Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wood Lake Segment ~ Revisited

It's been a few years since Charlie and I have been on the Wood Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Back in November 2013, we did a bit of the trail around the lake but didn't do the full segment.

So last weekend, after finishing up the last of my field editing for the Rib Lake Segment, I decided to check out Wood Lake again... this time in summer.

What a difference a season makes. The trail looks so different draped in green. Last time we were here everything was bare and brown; now the woods were full of life. Branches dripped with drops of rain and the undulating topography welcomed magical little streams and ponds at the bottom of each valley.

Varieties of mushrooms cover the forest floor but look like something that belong on the ocean floor. Everything was alive and green!

The new boardwalk/bridge is lovely and well-built. You can smell the freshly cut lumber well before you can see it. The volunteers who keep up with the trail building and maintenance are truly gifted!

We had a beautifully refreshing hike on a very scenic part of the Ice Age Trail with no one else in sight! How lucky are we to have access to these untouched parts of Wisconsin... for free! Truly amazing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Kettlebowl Segment - Ice Age Trail

Embracing my adventurous spirit, Charlie and I embarked on our longest hike of the year on Monday. Having taken a "mental health" day from work, I decided my time would best be served spending an entire day exploring a new trail.

Realizing that I have only done one other segment in Langlade County, it seemed only natural to head in that direction.

An hour later, we arrived at the trail head for the Kettlebowl Segment at the entrance to the Kettlebowl Ski Area; now closed for the season, but with a tiny little area to park outside the locked gate.

The sign on the tree behind Charlie says, "Sled Dog Trail"

It was 11am by the time we started hiking and the mild morning temps had risen to close to 80 degrees. A nice breeze joined us along the trail and the hilly terrain propelled us forward as we immersed ourselves in this new landscape.

By the time we reached Big Stone Hole, I realized that Charlie was slowing down quite a bit and probably wouldn't make it as far as the Kent Fire Tower as I had planned.

I let my inquisitive nature take over and bush-wacked my way back into the spur trail toward Big Stone Hole, which apparently no one had explored in a long time based on how overgrown everything was.

I was a little nervous climbing down into the hole filled with tons of moss-covered boulders, some as big as small cars. Rotted tree logs disguised themselves as rocks and I had to be careful where I stepped so I didn't end up falling down into a pit or crevice and getting myself stuck.

Being in a true wilderness area away from civilization where you can't get cell phone reception and no one would hear you scream if something happened is invigorating, albeit a little nerve-wracking as well.

I stood in this Big Stone Hole for a while, marveling at the quantity of rocks that the glacier deposited here thousands of years ago, imagining the distance that they traveled only to end up in a big hole where no one ever goes.

Charlie hopped from rock to rock, exploring the crevices and trying to figure out what this place was all about.

Once my curiosity was satisfied, we back-tracked and enjoyed a slow, leisurely pace on the return hike to the parking area.

Charlie practically fell asleep the minute she got in the car. I watched her content little face all the way home, feet twitching to good dreams about hiking. We stopped for some ice cream and had ourselves a little mid-summer treat on our special Monday outing.

And once again, because of time spent in the woods, I can feel my heart and mind slowly healing.

This is a little video footage of a moment spent in Big Stone Hole... unfortunately it just does NOT do this place justice! Enjoy!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Field Editing & Musings on Love

Charlie and I have been staying close to home and hiking our "usual" trails for most of the summer. I've been busy with work and Charlie's getting a bit older which means she doesn't require the long, vigorous hikes that she used to.

But I've felt my confidence and sense of adventure slipping away lately... letting the responsibilities of being an adult overtake my need for connecting with the wilderness and testing my strength. Forgetting about creating balance between work and life.

I've let my unnecessary need to find a relationship take precious time away from my family, friends and hobbies. And the result of this constant search has left me feeling empty and more alone than when I was single by choice.

When I'm in a relationship (or trying to be in a relationship), I lose myself in the other person. I give them everything at the expense of what I want or need. My life begins to revolve around them. I become oversensitive and needy... giving enormous amounts of love and wanting it reciprocated. And while all the guys I've dated have told me how amazingly wonderful, giving, passionate and truly special I am, I've yet to find a guy who sticks around. 

So after another disastrous let-down, I decided that I'm really more happy when I'm single and I kinda like myself better when I'm single. So I'm consciously staying single for now.

After all the dating crap I've been through in the last year and a really recent loss of a truly special guy, I needed to find something to take my mind off all the chatter in my brain.

Which was actually great timing, because I remembered that I volunteered to field edit* the Rib Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail back in April... and now it's August! Yikes. My deadline is September 1st. Talk about cutting it close.

So Charlie and I went on a road trip this past Saturday and did our duty of field editing the Rib Lake Segment. I had thought it was going to be more work than it actually was because the trail addition that was supposed to happen this year wasn't finished yet, so our task wasn't as daunting as I had first imagined.

The weather was absolutely perfect this weekend and it was great getting out and exploring new trails and navigating through the highways and back roads of our state, seeing new sights and feeling capable and strong again.

While the trail wasn't very long, it was the refreshing start I needed to find myself again.

I had forgotten how a day spent in nature, finding new challenges and getting away from all the brain-noise can really help center your mind/body/spirit and help you think more clearly.

Suddenly life doesn't seem quite so sad and depressing. I actually feel like I can totally rock the single life.

*Every few years the Ice Age Trail Alliance publishes new guidebooks with the most current information on the trail. Field editing is a necessary step to update the trail descriptions and amenities. Volunteers are selected to field edit a specific segment prior to the next publishing date. Watch for new guidebooks in 2017... I will be listed as a field editor! And make sure to check out the Ice Age Trail webpage for volunteer opportunities and any other information related to the trail at www.iceagetrail.org.