Backpacking in the Chequamegon National Forest

This weekend was a 2 1/2 day backpacking trip in the Chequamegon Forest! I tried to find a map of the forest to see where we hiked overall in the forest, but the maps I found on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest are divided into sections. I found out that the Chequamegon is 858,400 acres and the Nicolet is 661,400 acres for around 1.5 million acres of national forest! My Ice Age Trail map zooms in pretty far, so it’s hard to see the overall distance. The total mileage over the three hikes on my GPS watch says 29.67 miles!!!

Carol came along with Jared, Penny, and me for her first backpacking trip. We left Friday afternoon and before we could even get to our destination there was excitement along the interstate. We passed a car on fire just north of Stevens Point. The police and fire department arrived a bit before we passed. Our hike would be along the Jerry Lake and Lake Eleven Segments in Taylor County north of Medford.

We got hiking around 6 and did 7.3 miles arriving at our campsite around 9:15. I had a new headlamp to try out that I was planning to use on the Appalachian Trail in October. Penny did a pretty good job with the night hiking. We got out tents set up quickly and had a fire. While Jared and I hung the bear bag, Penny tried to get closer to us and pulled her leash into the fire and burned it into two pieces. Luckily it was just the cord part and could be tied together. It was still useable, but didn’t retract all the way in due to the knot. I got to sleep a little before midnight. Penny started out sleeping in one spot, but then created a puddle from water on her body and didn’t want to sleep in that spot anymore. She ended up moving to another spot. Luckily we had a big tent. We brought my REI half dome 4, which at 6 pounds is pretty heavy for backpacking. Penny wouldn’t fit in the quarter dome 2 tent with Jared and me. Carol was using the quarter dome 1, so Jared couldn’t sleep in that.

On Saturday we slept in and moved slowly so that we didn’t start hiking until almost 11:00. Saturday’s hike was probably the toughest of them all. There were a decent amount of hills and the second day with a pack can be hard. I have a hard time finding the right spot to wear my pack on my hips, so I was adjusting things quite a bit for the first couple hours. There’s some things that really annoy me about the way my pack feels and I have a hard time ignoring it. The day was a lot hotter than expected and we all sweated a lot. Penny enjoyed playing in the water along the way. We camped for the night on a hill above Lake Eleven. The days mileage total was 11.82. Jared and I did an extra mile going to get water that didn’t have a strong dirt taste. We went to bed a bit earlier. Penny was very tired and went into the tent early. She tried a few times to fluff my sleeping bag and pad, so I had to take it out until I went into the tent. Once in there, she chose to sleep right by my head. She has never slept that close to me! Most of the night though she was sleeping with her feet by me. She didn’t smell too good, lucky for her I love her and will deal with stinky dog smell.

Today we got up at 7 and we’re hiking by 8:40. I really need to work on getting ready quicker. I’m always doing something, so I don’t know how to get quicker. I need to be more efficient though. I felt pretty good after getting into the first mile. My quads and IT bands felt tight. I loosened up as we went along and kept a good pace the entire way. I checked my watch a lot today for the distance. I was tired, and I always seem to check the distance a lot when I tired. I tolerated the annoying feel of my backpack a little more today. The AT trip is about two weeks away, and I need to figure out what clothes I want to wear. I don’t want to wear the zip off pants I wore this weekend. They’re a little big and there’s lots of seams in the waist area, so it’s uncomfortable with the waist strap. The legs are also a bit tight because of the zippers. I’ve been wearing a hiking skort a lot, and I think I’ve just gotten used to that. If I take the skort I will need to find a base layer or thin pair of packable pants to wear when we’re at the camp site at night.

Penny hiked with me a bit today, she was hooked up to my waist strap. Usually Jared takes her, but be needed a break. Penny needed a lot of encouragement to jump over the fallen logs rather than going under them. It was fun to watch her make decisions. She didn’t like it when Carol or Jared got ahead of us, she prefers to be the “lead sled dog”. To keep her moving, I told Carol to go ahead of us. She tried very hard to catch up. Sometimes she was on Carol’s heels. One time she was behind Jared and I watcher her attempt to get past him. I could see her using strategy and when she finally passed him she looked up at him with a smile.

I was glad to finally get to the car. Our mileage for Sunday was 10.54. Our total hiking time for the weekend was 13 hours and 7 minutes! Penny did a great job this weekend. This is her biggest weekend so far! I don’t think we could do much more with her though. That old girl really is quite the endurance athlete! It makes me wonder how far I could have taken her when she was younger.

Now after sitting in the car, I’m feeling really stiff. Both IT bands are tight. Is this what it feels like to get old?


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