While many of the activities we enjoy while camping involve the entire family, Terry and I do share a favorite pastime in which the rest of our family does not typically engage, due largely to the time of day at which we do it: paddling. A common vacation destination for a long weekend is the northern part of our home state of Wisconsin and we have taken to exploring as many of the wild lakes in northern Wisconsin as we can manage to visit.
We had been avid paddlers for many years, spending many happy hours during our now-teenaged children’s toddler and early school years in our Oldtowne canoe. Since they have been old enough to stay on their own, however, we’ve graduated to a tandem kayak that we enjoy paddling. We like to get out as early as we can rouse ourselves, often on Sunday mornings of a camping week or weekend, ideally hitting our chosen waters by 6:00 or 6:30 am, which explains why we do this sans children.
One particular area of the northwoods of Wisconsin that we often frequent is Vilas County, which boasts a multitude of beautiful, unspoiled lakes as well as a chain of lakes or two, as well as our favorite forest service campgrounds nearby in which to camp. There are, in fact, over 1,320 lakes in Vilas County, 563 named lakes and 757 unnamed lakes, more than any other county in the state, resulting in one of the highest concentrations of inland freshwater lakes in the world. To discover them all, we do have our work cut out for us. We usually try to avoid the chain lakes in most cases, as they are too busy with motor boats and fishermen, even at that time of the morning, to suit our needs for a quiet paddle and a little peace and serenity.
In the years we have been exploring these waters, we have not been disappointed with the variety of different lochs that we have discovered. Luna and White Deer Lakes, each so small they are listed even on a local lake map as a single location, Luna-White Deer. It was an unexpected delight to discover that they are actually two separate bodies of water, each with its own wilderness shoreline. Franklin Lake is the site of one of the most beautiful unspoiled campgrounds we have ever spent a night. One fall, we obtained a permit and gathered wild rice on a beautiful autumn afternoon on Allequash Lake. The rice stands so thick in the water, it is difficult to paddle through at times. Picturesque Butternut Lake is mostly wild with beautiful home sites sparsely scattered around its perimeter and is near enough to Franklin to provide for a very enjoyable camping experience as well.
In my next post I will describe a lovely paddle we enjoyed on a recent Sunday morning; an experience as spiritual as any church service.
For more information about things to do in Wisconsin, read more about Wisconsin camping.