Powering Down

I didn’t realize that I wasn’t going to have cell phone reception on our camping trip until we got to our site, set up the tent, and I went to call the BOY.  With a huge X where there are usually 4-5 bars dancing across the top of my phone, it was obvious that calls were not going to happen.  I texted him from a friends phone so he knew I was safe and didn’t have reception for the weekend and then pressed the button on my phone while announcing that I was ‘Powering Down’. 

‘Off the grid!” my friends verified.




It’s been a crazy first half of the year, and my two coworkers/camp mates agreed that we needed a trip to get away but also not think or work too hard.  Very different from our backpacking trip in the fall, we had the luxuries of a toilet, running water, and big minivan to store our stuff.  This was the camping weekend that we needed!  On Friday mid morning, we started our drive up to Wisconsin, stopping for lunch and beer in the hip town of Madison.


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And then proceeded on up to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin.  Growing up, I went to overnight camp for 8 summers down the county road from Devil’s Lake and camped here with my family.  We climbed the boulders as adventurous kids and grilled lunch out on the beach.  However, it’s been YEARS since I’ve been back.  Upon entering the park, images and memories came flooding back with a warm sense of family and comfort.  We found our camp site and set up the tent, and then drove back down to the beach to make dinner.




The park was busy with families grilling and kids playing ball.  We found some friendly locals who shared their grill.  We whipped up some sweet potatoes and onions and bought some fried fish to share for dinner.




We poured some beer from the growler that we bought in Madison and enjoyed the beautiful summer evening.  After dinner, we took a stroll along the railroad tracks.


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Just as the sun was setting.




Before it got dark, we made our way back to our campsite with one quick stop for graham crackers, chocolate, and mallows : )


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We sat around the campfire eating gooey s’mores and reading a hilarious book of short stories before calling it an early night.




I fell asleep easily in the peaceful woods, and slept better than I had all week.  In the morning, it was time for breakfast (eggs and banana bread), coffee, and tea.  We packed up lunches for a day of hiking.




The plan was to hike around the lake.  We started on the west side along the lakefront path paved and lined with boulders.


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The sky was overcast, but it was a beautiful day for a walk.  The far side of the lake provided a sensational view of the lake and surrounding bluffs.


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We made a quick stop on the far beach, and then continued towards the hills.  There is a steep hike to the top of the east bluffs that leads up to balanced rock.  We were so busy chatting and enjoying our surroundings that we almost missed this famous rock!


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This challenging hike is one of my favorites because there are so many large boulders and steep trails to climb.




Shortly before reaching the top, we stopped for a lunch and rest break.  We found the perfect location overlooking the lake to set up a picnic and chill out with another essay from the book.


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After our rejuvenating break, it was a short climb to the top and the breathtaking areal views of the lake.




We continued walking down along the trail until we returned to the beach.  After a quick nap, we walked back to our camping site for an afternoon snack of popcorn and red wine.




We made dinner over the fire, which was a beautiful salad with lemon, sea salt, avocado, and chicken followed by a few more s’mores.  Let me tell you…we really do eat well on our camping trips!




Saturday evening’s Devil’s Lake entertainment was live music and a swing dance at the chateau.  We drove down to the beach to check it out.  We met some new friends to share a drink and a laugh with and then returned back to camp.  During our second night under the stars, there was a rain storm, which was soothing in the peaceful night.  We awoke to our third day of sunshine throwing together breakfast with our leftover food.




We combined potatoes, apple, avocado, spinach, and eggs with lime juice.  It was amazing!  We had thoughts about a morning run, but instead made our way back to Madison for a Wisco beer stop and then returned home Sunday afternoon.  The ride home was a mix of weekend stories and future plans.  This weekend away was exactly what I needed.  Although I missed talking to the BOY, it was fantastic to get away, power down, and rest up before the excitement of summer.

I’m already looking forward to my next camping trip.  Anyone want to go with me???

Five For Friday V

1. I am so excited for this weekend’s camping trip!  After a raiding my parent’s house and a trip to Costco, I needed help unloading my car with all of our supplies.




2. My new summer schedule officially begins on Monday.  This week was a busy but easy transition.  One day I even got to eat my lunch outside at Starbucks, which was such a huge treat for the girl who never gets to leave the office during the day!




3. I have been having a tough time sleeping this week.  This seems to happen around life changes (ie when I was moving back from Memphis).  However, last night I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow and although up earlier than I would have liked this morning, I finally felt well rested. 



4.  I am in charge of breakfast for the camping trip.  I am bringing eggs and spinach and made Paleo Banana-Walnut Bread that I can’t wait to dig into and Date Bars.





5.  After two trials last weekend, I created an awesome Nutella Puppy Chow.  It’s doesn’t have the strongest Nutella flavor, but the combo of peanut butter and Nutella is addicting. However, I need to go finish packing, so the recipe will just have to wait!





