Memorial Weekend in Northern Wisconsin- gravel, packrafting and more

Out of Rochester late Friday night and heading all the way to Wausau in time for 5 hours of sleep, early alarm for a lap at the 9 mile forest.

On the road again by 9:30 heading north to Eagle River.  Changed and packed in resort parking lot where Kim would be staying to shoot a wedding.  Noon thirty with her family's cottage in Mercer as my final destination.

I thought things were looking good at this point, just 3 miles out of town.

Then my route turned into stuff like that and pretty much stayed that way.  Insanely good.

A couple times it got a little sketchy...  where is the path?  Why is there a sniper tower?

Then I hit a Lake.  In fact, I hit the lake much sooner than I had anticipated.  One of the great things about my lazy ass method of making maps and not double checking them is that sometimes stuff like this geniunely surprises me.  Pretty beautiful surprise.

But then 2 nautical miles of packraft paddling later I was still in the middle of the Lake.  Who the hell didn't notice the 'out' section of this lake was miles from where I started?   90+ total minutes on the lake, all paddling.

Miles of this, somehow even better than before the lake.  How can this exist?

Found the good feeling in this section.  No pressure to go fast or slow but I was flying, out of my own head completely.

Got to the cabin after 7 hours or so and almost immediately jumped in a real kayak with Scott. Then we sat around a campfire and watched the full moon rise.

Sunday morning came fast!

Kim and I rode north from where we would exit the river and explored the good roads.

Then while trying to find a 'back way' into Manitowish Waters on ATV trail I saw a little path off to the right...

and it was all a mixture of singletrack, boardwalks and this...

Really, really cool.  So cool that we were talking about it and about how bikes are just the best way to explore.  Then...

Well, sometimes exploring just leads you to the dump.

We had a great late breakfast and stopped at the gas station.

Then into the river.  Immediately riffles and an incredible density of forearm sized fish presumably heading up to spawn.  Dorsal fins out of the water, darting everywhere.  Incredible experience to be right there with them in the raft in the shallow riffles.

A couple of larger riffles too and then hours of winding river.

We had all our camping gear and food, but we traveled the 10 miles of river too fast.  Decided to get back on the bikes, back to car, head to Wolverine Village to launch our Monday from.

Monday morning I rode Wolverine.

Yes, snow!  

Wolverine is never disappointing.  Totally great out there.  If we had trails like that around here I doubt I'd ride on the road.  1850' of climbing in first 10 miles. The "new" 2012 Flash Carbon is pretty incredible too.  The crankarms are starting to look worn...  good thing, races start this week.  Hope I have enough miles on it.

Next stop 'the gorge' as shown here...   and may as well look there because I never found it this trip.  Made a wrong turn early on and tried to push through to find a new route, but instead just took Kim on wandering circles on 'roads' that clearly see more wolves than humans.

We saw 4 different wolf kills right on our route, wolf and bear scat and two porcupines.  I wonder how close the wolves and bears were, wish we would have seen one.  Interestingly we say 3 dead deer but no actual deer.  I wonder if their behavior differs a bit where there is actual predation vs. down here where only cars really will get them 90% of the year?

It was frustrating never to find the gorge this time but now I have a fuller understanding of the area and all the roads further to the south that I hadn't been on.  I understand that they are ALL dead-ends.  I think we still had fun.


  1. looks like a fun trip Drew, better luck next time on the gorge, now I want to see it :)

  2. Been looking in on your blog since the Mongoose Beast stuff, good reads. Learned three things from this post. 1. You can carry beer that way? Cool! 2. American Flyers-era Costner 'staches are still boss. C. Some people get to have too much fun. Later!

  3. You should go to the gorge and then ride the back way down towards the Porcupines too like I did last year- just don't plan on camping in Porcupines with bikes! I would someday like to see the gorge from the other direction... but I think it's beyond packraft technical on the water to get there.

    Be careful carrying beer that way!

    I may keep the stache all the way to SS USA in August...

    There is always someone having more fun, right?