday, January 26, 2013

Council Grounds State Park

Charlie did great while I was out of town last night, but she's definitely ready to go on the next hike! I'm completely wiped out from the activities of the last 24 hours. The weather on the drive down to Milwaukee was terrible ~ complete white-knuckle driving, combined with rush hour traffic and bad directions totally stressed me out. We got there in time to check into our hotel and rush across the street to catch the concert. The drive home the next day was much better. We took a more familiar (and scenic) route and got home safely. And Charlie was happy to see me! I "decompressed" for a couple hours to relax from all the driving, but then realized that Charlie was going to need a good long hike to be satisfied for the day. Another drive was looming...

Charlie and I live on a typical city block about a mile from downtown Wausau. It's a convenient location, but oh how I miss living in the country where you can just walk out your backdoor and go hiking in the fields and woods surrounding your house. Charlie gets regular walks around our neighborhood, but there are not a lot of "off-leash" opportunities. In my opinion, a dog's life is not complete if they aren't allowed to run untethered every now and then. It's just not in their nature to be tied up all the time. The sheer joy in Charlie's face when she gets to run flat-out at top speed is priceless. Because of this, we end up driving to find good secluded hiking spots where she can run and I don't have to worry about traffic or people. Winter is the ideal time for this because many people just don't venture out ~ which is great because we get the woods all to ourselves!

But when we got to Council Grounds State Park today, there were signs posted for the Ice Drags. After driving a half hour to get there, I was pretty disappointed to realize that the park was going to have more activity today than I was hoping for. Charlie was spooked by all the engine revving noise on the river and neither of us were enjoying the hike too much. After a short walk along an unused path, we turned around and went back to the parking lot.

I thought maybe if I drove around, we could find another trail that would be more peaceful; that was not to be the case. Apparently most of the trails in the park have been groomed for cross country skiing and there were signs posted everywhere that no hiking was allowed on the groomed trails. Looked like we were out of luck today and weren't going to find a good spot afterall. Despite this, the short hike along the riverbank was quite beautiful. The soft pine branches were so green! And Charlie did get to explore a new place, even if it was short-lived.

We drove back into Merrill where I stopped at Culver's to get a frozen custard and feed Charlie some dog treats while we sat in the parking lot. I pulled out my Wisconsin Gazatteer to see if I could find some other hidden gem on our way back to Wausau. There was a small town(?) called Pine River that showed an icon for a "geographical feature." I thought it might be fun to check it out, but we ended up at a dead end road surrounded by private property and no way to hike back in to the woods to find this mystical geographical feature. I guess it will remain a mystery. I was getting tired and decided I'd been driving enough already so we headed home. We took a small detour to take a quick walk around the East High School athletic fields. Charlie definitely did not get the exercise I had intended for her today, but the effort was there.