Hope you have a great weekend! I will be enjoying my first

Friday off camping in Wisconsin with these girls!

Backpacking Recap Day 2

You can tell that I am in class this weekend because my mind is too fried to come up with more creative blog titles…ha ha!  In case you missed it, here is the Day 1 Recap and the homemade Hiker’s Grub.




We woke up Day 2 in our tent along the river.  We heated up some more water for tea/coffee and then ate breakfast while discussing our plan for the day.  We repacked up our gear and headed back out on the trail.




Only one slight problem…we had no idea which way to go!  Somehow the day before, we found our way along a side trail with no suspension bridge in site and weren’t exactly sure if we were north or south of the bridge.  Our map was not so helpful, but luckily during breakfast some kayakers paddled past our tent and were able to point us in the right direction.  We easily made our way back to the main trail laughing at how hard it would have been to miss the well marked trail, but all agreeing that this was the BEST mistake ever because it led us to our stellar camp site.




Back in the forest…along the trail…and making our way to the suspension bridge….



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The first sighting…




Brought much excitement!  We crossed the bridge and began our hike south along the Manistee River Trail.


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At the north end, the trail followed closely along the river and then zigged and zagged through the forest and back to the river.  We joked about all of the ‘ecosystems’ that we saw throughout our hike.




One of my favorite sites was the waterfall!




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Midday, we stopped for lunch along a ledge overlooking the river.




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Don’t you wish your lunch view always looked like this?




After lunch, we proceeded north.  This side of the river was filled with stunning views and interesting people!




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We kept our eyes open for the perfect camp site, but didn’t find anything near the river.  Instead, we found ourselves 11 miles back south right where we started, feeling tired and hungry.  We were able to trade some muffins for a few beers and set up our camp site for dinner. 


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And a little more Beth Cooper with Peanut Butter Chocolate deliciousness!




After hiking ~23 miles with all of our gear in 2 days, we were pretty exhausted.  We slept well although our popular camp site near the Dam was not nearly as peaceful and serene as Day 1’s river site.

Backpacking Recap Day 1

I love camping!  It has been years since I have slept under the stars in a tent, which is why I was so excited for our Labor Day backpacking weekend.  I should explain that I spent 8 summers at overnight camp in Wisconsin, and the highlight was always our canoe and camping trips. 





Somewhere (most likely in my parents basement), I think that I have these memorable trips documented in non-digital pictures, which would be fun to share.  However, I do have this old picture of my BFF and I at camp, circa 1994-ish.  Man, those were the days!


Back to 2012, I was super excited to hit the trails with my girlfriends.  My brother had some gear for me to borrow.  Although his first question was…how did you convince the BOY to go camping?  Like that would ever happen…the BOY spent the weekend comfortably in his lazy boy while the girls and I roughed it in Michigan.




We drove up Friday afternoon, stopping for dinner and beer at the New Holland Brewery.  We arrived at the trailhead late on Friday night and set up our camp site under the blue moon. 




Early Saturday morning, we awoke to a crisp morning with steam hovering over the river.




Breakfast was served and water was heated for coffee and tea.


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We took down our camp and prepared for our first day of hiking…which meant filling water bottles and applying temporary tattoos.




We drove to the trailhead where we parked our car, arranged our bags, and studied the map.


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With bags in tow, we began our backpacking adventure…but first, we had to decide which direction to go!


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We decided on the NCT trail heading north through the woods along the switchback hills and through the dense green woods.


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We stopped for lunch at a scenic part of the trail.  We made PB sandwiches with fig jelly and bananas.  They were super tasty and  satisfying!




And then laid back to relax with a some ‘I Love You, Beth Cooper!’, a hilarious book even if you aren’t from Illinois!


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We returned to the trail making our way north in the direction of the suspension bridge.


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There were some beautiful views of the forest, creeks, and bridges along the way…and I was happy to have my camera ready!




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After walking through the forest for ~12 miles, the trail finally made its way to the river bank.  We followed a path down towards the river, which was gorgeous, still heading towards the suspension bridge where we would cross the river.






There were people fishing and camping along the other side of the river, but our bank was quiet.




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We discovered the perfect camp site at the edge of the river, and decided to stay for the night, especially since the suspension bridge was no where in site.




In the next few hours, we set up our tent, went for a swim, took a nap, collected fire wood, made dinner, did some yoga by the river, read more Beth Cooper, made a fire, and then ate one of the best desserts EVER, chocolate peanut butter Jello No-Bake.






By the end of the day, I collapsed into the tent and slept wonderfully with the sound of the river lulling me to sleep!  Which was good…because we had a whole another day of hiking ahead of us!