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Waterfalls and Giant Conifers in the UP and Wisconsin's Northwoods

 We randomly discovered Meadow was off school on a Friday and the weather was supposed to be unseasonably warm. An impromptu trip to the cottage it was.

Gotta get those cottage visits in. It's just about the best way to have fun and avoid COVID.

We passed the 200,000 mileage mark on our car this week. Luckily this little hybrid is still going strong.

I had brought in the car because of noise and it ended up just being a damaged tire. After I got the car I noticed it was just over 200,000 miles. The mechanic took away the joy of the speedometer rolling over.

Since there are many more waterfalls to see in the U.P. we headed back up. Our first stop was Ajibikoka Falls. Google maps took us down this unpaved road to a dead end.

I decided to back up down the road, but avoid the muddy area to the left. 

Only problem was that I went right into the ditch and got stuck.

Every time we tried to get out it just made the tires sink deeper. 

We heard some sawing just down the road, so I went and checked it out before calling a tow truck.  Turns out we were just down the road from a logging operation. 

A few minutes later a nice logger got us out with his big old work truck.

Muddy but free.

We looked at our National Forest map and realized we had gone too far down the road.

Our map showed two different roads that would take you there. The first one had a sign saying closed. The second said open. It didn't look like many cars had taken the road in a while and with our recent car trouble I made Scott pull over.

There was a little parking pull off down the road. Don't worry I was going to stop at that point.

 It didn't seem far so we decided to hike the rest of the way. Luckily we did because the road got worse as we went on.

This was just past where we parked.

At some point we came to an intersection and guessed which road to keep taking.

Well this "road" kind of just ended with baby trees and it was hard to see which direction it was supposed to go.

We took the other road which seemed promising.

The road dead ended as well, so we just followed our GPS and compass to the waterfall by making our own trail.

And we made it! It was definitely a waterfall found in the wild. It didn't look like too many people had been here before.

At least not recently.


We took a short snack break.

Brooke had made the kids worried that an angry bear was going to come out of its den.

Well if we were going to run into a bear it would have been here.

So I checked out the waterfall from up top by myself.


There really wasn't any good views of the waterfall.

Maybe from the otherside that we couldn't get to.

On the way back we were hoping to find the road from the waterfall but it was non existent. We trekked through the woods until we came back to the road we originally started on.

And we were back.

Quick lunch break before the next waterfall. I forget we're close to a time zone difference. My phone said it was an hour later I was worried it would get dark soon.

The next one was much easier and quicker. 

Mex -i-min-e Falls is located in the Burned Dam Campground. I was surprised to see the campground empty as most campgrounds in Minnesota were booked this weekend. 

It looked like a good one if you just want to put your tent down and sleep.

This falls is on the Middle Branch Ontonagon River. We saw a canoe access parking lot up the river. May have to come back with our kayaks. 

Meadow thought the waterfall was too loud, but Theo and Mama didn't mind.

It was getting dark and the other falls we wanted to see looked like a similar story to Ajibikoka.

We weren't hiking in at this point.

We ordered fish fry for us and cheese pizza for the kids from Twelve Pines for takeout. Still gotta support our favorite Northwoods restaurants while we're up here without putting our health at risk.

The next day we headed south to Townsend to see the Cathedral Pines.

I can't believe we drove by this place at least hundred times and never knew about it.

Well, Brooke's family growing up. The second I saw Cathedral Pines on our new National Forest map  I knew we had to go.

This old growth woods has towering red pines, hemlocks and white pines.




Some of the giant trees were downed by a storm, which made for the perfect balance beam.

It was basically a giant natural playground for all.

These kids were having too much fun.

Theo preferred to climb under the big old trees.



We were surprised when we got back to our car to see the parking lot was full.

Nearby was the Quartz Hill Trail just south of Carter. This was a recommendation on our National Forest map. To get to the quartz crystals you have to cross over Highway 32 from the trailhead parking lot. Trust us there is a trail there and it's obvious once you cross the highway.

This trail reminded us of the Laurentian Divide trail just north of the Iron Range in Minnesota. Lots of hills and boulders and a few bridges.

The kids were more excited about this hike than the long hike to the Ajibikoka Falls. 



It's only 3/4 mile to get to the quartz. Meadow said it was really easy. 

She was so excited by all the quartz.

The view was pretty cool. Will have to come back next fall when leaves are still on the trees.

You know we always miss peak color in the fall.

After playing for a little while and finishing our hikes earlier than expected we went back to the cottage.

Today's adventures were much quicker than yesterdays so we finally had time to play at the cottage.

The kids claimed that they wanted to play croquet. It didn't last long. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, I went kayaking. A lot of people were up this weekend. Everyone had brought in their docks weeks ago so people were sitting on the shore basking in the sun.

So instead we played by the tree house.

Theo and played up in the tree house, but needed Brooke's help getting back down.

I tried fishing off the dock, but with it missing the actual dock it wasn't too fun. Not a great year fishing in Three Lakes. Next year, I guess.

We stayed outside until the sun was long gone. Darn 4:36pm sunset.

At least it was a beauty.

The kids did not want to come back in.

Eventually we did get back indoors and the kids made a bunch of drawings while I made spaghetti and meatballs.

On Sunday Brooke kept on taking my chores, so I went out and played with the kids.

Meadow...I mean Harley Quinn was swinging around like a crazy gal.


The kids played in the sand box and swung some more before we ate lunch and headed out.

After reading an article about Wisconsin's old growth forests I had suggested we check out Germain Hemlocks Nature Area. Since we were right there we made a quick jaunt before sunset.

It was 4:00 when we arrived so we hiked quickly before it got too dark. Theo wasn't feeling well and asked to be carried.

Red and white pines can live to around 250 years old, so most pines in the Northwoods are reaching midlife already. Hemlocks on the other hand live up to 600 years. It's amazing to be hiking around trees that are half a millennia old.


If there are big downed trees this kid is bound to be jumping off them.

I want to come back and snowshoe here.

We got to the end of the trail just as the sun went below the horizon.

We raced back to the car as the forest got darker and darker.

We've found so many great places this year. I don't how it took us this long to find them.

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