If you’re from Wisconsin, this seemingly desolate domain is your snow sports failsafe. Sure the rest of Wisconsin gets snowfall, yet the southern half of the state is rather inconsistent when it comes to receiving and retaining white stuff. It’s a bit different in the Northwoods, being not uncommon to see a significant layer as early as November. Albeit, there are droughts in this mainly undeveloped land of retreat, your chances for frozen precipitation are much better. And the Northwoods is where I went to enjoy midwinter activities at the onset of the solstice.
The midwinter activity, to be precise, would be traditional cross country skiing. The location, amongst the vast expanse of the Northwoods, would be a state park known as Governor Thompson State Park.
Governor Thompson State Park is a fairly new park, being just about twenty years old. It was instituted in the year 2000, and boasts 2,800 acres of trails, lakes and woodlands. It offers a wide array of activities, from camping, hiking, boating and fishing in the summer months to skate and cross country skiing in the winter. One can also hunt and trap in open areas of the park during designated seasons
So now that I’ve given you the setting….
On with my skiing adventure in a Wisconsin Northwoods State Park
I’m driving through a typical town in northern Wisconsin. You know, its pretty much no frills and hosts people, like me, who come to take advantage of the early heavy snow fall this year. The name of this unassuming town is Crivitz, yet my destination lies a little under half an hour towards the North West.
As I leave Crivitz, the roads towards my selected goal are narrow but lightly traveled. I’ve spotted logging trucks parked in Crivitz, and am a little apprehensive about meeting similar oncoming vehicles on this partially snow covered roadway. My travels turn out to be very relaxing and without incident.
When I arrive at my destination, midday on Friday, I discover that the Governor Thompson State Park visitor’s center is closed. I stop in its parking lot, study the trail map and break out the Skis. I find the Otter Trail, which is kind of groomed. I follow it for a few hundred feet till it opens to an excellent trail groomed for both skate and traditional cross country skiing.
At first, I think that any ski trail near my native Green Bay has this area beat. Yet, as I skim the surface of this freshly packed snow, I realize I’m mistaken. I’m galavanting in an outdoor winter haven. The scenery changes from dormant oaks to evergreens.
Soon, I discover a frozen lake, along with a rustic log shelter. I’m told, by another skier, that this small little lodge has a woodstove. If one needed to warm up they can light a fire in the stove. That’s very cool and pretty typical of a public Northwoods cabin.
The temp is in the high twenties today, which is absolutely perfect for skiing. I make my way across the trails, and spend about an hour and a half exploring the wooded terrain of this very lovely park. I know this place is teaming with wildlife, however, no mammal crosses my path this particular day. Although, I do see tracks in the freshly packed snow.
When I’m finished, I head towards the car with a satisfied emotion centered within my being. I absolutely love feeling that charged sense I get after a little physical activity in the cold. It’s absolutely exhilarating.
Next time I do this, I will take my girlfriend Heidi. I’m sure we’ll have a blast trekking through the Northwoods and taking in the spectacle of wintry forests. Nothing beats a little exercise in a remote location, the only company you really have is mother nature.