Solitude at Moose Lake

We wanted a longer break from civilization, and we got one, involuntarily. But still welcome! 

Moose Lake is in northern Wisconsin, actually in the same National Forest camping area we stayed in last year at Black Lake.  They’re both small, no hook-ups camping loops on lakes dyed with tannin from the surrounding deep forest. 

Which is wonderful. At our campsite, we couldn’t see or hear our neighbors. I could practice learning Dreadful Wind and Rain on the ukulele over and over and over. Banjo had the run of the whole campsite. We sst in our chairs on the bank of the lake with our feet in the cool, dark water.  

Life slowed down and quieted, and so did I. 

The Involuntary Part

Just like at that COE campsite on a lake in Georgia, here we backed the trailer into the site and realized the angle of the hitch means that, if we unhitch, we won’t be able to rehitch.  

So we were faced with a decision: ditch this isolated site on the lake and find a less awesome one that happens to be open, or stay here and keep the truck hitched up.  Which means no leaving the campground for groceries, no beer run, no driving out to find cell service. But of course we picked staying! 

It also meant we were stuck with our flat tire that we’d gotten while driving down the long gravel road to the campground. The Airstream spare is the same tire though, so easy swap there, in a Walmart on the way out. I’m getting ahead of my story here, though.

(Another diversion: This second time being stuck has prompted us to think about buying a hitch adapter to use in emergencies. What if we had unhitched and then simply couldn’t get the stinger back into the receiving end? Would we have to call a specialty tow truck to drive all the way down this dirt road to get us out? Could we? An adapter would be a pain in the ass to use—we’d have to detach the current hitch from the truck and attach the adapter, so we’d better hope we’re not stopped in the campground road blocking anyone—plus you can go only like 5 miles an hour with it on, so for use only to pull out of a campsite, but maybe it would be less of a pain than the alternative. Stay tuned.)

The Solitude

Our choice to stay was the right one. We foraged from our freezer and our liquor stash and used the weather radio to listen for storms (there were no storms). 

What did we get? Cool air from the shaded woods all around us. Just enough sun coming through to reach the solar panels for the wee bit of electricity we used each day.  

What did we hear? A blanket of quiet so thick that the buzz of deer flies seemed like all the sound that ever was. Then, wind in the tree tops. Loons calling at dawn through the open windows right at the head of our bed.  

It’s true that for a couple of hours each day over the weekend we could hear a family at the little beach right behind us, and they included screaming children and a dog not only off the leash (despite the “no dogs” sign) but also chewing a squeaky toy so incessantly that it drowned out the sound of the screams. Amazing. But, all children must nap, thanks goodness.

Kayaking the Moose

Moose Lake is much larger than Black Lake; Tracy explored it all around. Moose River that feeds into the lake is calm, with overhanging trees and a few hidden rocks under the black water. I stuck to Moose River.

You’re more floating than paddling along it, to soak in the quiet, so the rocks are mild bumps, the river reminding you you’re on it. 

Otherwise your eyes are everywhere.  

A river otter poked his head up long enough to gaze at me, then went back to his business. We watched loons break the water surface then disappear then reappear far ahead.  Bald eagles flew far above us. Signs of beavers were scattered along the banks. 

I miss routine walks in the woods, where you can see seasonal changes and even just daylight changes in the familiar land around you. So each morning and evening I kayaked Moose River until I couldn’t go any farther (too narrow, too shallow) so I could see small changes on the banks. You betcha I looked for moose, too.  

The Last Homely House

I’m pretty sure that’s what Bilbo and Company called Rivendell as they were traveling east to the Misty Mountains.  Rivendell was the last vestige of civilization, the last friendly faces they thought they’d see on a long and uncertain journey. 

So, I realize I keep saying, “This is our last time with friends,” and, “this is our last appointment.  Now we’re heading west.” 

But this really was our last known friendly faces. Tracy’s aunt and uncle and cousin drove more than an hour to our campsite at Moose Lake, bringing not just friendly faces, but lots of love for Banjo, and cookies. 

They came out when we were camped nearby last year, and of course we were all filled with uncertainly about Covid then. We’re lucky to all be here again, trading camping stories.

These folks camp, and I mean camp so that I feel like a noob around them.  They seem to have owned every kind of rv and stayed at every state park and national forest and you name it, for all their lives.  Tracy’s aunt, Kathie, reads this blog, and when I hear bits of her stories I feel entirely self-conscious at being such a young, naive camper. 

They never say a word about what a silly I am though. They petted Banjo, gave us advice on where to get the tire fixed, and took my little house to give to a child they know. I met them only the one time before, but both times Rick began and ended the visit by wandering around the campground checking out the sites and any familiar landscape. And Kathie and Angela talked readily about kids and grandkids and their dogs and their daily walks together. It takes only twice to see a pattern and feel familiar with someone.

I told Banjo as they were leaving that they are our last friendly faces, the Last Homely House.  Now we’re headed to parts unknown. 

2 thoughts to “Solitude at Moose Lake”

  1. 💕💕💕 you are certainly NOT a noob! We loved our time together & look forward to seeing you both soon! Happy trails!!! Love you guys!!! Aunt Kathie

    1. Aunt Kathie, your cookies are in the truck sustaining us as we travel down to Theodore Roosevelt National Park today, looking for a campsite early this morning. Thank you again! (And I fixed the spelling of your name, sorry!)