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A Chilly and Snowy Fall Visit to the Cottage and UP Waterfall Chasing


Day 2

Meadow had a few days off from school and I have a few days of PTO to use so we took a fall trip to the cottage. We arrived on Tuesday evening. Wednesday happened to be our 9th Anniversary. It's tradition to have crepes for breakfast but we didn't have any milk. Waffle mix it is.

Though we've only been married nine years we've actually been together for almost 15 years. I think that number matters a lot more than a legal document celebrating a party we had six years after meeting.

We went from summer weather the week before to winter this week. Today called for on and off rain. Eventually we made it outside. My dad had apparently already brought in the docks and boat for the winter.

With the weather we had this weekend, it was probably for the best.

Only a little bit of fall color was left in the cottage woods.

Where's the adult swings?

Swinging is for kids, Brooke.

You're never too old to swing.

Meadow wanted a leaf pile. Theo decided he'd help rake.

The first pile wasn't good enough. Meadow and Scott had me move it to the front of the swingset.

That was much better.

Happy girl.

Scott was bored so we took a little road trip to see the General MacArthur Pine. It took us awhile to get there taking all the National Forest roads. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. 

Our new National Forest map showed it as a point of interest. Not sure the remains of a once great tree were worthy of that label.

Somehow the tree was missed during the logging days and was apparently 400 years old. This was the largest white pine tree in the US until it was hit by lightening in the 1970's when 40 feet was taken off the top. It was hit again in 1986. It still stood standing until 2001 when another fire finally took it down. 

A suspicious fire. Someone burned it down.

Would have been so cool to see it still standing.

We'll likely never see a tree this big in the Wisconsin Northwoods in our lifetime. At least I don't think we'll live a few hundred more years.

At least they kept part of it to show how big around it was.

We found a Trump flag buried under the leaves. Thanks for littering Trumpers.

So patriotic. So much winning.

We had to get gas in nearby Laona. Then we drove down to Wabeno in hopes of finding a historic site. We couldn't figure out where it was so we let the kids play on the playground in town instead.

We also got pic with Larry the Logroller.

Day 3
When we were last here over Labor Day weekend we had a hard time finding a place to hike in the Nicolet National Forest. 

I think it had more to do with Brooke and Blake not being able to make up their minds.

I had hoped to find a book of hiking trails. Instead I found a detailed map that included all the trail heads, campsites, ski trails and points of interest. 

We decided to hike the Lauterman Trail on the far northeast corner of the national forest. This trail is also used for mountain biking and cross country skiing.

We kept running into really deep muddy patches and decided to turn around. A map at the trail head showed another trail nearby that we thought we would try instead.

The Ridge Trail begins right when you turn into the Chipmunk Rapids campground. This trail was much drier and the path is a lot narrower. 

There were a few people staying at the nearby camground, but we didn't see a single soul on the trail. 

It also ended up being much more scenic than the bit of the Lauterman Trail we were on near Chipmunk Rapids.

Too bad we weren't here 2 weeks ago.

It was still beautiful.

We headed towards the Pine River Overlook. 

The beginning of the trail navigated through a maple plantation and then up to the overlook atop the Pine River.

Then we kept going up.

I thought I read that it was 2.2. miles. It turned out it was twice that distance around the Ridge Trail.

Part of the trail has you walk along the top of ridges, hence ridge trail.

We just kept on going up higher and higher.

Then Theo suddenly got really sad and would not stop crying until we got back to our car.

I think we were only halfway back. Ugh.

Turns out he was just hungry. Next time we'll pack more snacks. 

Despite the crying toddler, the trail was amazing. Every so often the landscape and trees totally changed.

As we got towards Lost Lake the trees turned to all pines. This was my favorite part.

Parts of the trail have you go down old logging roads. At almost 5 miles for the loop this was one of our favorite hikes in the Nicolet National Forest. Would love to come back other times of the year.

When we arrived back at the cottage my parents were there. We made dinner of shrimp, grits and fried green tomatoes.

Brooke's parents had never heard of such a thing. They're such Wisconsinites.

Day 4

Our next adventure brought us to Upper Michigan. I found a map that had 100 waterfalls in the UP. I found a cluster we could go to for the day. My dad joined us and my mom stayed back, she claimed it was too cold to go outside.

We're only about 45 minutes from the UP border. So, why not?

Today was supposed to be sunny and a high of 40. While driving the clouds kept getting darker. When we arrived at Yondota Falls it started snowing.

We weren't expecting falls this big.

A big group of ATVers arrived just behind us.

The falls just kept on going.

Meadow was having lots of fun and didn't want to leave. It was a fun place to explore.

The falls were raging.

There was a little creek we had to cross to get a better perspective. It looked like all the creeks had filled up from the downpour last week that caught the entire Upper Midwest.

The snow really started coming down as we headed back to our car.

It was magical.

Gosh it was beautiful.

Theo already knows what to do.

Onto the next one.

Next we tried to go to Judson Falls but the way in wasn't clear. Here's the only directions we found:

"Go north for 2.8 miles along Stage Coach Road, driving towards Lake Gogebic from US-2. Pull off on the two-track on the left side of the road. Drive or walk down the muddy two-track, depending on the time of year and your vehicle, sticking to the main ungated road past multiple forks. 1.7 miles from Stage Coach Road take the less traveled right fork northwards for a few hundred yards before cutting down to the river to the west. Falls are downstream just before the river valley opens up and starts getting swampy."

Regardless of the bad directions, we didn't really want to drive or hike down the muddy road.

We decided to pass on that one and went over to Kakabika Falls.

First there were rapids.

And then the big falls.

The intense water made it all the better.

Like the other falls it started snowing pretty hard as we were walking back.

What.a perfect, if not way too early, fall snowfall.

There was two more I had hoped to see but it was already getting late. There's always next time.

Goodbye, UP waterfalls. Maybe we'll see you again come New Years.

With the sun setting earlier we headed back for dinner and pumpkins.

Apparently both my kids are afraid to touch the guts.

They're icky. dontcha know.

Theo didn't want to carve his but after seeing Meadow's he asked to make his baby's face.

Perfect. Good job, Grandpa.

Day 5
Since we stole dad to go chase waterfalls, we made it up by helping him with some chores. We spent the day cutting up some wood for our winter fires.

Meadow and Theo only lasted a little bit playing with the snow.

It's weird when there's snow on the ground but the lake has no ice in sight.

A few people still had boats out.

These kids are always goofs, but by the end of the day the wood shed was full. Well as full as we can get it next to the Bobcat.

Day 6
On our last morning my dad showed off his pancake skills by making shaped pancakes.

R2D2 for the Star Wars lover.

On our drive back to Minneapolis on Highway 8 we always pass someone selling eggs out of a cooler at the end of their driveway. As we were turning around to get some, someone else was selling huge bags of apples for $5. 

We didn't have the right change for just one bag or the eggs. So, we settled on two giant bags of apples. During the ensuing week we made apple dumplings, apple sauce and are starting to get sick of apples.


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