Thirteen Thousand Steps

One day this week I took a longer than usual walk, for training purposes. Since the first day walking at the Grand Canyon will be at least four hours of descent, I’ve been trying to think of places that would be interesting for the longer training walks. The trails around Hospital Lake fit the description.  Hospital Lake, named for the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital which can be seen from nearly every vantage point around the lake, not only has ski and hiking trails but actually has a very cool bike trail designed and maintained by the Chequamagon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).

ATV trail on old railroad bed

From home, I took the railroad bed ATV trail. Right away I had to take pictures of the fungi and moss. There aren’t a lot of green things growing yet so these plants get top billing. And they are so interesting they deserve it.

Love these colors and textures!
And a bit of color.

A short distance on Hospital Road, and then I ducked into the pine woods where I knew I would intersect with a trail. It’s a small enough area that is fairly familiar to me so I wasn’t concerned about getting lost. My motto is “I’m never lost if I don’t care where I’m going.” So true. And if the goal is to get in as many steps as possible…

All the trails aren’t this wide and smooth. This is one of the ski trails.

In opting for whichever trail looked most interesting, I ended up on some I had not seen before. I discovered that some new trails were being made in the woods by workers with heavy equipment – they weren’t there at the time but there was lots of evidence. Part of this forest is old growth pine – trees which always have me in awe of their size and bearing. Guardians of the forest, who have seen a lot of action.

The guardian and his weapons.
Swans on Hospital Lake

Reaching the lake, I got a glimpse of swans on the far edge, too far for a good picture. I counted five and watched them for a while.  On the way out I did try a couple trails that took me in circles, and again I ended up in places I hadn’t seen before. The area is bigger than I thought. Thirteen thousand steps, for me, is 5.84 miles and I was beginning to feel the strain so I headed home. My sis-in-law met me on the way back and we walked home together.

Hospital Lake – beautiful area for walking, biking or in winter, skiing. Try it if you are ever in Hayward.

“Up North” Rain

Heavy rain! The stream did an overflow on both sides of the newly fortified culvert. More water than expected!

This month I am joining with Five Minute Friday (FMF) Link-Up. It’s a group of writers who write for five minutes following a weekly prompt given Thursday night. This week’s prompt is RAIN, and I know a thing or two about that…

 This is Wisconsin. It rains here, and how! Last Sunday it was a downpour outside as we headed to church. As a car left from the early service we got their space right by the door, but in spite of that we got soaked going in. Everyone in church was wet and shivering.

This is a frequent occurrence in the northwest part of our state. You’ve heard that Washington state is cloudy and rainy and I think Wisconsin is equally so. The small streams and rivers in our town have flooded several times lately and washed out roads making them impassable. The stream flowing through the wetlands on the property where I live swelled and nearly covered the footbridges. Even though one bridge had recently been fortified, the stream rose high enough to make new paths on either side of the culvert. It is wet and has been for the last few years, killing trees that are close to the water.

In spite of it all, I like the rain. Wisconsin is usually green and cool because of it.

As the pastor said last week, “Look out the window at that rain. In three months it will be snow coming down like that!” We have that to look forward to. It’s Wisconsin… just sayin’.

A New Challenge

The experience of going “home” for a visit has several aspects. There are always interesting changes to discover, always some family or friends to connect with, always memories to refresh/rehearse.  But I often find myself wanting to make new memories and enjoy the home territory in a different way.  Isn’t it commonly the case that we don’t take the time to be tourists in the familiar places? I grew up in Hayward, Wisconsin and have visited nearly every year since moving away so it is familiar to me but I needed to have a fun way of seeing it from a new perspective.

Enter the “Lake a Day” challenge.

Northern Wisconsin, although it is not known as the “land of 10,000 lakes” like it’s neighbor Minnesota, has many of the same features. There is a lot of water.  I grew up on one of the prettiest, cleanest, most refreshing lakes in the area and knew it well, but there were many other bodies of water close by that I did not frequent. Every day I am going to find some “water” of a natural kind and get wet in it (not saying how wet, but wet somewhere).  You may travel northern Wisconsin someday and want to check out these great spots.

Day 1: Lake Superior

Lake Superior is as close to being an ocean as a lake can get. It is huge – they don’t call it one of the Great Lakes for nothing.  Unlike an ocean it is fresh water but like an ocean it is big enough for ships, dangerous storms and currents, and it has a fascinating history.

An unplanned stop at Lake Superior – the one foot dip.

On this day my mom and I were on our way to visit a friend who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, just across the border from Superior, Wisconsin.  As we drove close to the harbor at the western tip of Lake Superior we passed a small park where there was access to the water and also a small ship offering tours to visitors. It wasn’t exactly a beach but it appeared that I might be able to reach the water so we pulled in and parked.  As I mentioned earlier, the goal was to get some part of me wet so I found a short path with no barriers and went down to stick a foot in the water.

