Brill to Weyerhaeuser: A camping and backpacking weekend

I spent two and a half days in the woods and it was great! On Friday Jared and I took off from work and drove to northern Wisconsin. It rained until we got north of Eau Claire and then cleared up and got sunny. We hiked between Rice Lake and Weyerhaeuser.

Friday’s hike started at Murphy Flowage Recreation Area in Rusk County. This portion of the trail was the Hemlock Creek Segment, and it took us west into Barron County. The segment ended and we had a bit of road walk to do. The next portion of trail was on the Tuscobia State Trail, which was the Tuscobia Segment. Parts of this trail is open to four wheelers, and that part is kind of annoying because the trail is rutted up and isn’t nice trail for walking. Along the way there were times when the Ice Age Trail got off the main state trail and there was a footpath alongside in the right of way area. After awhile we got to a portion of the state trail that was only for hiking or horseback riding. This section was nicer. We ended in Brill, which is where we had started a previous hike back in the winter when I had really bad IT band pain. The day’s total was around 14.9 I wanted to get a nice even 15 miles, but I was too tired to walk up and down the road until I got to 15.

We drove back to Murphy Flowage to set up camp for the night. We stayed at the campground, which is a first come first serve campground. It has 9 sites, pit toilets, access to the river, and is pretty nice. The nightly fee is $18 for non-electric. Friday night’s entertainment consisted of trying two MREs. We had a beef stew meal and grilled chicken meal. Each meal had sides some of them were mashed potatoes, crackers, corn bread, and a strawberry shake. It was all pretty disgusting! The instructions said to place the food and the heating element on an angle against a “rock or something”. We chose to lean it against “something”. Todd arrived while we were experimenting. He was hiking with us for the weekend and was sleeping in his van for the night. We were in a tent. The temperature was forecasted to be a low of 36. For the night, I used my sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner, blanket, down blanket from Todd, thick socks, thicker pants, a shirt with heat reflective technology, my fleece, and hand warmers in the sleeping bag. I was warm all night, except when my head wasn’t covered by the sleeping bag.

On Saturday Todd got started right away while Jared and I shuttled the vehicles. We started at Murphy Flowage and headed east. We finished the Hemlock Creek Segment and started the Northern Blue Hills Segment. It was another nice day, sunny at times and cool. We passed a lot of water, including lakes dammed up by beavers. About 7 miles in Jared pointed at something and got excited. I thought we would see a bear or something, but it was just Todd, we had caught up to him. Jared snuck up behind him and scared the crap out of him. We continued on for another mile and then took a break. I was feeling pretty tired and very hungry. We were carry a lot more gear since we would be sleeping along the trail that night, and it was wearing me out. We had a long lunch and I tried out my new Sawyer squeeze water filtration system. I had used about half of my water, so I replenished what I drank. We continued on our way, did a short road walk, took another break, and then started on the Southern Blue Hills Segment.

Both Blue Hills segments were pretty hilly. I was really dragging the last few miles and was glad to finally get to the site. The total mileage for Saturday (with about 25 pound pack) was 16.9. We were staying at a DCA (dispersed camping area) along the trail. It was near a small lake called North Lake and we had a nice view. As we started to set up the tent, I found the dehydrated ice cream sand which I had packed. It was the best ice cream sandwich I have ever had even though it was dehydrated! We got a few things set up and then Todd arrived.

Supper for the night was dehydrated chicken and dumplings, which is my favorite dehydrated meal. We had a campfire and I was feeling so tired, but wanted to wait for the sunset. The sunset had just a bit of color, but with the clouds rolling in from some rain, it looked pretty neat. After a few pictures, the rain started to fall on the lake and I was getting ready to head into the tent, but be rain never got to us. The radar showed rain, but we didn’t feel anything.

I still headed to bed though, I was exhausted. The night was going to be cold, but not as cold as Friday night. I didn’t have all the layers I had the night before, but still enough to keep me warm. I woke up a bunch of times thought and didn’t sleep all that great. In the middle of the night I got up to go to the bathroom and Jared said a beaver was slapping his tail in the lake and the water was hitting our tent. We were about 20 feet from the water and not too far from his dam, so he was apparently mad we were there.

This morning I got up around 7, ate a bit for breakfast, and got packed up. We were probably hiking by a little after 8. Today we had about 6 miles to do, three on the trail and three on the road. I felt tired and sore, but loosened up after awhile. The trail was hilly again, but not as much as the last couple days. We finished up the Southern Blue Hills and started on the road walk. I picked up speed after awhile and walked pretty fast. I just wanted to be done and the road was pretty boring. I arrived in Weyerhaeuser and photographed some tulips at a little park. I got back to the car, and soon after Jared then Todd arrived.

Overall it was a really nice weekend. It was nice to get away from packing and moving (and the crazy landlord)!

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