Thursday, June 28, 2012

Slow summer down

Summer is upon us in full swing - the days are the longest they will be all year, the average temperature is rising, the humidity continues to increase, as does the frequency of summer weddings, festivals, reunions, vacations, and get-togethers. In short, the outdoors have never been more appealing.

Most of these summer events are fun, social, fulfilling activities that folks around here have hard-earned after weathering yet another long winter. Leaping from weekend to weekend though, with each week seeming to be more booked than the last, is what concerns me. Letting these few golden months slip past seems like a waste to me, and to remedy it, I propose the following.

Slow summer down.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

To pitch a tent

And the battle with the winged wolves

Last weekend I went camping with a few good friends on some private land adjacent to my favorite lake, the great Lake Superior. We had been checking the weather every day that week and were well aware of the storms we were about to subject ourselves to. However, we couldn't wait to get our journey underway and decided to head north anyway. Our trip up Highway 13 was highlighted by a black bear and a quail trailed by its chicks along the roadside, and foreshadowed by dark clouds gathering in the west. We hoped to outrun the rain and make camp in relative peace and harmony, but that didn’t quite happen.

Upon arrival my comrades and I were nearly stricken from the woodland cliff under sheets of rain, but we had come prepared and immediately began construction of a not-so-intricate tarp canopy. We strung ropes from everything available. Ropes from tree trunks, tree branches, a cinderblock, a rotten post, even a kitchen sink (I’m not kidding). The process proved to be more like sailing than camping, as the large tarps turned out to be better designed to catch wet gusts than keep us dry in wind topping 30 mph. Somehow though, between tying knots, shouting at one-another, and getting soaked to the bone, the three of us managed to construct a dripping, unstable, hem-haw excuse of a shelter to set up tents beneath; high-fives ensued.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Outdoor exercise as enrichment

Creating a Northwoods exercise routine

Before we start, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Seth Carlson and I was born in Park Falls in 1987. I grew up in a family that like many others in this area holds outdoor skills as a deeply ingrained, cultural tradition. My father taught me how to hunt, fish, trap, hike, camp, canoe, swim and make a lot of noise if I saw a bear. I learned how to dress in layers and check lake ice in the winter. I learned how to ignore mosquitoes while fishing and get over a fear of spiders in the summers.

The funny thing is, I took all those experiences for granted. It took a seven-year journey of living in other areas of the Midwest for me to appreciate what the Northwoods has to offer – the great outdoors.

This piece is the first in a series of stories meant to highlight ways in which residents of this area can take advantage of the natural resources surrounding us. I do not pretend to be an expert with any of this, just a student. I am always learning new things in the woods, just enough to get by, just enough to be woodsman enough.