NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wintry Morning

Yesterday the temperature was only 43F but there wasn't any wind and the sun was shining so it was a perfect day to go for another hike.  I also had a new sleeping bag I needed to test out so I thought it would be a good time to make my first trip to Mauthe Lake campground in the North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.  I usually stay in the South Unit because it's about an hour from home but I drove the extra hour because I've been curious and Mauthe Lake is one of the Wisconsin State Park campgrounds that does stay open year round.

Mauthe Lake is a large campground with 135 sites, including a teepee. Most of them are on the smaller side and only 36 have electric.  There is a modern (really clean, one of the newer facilities, but unheated) shower building in the 300 loop and I set my tent up there in case I wanted the luxury of flush toilets in the night.  But with a forecast of an overnight low of 27....I didn't plan on getting up to "go" and skipped my usual water bottle in the tent.

Only one other site was taken, I think guys out on a hunting trip, and when I first settled in with my new bag rated for 30F I thought I might be fine.  I even took my old sleeping bag and threw it over the top of me, and wore insulated Columbia sweatpants to bed with Smartwool socks and a Smartwool long sleeve shirt.  I read on my Kindle for awhile and even though I wasn't as warm as I would have liked I managed to fall asleep around 11:00 p.m.

But, alas, the bag was not doing it, extra "help" or not.  I woke frequently, once with my teeth chattering.  Almost every time I heard coyotes, and once I woke up to hear some animal pawing through leaves at my site.  Probably a raccoon wondering why I didn't have a fire and marshmallows like most folks do. When I checked my watch and it was almost 5:00 a.m. I thought enough was enough and dashed out to the car to warm it, and me, up for the morning.  That took almost 20 minutes alone.

It was only another 20 minute drive to the town of West Bend where wonderful things like Starbucks existed.  I took my time and kept my exhausted eyes peeled on the dark road, after all, I'd come upon 3 bucks in the middle of the road the night before who panicked and couldn't make up their mind which way to go while I stopped and they decided.

I got there shortly before 6:00 and couldn't figure out why they were not only closed but why it didn't look like anyone was in there getting it ready for the day.  I mean, I know it was Sunday, but does that really matter at a coffee chain?

I got on my iPhone to find out when they opened...and finally realized I'd forgotten about the time change.  They opened at 5:30 alright, but apparently I'd been up since 4:00...not 5:00.

What else was there to do but sit in the dark parking lot and wait another half hour?  I used the time to catch up on 3 blogs that I read (man that print is small on the iPhone...) before going in and ordering a hot water to make my decaf Chai.  Oh yes, all that hassle for a cup of hot water, folks!  I did buy a slice of lemon loaf too for later on because I'd eaten my breakfast out of my lunch box in the car.  Hikers need more than sugar.

small pond freezing over

Speaking of decaf tea, I ordered quite the variety from David's tea the other day.  A tea spree, if you will.  The flavor my sister-in-law gave me when we were in Newfoundland is almost gone and they have a kick-ass selection of rooibos, which is my favorite.  If you buy $50 you get free shipping, even though it's shipping from Canada to the U.S.

I ended up timing it perfectly.  After I left Starbuck's I got to Kewaskum and then Mauthe Lake just in time for sunrise light on all the frost coated plants.  I'm not sure if that makes it all worth it, but at least it's something!  I'll definitely be sending that sleeping bag back for something rated for colder weather.  I saw some stuff at the Ice Age visitor center yesterday where I toured the facility and went for a hike, and then of course I hiked the Ice Age trail this morning after the sun came up.  For now just enjoy the frosty post and I hope your night and morning were warmer than mine!


  1. I was chilled before I started to read this (it has dropped to 57 here in Boulder City, NV) but now I am officially cold having completed your post. Brrrr...yes, you need something warmer for sure!

  2. It's a chilly 37 here but of course I am inside looking out. Your frosty close ups are gorgeous! I just hate this stupid time change and cannot figure out why I am the only one who ever seems to rant about it or ask 'WHY are we doing this'.

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  4. Nice frost pics! You are a hardy person for camping in subfreezing temps. Not my cup of tea! (Chai or otherwise) :)

  5. Geez, now you're keeping my kind of hours! But 5 am seems a lot different in a nice warm room than it would in a freezing tent or car.