Thursday, July 23, 2015

Black River State Forest, WI

For today's adventure we shall venture to Black River State Forest. Black River State Forest is located close to Black River Falls, WI.  The forest is perfect playground for any outdoor enthusiast whether it backpacking, hiking, skiing, car camping, or even ATV'ing.
Our adventure of choice was backpacking.  This was my steppie's first real backpacking excursion.  We did this in conjunction with one of her girl scout badges.   We went in July during the week.  We did not see another soul while we were out in the woods.
Day 1 we set out on the Norway Pine Trail.  This was part of the Wildcat trail system. They have the Norway Pin Trail listed as difficult.  I understand this as the terrain is pretty hilly.

We hooked up with the Wildcat trail loop for an additional 3.5 miles in day one. Our late lunch/dinner stop was at an overlook off of the Wildcat trail.

The Wildcat loop then reconnects with the Norway Pine Trail.

Enjoying various overlooks and did I mention, July is hot.

Our campsite for the night was behind the shelter on the Norway Pine Trail.
There were two make shift campsites up the hill behind the shelter.  Each also had little fire pits that were "built" by people prior.  We were a little nervous during the night as we read that there were some wolf packs that call this area of the forest home.  Thankfully we did not have any run ins with them...and only almost cooked a poor little toad. 
The next morning we hiked back to the parking lot to learn our number one lesson from the not rely on the water information that is provided.  Always bring your own.  The pump in the lot did not work, so prior to heading out to hike the lower area we had to drive to town to get some water.
Day 2 was a hot one to say the least.  We found out later that a storm had blown thru weeks earlier and took out quite a few trees.  So the shade was sparse.  We parked in the Smrekar lot and then hiking the ridge, north and central trails.

Where the forest used to be...

The shelter a very welcoming site with the heat of the day

 At the point of arriving here everyone including my Bullet was exhausted.

After a review of the map and check on the time of day, we opted to finish the loop versus staying at the shelter.

Instead we stayed our second night at the Pigeon Creek Campground.

It was beautiful plus there was a lake to take a quick dip in.

Bonus ending is that the steppie survived her first backpacking trip and loved it to the extent that she looks forward to doing this with me.  Hence why she has now become my crazy adventure girl.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Buckhorn State Park, WI

Today we shall take the time to travel to Buckhorn State Park, WI. Buckhorn State Park is located on a peninsula in the Castle Rock Flowage of the Wisconsin River.  The sites at this state park are cart in sites.  The park provides the carts for you.  While I appreciated that the park provided the carts, the trail to our site was rather sandy and it took a lot to pull the cart.  We packed as if we were backpacking though, so really there was not much for the cart.  With my copilot at his post, let's begin....
This winding road shall take you to the park.  I wanted to share this because as you notice there are bodies of water on each side of this and as I was driving I could not help but think of the scene in "Twister" with the cows flying across the road.
We stayed in site number 18.  It was approximately 1.2 mile walk in.  We went for a weekend in August.  It was extremely hot plus a full moon.  As you will be able to see, there was not much shade.  Keep that in mind when booking the sites.  Reserve America has some great pictures of the sites.

One of the nicest features though is that the sites are right on the water.  At the time of the trip, we did not have our boat or jet skis yet.  We may need to revisit this place in the future.
It is a perfect place for you to be able to hang out at your campsite and have your own private beach area for the kids to swim.
We also took the time out to check out the pet beach area.  Pets are only allowed in specific public beach areas.   Even though bullet enjoyed himself, I was rather disappointed in the pet beach area.  It would be nice to see the state park system put a little more effort etc. into the pet beach areas.  After all the pets bring their humans and we want to enjoy the lakes as a family.

Here is the view towards the woods from our site.  Sidenote that this picture won second place in their photography contest.  It just happened to be a beautiful moment in the morning.

While we were there we also did some geocaching.  This is one of the first state parks to allow the hiding of geocaches.   
Overall we had a beautiful weekend at Buckhorn and look forward to going back with a boat and some jet skis.