Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Week 2, Gone Camping

As I posted back in January, I'm looking for an adventure for my sabbatical.  It turns out, a couple of my cousins do some backpacking, and so they're arranging a short backpacking weekend in Yosemite!

But I'm unsure: unsure if I can be fit enough, unsure if I know what to do, and so on.  But a friend of mine suggested some "backpacking lite" as she called it.  The idea is that we'd take a ferry to an island where you then backpack a short distance to campsites, and then you're done with the carrying a pack, and just hike around.

One place that works really well for this is Rock Island State Park, up in Wisconsin.  So that's where we went.
 We drove and drove and drove, eventually getting on a ferry to Washington Island.  We drove across Washington Island, parked the car, got our gear, and then took a people (and gear) ferry to Rock Island.  And there we were, on Lake Michigan!  It's amazingly clear!

We went on Friday, and got settled and went for a short walk Friday.  We made dinner (dehydrated backpacking food because we wanted to try it).  And then it started raining.  A LOT.

But the next day, we walked to the Lighthouse and went on a tour, and then walked some more, over 8 miles total.  And then there was thunder and lightning.
Before the rain, though, I did have a chance to take a couple pictures, including a selfie in Lake Michigan.  The water IS amazingly clear, but oh so cold!
 Sunset over "Michgan Ave," the main trail from our camping spot to the boathouse.

All in all, we had a great time.  We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, walked more than 8 miles both Saturday and Sunday, and about 4 each on Friday and Monday.  I learned that I shouldn't forget hot cocoa!  But my little stove worked great, and one fuel cannister lasted the whole time.

I also learned that I need to get better long pants for camping.

One of the best parts for me was that I got to see a LOT of migrant birds!  The trees weren't as leafed out as they are further down south, and so it was way easier to see birds.  (I usually miss that part of the migration period because I'm grading.)  I got really good views of Red-eyed Vireo, also Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warblers, Redstarts, Indigo Buntings, a flying snow goose, and some more common birds (Grey Catbirds, for example, and Ring-billed Gulls, and Double-crested Cormorants).

And now, back in the North Woods, and making a list of the things I want to get accomplished this coming week!

I really, really need to get more exercise to try to be ready to go to Yosemite!


  1. Yosemite has some really gentle hikes (including to the big waterfall) and you can stick to places that have buses (or parking). It really is one of the most beautiful places in the US.

    1. I can't wait! Part of the impetus for our backpacking trip is that I want to try backpacking, and my cousins are willing. One goes hiking in Yosemite pretty much every year.

  2. Wow, the water looks great!

  3. I can't believe how clear the water is!

    Yosemite is great, and I think you'll do fine. Just do some hikes and uphill walking now and then to keep the legs and lungs in shape.

    I did an overnight hiking and camping trip in Yosemite quite a while back, and coming down was the hardest part (because of the pressure on my knees). You might want a walking stick or at least some knee protection/support for on the way down. But Yosemite is amazing!

  4. I love that you've already had your first sabbatical adventure! Fabulous way to enter into the sabbatical spirit.