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  1. #1
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    Cool WI>Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest>Jones Spring Area>May/June 2015

    Trip Report: Jones Spring Area in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from May 30 - June 3 2015.


    Getting there.

    Headed up for this trip late morning on Saturday in pouring rain. As I drove north the wind and rain continued to get worse. The rain was so heavy that even with the wipers on high everything was a blurr. As my truck was being buffeted from side to side by heavy winds I was wondering just what I had gotten myself into. While pondering this one of my windshield wipers was blown completely off. Fortunately the next off ramp wasn't too far down the highway. I drove until I found a place to buy a new wiper. Back on the road! A while later, as I was leaving Green Bay on Highway 29 the rain started letting up. Not far up Highway 32 the rain stopped and the sun came out. We were through the worst of it. My spirits soared!

    Drove on up to the Lakewood Ranger Station having in my eagerness to hit the trail forgotten they are closed on weekends. Oh well. Picked up some maps and brochures, admired their taxidermy mounts, then stretched me and my pup's legs a bit. Now, off to acquire an annual NF sticker. A text from Goobie let me know that Parkside in Mountain sells NF stickers and the trail to the Adirondack shelter is flooded. One problem at a time. So I drove up and down Mountain looking for anything that said "Parkside". Not a large town and yet, nada.

    Swallowing my pride, I stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. Well, it turns out that "Parkside Service Station - Mountain" is the BP gas station on the west side of Hwy 32 just north of Hwy W in the town of Mountain and they do sell NF stickers. Ok, sticker on windshield, we're good to go!

    Finally arrived at the Fanny Lake trailhead. Not seeing any sign of anyone from HF at the trailhead, I rucked up and headed out. Met some campers along the way who echoed Goobie's report that the bridge across Mary Creek was flooded. They said they had rolled up their pants and found that the water was knee deep. They also stated that while the trail was mucky it was doable and they had lunch there today.


    The Trail Beckons.




    At this point I knew I'd be hanging solo as usual. Since the planned on route was flooded and there was only about four hours of daylight left, I figured it was best to find an alternate site. One must always be ready to surf what Nature dishes out. Fighting it always makes for a bad trip and can even become life threatening. Has for me more times than I care to remember.


    Eva waiting for me to decide on our route.




    I well know how long it can take to find a suitable spot to camp in the northwoods so four hours to me is time to get a move on! Checked the topos for the highest (and hopefully driest!!) spot to hang in. I decided the hills north and west of Fanny Lake looked worth trying. It took a couple hours to find a suitable spot. When the FS said we can camp "anywhere" I think they were secretly laughing at us. Finding appropriately sized trees a suitable distance apart is easy. This is a forest after all! However, the trick is finding a spot that lacks the following: heavy brush, widowmakers or abundant insects. THAT is nearly impossible.

    Finally found a site that I considered to be good enough. Debated briefly about calling it a day after the nerve wracking drive up. Nah! Too eager to explore. Having already accomplished the very difficult (driving up in those conditions) and nearly impossible (finding a spot to hang at that met all of my criteria) so far today, I felt up for a hike. I followed the Red Loop up to the Jones Spring Impoundment and back. Was interesting to see wolf scat of varying ages along the trail. Better yet, ruffed grouse were drumming in the forest and flushing at our approach. My Drahthaar was very interested!! There were hills but not too many nor too steep. The woods were thick and varied from mixed birch and fir to red pine to mixed hardwoods and back again. Typical northwoods.


    Typical Northwoods.

    (insert pithy quote here)

  2. #2
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    Saturday Evening

    Having found several adequate sites to hang at along the Red trail, yet none better than the one near Fanny Lake, headed back the way I came. By the time I made it back to that site the sun was falling below the trees. Still some light yet fading fast. Set up the Yukon Double hammock quick and easy, just like in my backyard. Pitched the Chinook 12' x 9-1/2' tarp in "medium storm mode" as an A-frame to keep some heat in as I knew this would be the coldest night of the week. Opted not to close any of the doors since the wind was not very strong. Needed my headlamp to finish off the camp chores and cook supper.

    Since it had been a long hard week and the temps were dropping quickly, went to bed fairly early. As the hot supper settled into my belly the ruffs (ruffed grouse) finished up their drumming. The loons soon took over and I enjoyed their songs as the nearly full moon rose over Fanny Lake. From long experience I knew that night was fully upon us when the whip-poor-wills dominated the evening symphony. By the time even they had ceased their Springtime exuberance and a hush had fallen upon the northwoods, my eyelids were becoming much too heavy to keep open.

    Sunday

    Sunday morning dawned crisp yet pleasant. As the sun rose above Fanny Lake I heated some water in my EmberLit stove for oatmeal and coffee. (Medaglia d'Oro - thanks for putting that in your vids Shug!!) Then hiked down to the lake and watered up for the day. Eager to see how reality matched up to the image I had formed in my head from pouring over half a dozen maps and several trip reports, I struck camp, rucked up and headed down the trail.


