In my last post, I wrote about the peace we feel when kayaking on any of the wild, unspoiled lakes in northern Wisconsin. On a Sunday morning this past September, while camping at the nearby campground, it is the lake with which we are most familiar that is our destination, Anvil Lake in eastern Vilas County. As we are feeling a bit lazy this morning, we do not hit the water until nearly 7:00 a.m., but still the lake is as smooth as glass. As we paddle out, no other traffic, human or water-going, is evident. The sun is up, the temperature warm. There is no wind.
As we pull away from the dock, we observe a loon twenty feet ahead and to the left of our course. We pull right a bit more so as not to frighten him. We like to paddle this lake as, it is not only near our cabin, but several pairs of nesting loons reside here and we like to observe them from a distance. We have seen them before eggs have hatched, with very young offspring and doing what appears to be teaching the young to fish.
On this late summer morning, it is a male we observe, but we soon hear him utter a plaintive call to his mate. He then spies us and ducks below the surface of the water to make his escape. He pops up some time later, fifty feet beyond his previous location. His mate echos his call and we spot her later in our journey.
We head east along the south shore of the lake. We like to stay close enough to the shore to notice any wildlife lurking in the brush in the wilder areas of the lake. Miraculously, we spot a cautious red fox peering at us from the bushes but he disappears quickly before we can snap a picture. He almost seems to be a mirage, given the speed of his disappearance.
As we continue on our journey, we see an eagle circling overhead. He spots a fish and dives in, only to emerge quickly with his breakfast firmly ensconced in his beak. Terry and I are silent, both watching the eagle. Words are not necessary and would only disturb our peace in this magical setting.
As we continue on, a family of ducks watches us cautiously as they swim along the shore. The mother and three ducklings swim away, and then waddle onto the shore as if to run away from the intruders. Only after we pass their location do they again take to the water, heading in the opposite direction of our travel, with momma watching us cautiously from behind her brood.
We round the edge of the lake and spy the loon nest we have been watching for a number of years. Careful to stay 50 feet away so as not to frighten them, we wait for awhile but see little. The loons must be out for the day.
The wind is beginning to pick up so we decide to head back to the dock, our calm having been disturbed. It is then that we observe the loons from the nest we had seen, swimming in a line, with two chicks swimming between the adults. We halt our forward motion immediately and watch as the mature birds take turns showing their young how to dive and hunt. We watch for while, then, spotted by the parents, we move on.
Traffic on the lake starts to pick up as we near the dock. Boat motors begin to disturb the peace. More fishermen are taking to the water and locating favorite spots around the lake. We dock the kayak, then load it onto our vehicle, completely relaxed by the calming start to our Sunday.
We return to our quiet campsite, feeling much as if we had attended a church service. All seems right with the world and everything seems to be in perspective again. In this frame of mind, we ready ourselves to make the trip back to our home in the southeastern part of the state and the busy work week ahead, all the richer for having taken this quiet paddle.
For more information about camping in Wisconsin, browse Woodall’s listings of Wisconsin Campgrounds.