Lake Superior has many interesting coastal towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin but about the only ones I’ve visited are Duluth/Superior and Bayfield. Madelaine Island, near Bayfield is where my brother’s family has camped for years. I have visited them at the campground there and we had an amazing time leaping into Lake Superior from some rock cliffs.  Unforgettable.

On this day we had a great time visiting with my friend at her house and at her husband’s nearby business, Lake Superior Brewery. The root beer we sampled was really good, as are their other beers. Must be the local water, right?

Spring Up North

NOTHING compares to a fully loaded lilac bush
NOTHING compares to a fully loaded lilac bush

flowers seem more exciting and glorious after 6 months of winter

flowers seem more exciting and glorious after 6 months of winter

hello tulips, glad to see you
hello tulips, glad to see you

I’ve been “up north” waiting to see spring come, hoping I had my timing right. I think it’s here. The children have lessening interest in their schoolwork, rain has made greenness appear everywhere and swollen the ponds and marshes. The woods are full of trilliums and fiddle head ferns. Mosquitoes follow us in clouds and dandelion seeds float in the air like snow. The garden is 80% planted and the reliable onions and radishes are already making their rows visible. Tulips and petunias are in place. And the lilacs have purple buds almost to the point of opening up – one of the things I wanted most to experience. The sun brightens up the horizon at 4:30 am and it’s still light at 9 pm, reminding me that the longest day of the year is less than a month away. It’s spring, but only for a little while.



There are no days to waste, no extra hours in the spring. Last night the weather cleared after an all day rain. My brother had bought seed corn and potatoes and was not willing to wait until today to plant – after all, he had to work at his “other business” during the day and there was no guarantee that it would not rain again. Best to get at it. He could hardly sit still through supper. We planted 12 rows of corn and put up the electric fence to keep the deer from eating the tomato and squash plants. I know it works because I tested it accidentally. The gardens have a good start this year, almost two weeks ahead of last year’s schedule. Hopes are high. It’s hard to realize that it still could freeze and one cold night could set everything back.

But today is beautiful and sunny, alive with birds (and mosquitoes) and plant life. Spring up north, how I have missed it and how wonderful it is. Just sayin’…


garden, with precautions for possible freezing weather (No, no, no!)
garden, with precautions for possible freezing weather (No, no, no!)



Round Lake

I grew up on a small farm in northern Wisconsin – a place where  nature is not all that friendly to farmers.  Summers are short and cool, winters are seem endless with lots of snow and cold weather.  The area is kept alive by tourism and is a playground for hunters, fishermen, outdoor sports enthusiasts and others who just want to get away from the larger cities in Wisconsin and nearby Minnesota.  I is a land of lakes and I have been on many of them, but my favorite is Round Lake.  Others will say the same.

A road winds past my childhood home, around a small pond and climbs a wooded hill. I spent a lot of time looking at that hill from the front yard and from my second story bedroom window.  At some early point I must have seen some people on horseback riding up the hill at a gallop because I recollect a romantic notion of there being a castle up there waiting for knights to arrive on their steeds.  My family later became friends with the people on the hill since they had children close to our ages.  The hill became Kendall’s Hill and we also came to know their cousins who did indeed visit them on horseback.

For some reason today I started thinking about that hill and the nearby geography and wondered why I had never thought of it in the bigger picture before.  The centerpiece of it, to me, is a beautiful, deep, spring fed lake with a very unimaginative name – Round Lake.  Parts of it might be kind of round, but I would never have named it that.  In many places it has a very rugged, high and steep coastline. People owning those pieces of lakeshore have their log cabins that we can see through the pine trees and long stairs zig zagging down the bank to their boatdocks.

There is another outstanding feature of the lake and that is a peninsula of high ground that circles out into the lake and back toward the shore.  It had to have been connected at one time because there is a sand bar across the narrow space where it doesn’t connect. It has to be dredged for boats to safely cross into Hinton Bay. Hinton Bay, by the way, is almost perfectly round and maybe that’s the part someone was looking at when they named the lake. I would love to know what kind of geologic activity has gone on to form this lake, and its surrounding hills.  I know there was a lot of glacial activity that gouged out some pretty crazy river beds and valleys and  left a lot of rocks of various sizes. Once I found a fairly large Lake Superior red agate in the lake so I’m suspecting a relationship with the Great Lakes chain.

But there are also some fairly flat lands where people have attempted to farm, as my family did.  The pond between my house and the hill had a couple of springs that were probably fed from the same underground reservoir that feeds the lake. We children who skated on the pond in the winter were always afraid to go too near those places we could tell had frozen over last. The pond has gradually become more marshy and filled in with sediment – it may disappear someday but I probably won’t be alive to see it.

Last month I visited the hill and took another one of many pictures, looking out over the pond to my old home. I’m always hit with nostalgia at the view. What a privilege it was to grow up in such a beautiful place. I spent many years drinking that clear, cold well water and eating food grown in that soil so it’s pretty safe to say it is in my bones. I will always be “from” Round Lake and Hayward, Wisconsin.


my old home from the castle on the hill


Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. Submission guidelines are here if you would like to participate.