    Fanny Lake.




    Knowing the Yellow-Red trail was very wet and the north bridge across Mary Creek was flooded I chose the Yellow trail to start the morning. This would take me on a longer trip with more hills to climb than the Yellow-Red trail. Seemed worth a try as I expected from the topography that it would be much drier. It was. No standing water, only two slightly muddy spots to traverse. One hill was steep enough to cause me to pause at its crest and appropriate a log for a few minutes, otherwise an easy hike.


    Approaching the Adirondack Shelter.




    I have to say, the Adirondack shelter between Upper and Lower Jones Lakes was a let down. The topos clearly showed that it is situated on the peak of a tall hill. And it is. However, I was disappointed not only that the trees obscured what could have been a spectacular view, but also that they blocked most of the breeze. Since the shelter sits between two lakes and a creek, it is surrounded by swamp. Those familiar with this type of terrain well know what comes next: hordes of mosquitoes! Indeed, the skeeters at the shelter and along the Yellow-Red trail were the worst of the trip.

    Ate lunch at the shelter and hung out until I tired of the skeeters. Then headed up the Yellow-Red trail towards Fanny Lake.


    Lunch at the Adirondack shelter in the Jones Spring area.

    (insert pithy quote here)

  3. #3
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    Another soggy section of the Yellow-Red trail. This would be but a prelude of what was to come.




    More soggy Yellow-Red trail.





    Looking back from whence I came, view of the Yellow-Red trail to the shelter from the north bridge across Mary Creek.



    Stopped to make sure all electronics had been turned off and everything was in one or more dry bags before shucking off boots and socks then removing the zip off legs from my pants. Much as I had heard earlier, the water went up to my knees. The underwater trail, while mushy, wasn't too bad to get across. Soon I was standing on the bridge. Once across the bridge and down the trail a bit I saw that things were drier ahead. Put my boots on and headed up to Fanny Lake. Tired from the day's exertions I hiked back to last night's camp near Fanny Lake and setup camp again. All in all, about a 10 mile day.
    (insert pithy quote here)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dux's Avatar
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    The rest of the week.


    On Monday I found myself hanging around camp for quite a while, which is unusual for me. Finally clued in that I had let myself get dehydrated. I had been having diarrhea and low appetite for several days leading up to this trip. Expect it was from eating raw wild edible plants. Happens from time to time doing that because we never know if some source of contamination came in contact with it earlier. Safer to cook yet because I prefer the taste of raw with some of the wild edibles, I take my chances many times each year. Forced myself to eat and drink then took a nap. Hit the trail that afternoon exploring more of the area around Fanny lake then checked out the Boot lake campground.

    Eva swimming in Fanny Lake.




    Boot lake. Estimate the deepest part in this pic is 7'-9'.



    Tuesday walked the trail to the Jones Spring Impoundment again. Mainly searching for spots where a group could hang. Very thick in most spots. It is tough finding a spot for one hammock, much less several.

    Wednesday hiked the Yellow trail again, looking for group hang options again. The areas along this loop are (comparatively) more open than the areas along the Red trail. I saw very little poison ivy during my hiking. Most of it that I saw was along the Yellow trail.


    Eva waiting for my tired old bones to catch up.




    All in all I had a great time. Wonderful area at a time when the insects and heat were not bad at all. The scenery was just gorgeous everywhere I went but then I have always loved the northwoods. The Spring sounds of the birds and frogs were a symphony to my ears. Gotta love the lakes up there! Very clear, fish surfacing frequently, just gorgeous. What a hoot.
    (insert pithy quote here)

  5. #5
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    Excellent report. Well written and nice photos. I can imagine how wonderful it was to lay there in the hammock and listen to the bird calls echoing across the lake. I look forward to more trip reports.

  6. #6
    Senior Member skwatupu's Avatar
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    Nice write up. Looks and sounds like nice territory. Thanks for sharing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dux's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I plan on going up there twice more this year.
    (insert pithy quote here)

  8. #8
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    Double stamped "S" on the fire ring at the Adirondack shelter between Upper and Lower Jones Lakes. This was the only fire ring with a typo that I saw in the area.

    (insert pithy quote here)

  9. #9
    alifeoutdoors's Avatar
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    We have an annual get together at a friends family cabin every winter and I ski or snowshoe Jones Spring every time. Great trails. Never seen them without snow. Thanks for the alternative perspective, sorry some of it was underwater :P

  10. #10
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    Where does your dog sleep? I want to bring my lab and (English) pointer, but I am afraid they will get too cold on the ground. They sure aren't coming in the hammock! Great pics and fantastic report.

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