Hiking with Tourists

AKA: Walking along Wooded Paths and Stepping aside Every Few Yards to Make Way for Others

AKA: Pictures of Banjo’s Butt

Tracy’s graciously done a lot of research to find us things to do each day, not that we’re bored, but we do want to take advantage of northern Wisconsin and Michigan while we’re up here. Our next venture will be south to Texas to take care of overdue paperwork, and we’ll be in a hurry to get in and out, so that will be all business. Time now for pleasure.

The problem here in the north is that everyone has the same idea. I’ve mentioned before that campgrounds are full and camping equipment is sold out. The bummer-est thing though is that hiking trails are crowded.

Here’s a run-down of where we’ve been hiking here in northern Wisconsin, not that you’ll care to know the particulars, but I’d like to remember what these photos are of, other than the backsides of Tracy and Banjo.

Houghton Falls

A little north is a sweet, mile-long wooded trail out to a large sandstone gorge and lake promontory. It’s a spot visited historically by natives and settlers. Also, tourists.

They like to jump off the rock while someone takes pictures and then swim around to climb up and out on the shallow side. Thus taking up all the available space on the promontory so anyone who wants to social-distance is screwed.

Here I’m trying to ignore a couple really near us on precipitous rock with their beer bottles and little dog. Yep, glass bottles.

I did very much enjoy the SLOCK sound that the water makes when it rises up under hollowed-out spots of rock. And the trail was lovely, winding through forest that grew in after early logging. Lots of paper birch and fir and white pines.


We drove to this nearby shore town just to see what’s up. It’s known to be a tourist town, but masks are required and we’re in a pandemic, so how bad could it be?

This photo of the town’s harbor is deceptive; there are crowds of people behind us, and, just minutes after I took it, crowds in front. Walking places like this is like being in a city, except that all the people you’re trying to navigate around are gawking at the view and eating ice cream while walking, plus they’re in large families that group together and argue, and they’ve got multiple dogs. Fun stuff.

We did find a shady spot where we watched the ferry come and go to nearby Apostle Islands, plus lots of charter boats. Then the mosquitos found us and we skeddadled back to the truck.

Thank goodness on our walk back we spotted a sign for the historic jail and followed it to a local wooded trail away from the shops and restaurants and tourists (the jail was cool, too, just not pictured here).

The trail was a short little walk in the woods and under an historic bridge, and we didn’t see anyone on it!

These are by far better hikes than the scenic ones on the map.

We did spy a “stealth camper,” a guy in a van with no windows (yes, those guys have been “stealth camping” for decades) but this one looked like he’s following the trend right now of living outside campgrounds in a renovated van with a bed and small kitchen inside, plus his two big dogs and a motorbike attached. He’d parked by this trail and was pulling out plastic storage bins from under his bed at the back. These folks are fascinating. I tried not to stare.

(The guy who sold us our Airstream is big into #vanlife and has a YouTube channel about it; here’s his recent video tour of someone’s very pretty and creative stealth van, if you’re interested.)

Copper Falls

Verdict: Still lots of people on the trails and at overlooks, but the dramatic falls were worth it.

Here two rivers converge to create this massive gorge under us, with a perpetual rainbow at the bottom corner.

Although there are copper mines nearby (thus the name), the water is orange due to tannin, not copper. It’s wild.

We managed to find a large rock off the trail (but still beset by people and their dogs) and sat down to enjoy a picnic of smoked fish.

It wasn’t easy keeping Banjo close (and not slipping into the raging river), balancing ourselves and our plates on the rock, and passively fending off people looking for their own spots by the river. What a pretty place though, the trail following the river so you can hear the falls when you can’t see them. Worth it.

Plus, you know, smoked fish. I am in absolute love with tender lake whitefish.

Hidden Creek Falls

Again with the beautiful trails, well maintained with plank walkways over wet areas and plenty of signs, but also plenty of tourists. People shouting, whistling, throwing water bottles in the air, running.

These falls are smaller and less dramatic than Copper Falls but prettier, with a symmetric trickle all around and a cave behind.

Better yet though, we found a snowmobile trail off the posted hiking trail—away from people—so we walked along that until we found a sandy bank by a smaller creek and sat in the shade for another smoked fish picnic. Banjo got to get in the water here then lay down in the cool sand while we ate.

Our Trail to the Lake

This is my favorite. It goes directly from the back of our campsite for just a few yards to a spot where we can put in the kayaks, the inflated tubes for lounging, or just our own feet. I like to stand here knee-deep in the water and watch the sky and its reflection change as the sun sets.

I find it ironic that all these gorgeous hiking trails and historic towns are around us, but my favorite thing to do is stand behind the trailer and look out at the lake. This girl who grew up in the woods chooses water instead because it means solitude

2 thoughts to “Hiking with Tourists”

  1. Maybe when school starts, things will quiet down a bit. Even if kids are doing virtual school, they’ll need good wifi.

  2. love the rainbow and the bright, bright, blue skies. Exquisite! I think Susan is right with things quieting down soon with school coming.