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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 4-30-2014

by Mark Walters

Off Road Challenge

Hello friends, 

I have always said that if you are going to be an outdoor adventures writer then you had better live the part. This week I tried to play that part and now you can read about my adventure.

Tuesday, April 22nd
High 51, low 25

Here is the scoop, I would use my Wisconsin Gazetteer (a book of maps that I frequently use to help me discover new places in Wisconsin) and pick out a remote area in Wisconsin where I could get off road, hopefully not trespass (too much), and hike north on day one and then south back to my truck on day two.

Problem one, forty of the 96 pages of my Gazetteer are missing due to other trips, so when I left my home and headed north this morning, I had no idea where I was going to do this adventure until I purchased a new Gazetteer.

I figured Chequamegon National Forest would get me away from the real world and my choice would be the southern unit near Medford (Perkinstown).

So what is my challenge? Head into the woods/swamp, live by a compass, wear hipboots, stay over night and no tent, campstove or sleeping bag is allowed. My plan for my evening sleeping event would be to cut a hole in the end of a trash bag and sleep peacefully inside of it on a star filled night.

Another very important part of this challenge would be the serious test that I would give my right knee and ankle and left ankle. All three were injured either last fall or this winter and I wanted to see if I could handle this type of workout. My golden retriever, Fire, would be my companion as we headed north into country that is seldom seen by human beings.

After one hour, my first thoughts were, I love doing this, there is a chill in the air, lots of water in the forest, and I feel great as I busted brush with a 30-pound pack on my back.

I hiked 1244 miles of the Appalachain Trail in one trip with this pack, and have put at least another 2000-miles on it since, and though it is completely worn out, I love this backpack.

The biggest challenge that I would have as my day unraveled was not if I could physically handle the task, but frequently coming to spring run creeks that were over my hip boots. The next largest challenge would be busting through tag alder swamps that constantly snag on my pack and body. About four-hours into my day I discovered that the fleece jacket that I planned on wearing tonight was on top, but inside of my pack, had been pulled out by brush and was gone for good.

Something that I thought was really cool was almost nonstop deer sign and not one winter or wolf kill did I come across.

Daylight is fading, I must build camp. My version of camp would be using a loppers and making a bed of spruce boughs and when the time came pulling my trusty trash bag (head would be out the hole of trash bag) over my head for an awesome night of sleep.

It is now midnight, I have been trying to sleep for 3-hours, the air temp is 25-degrees and I am really missing my fleece jacket. I wore my hipboots to bed and my feet are freezing even though I put on fresh socks.

One thirty a.m. I am completely awake, my feet are not in good shape and the inside of my trash bag is completely condensated and actually getting my clothes wet. Executive decision is made to gather firewood, build a fire and warm up.

Two thirty a.m. life is good I warmed up while gathering wood and sitting by fire, I try to sleep next to my fire and put my back to close to it and my shirt gets so hot it is ready to start burning. While cooling off shirt, I run out of firewood, fire dies!

Major firewood hunt! I find an old cedar stump and restart fire around it, it is 4:20, I lay next to my fire until 6:00 a.m. get up, pack my backpack and head to truck.

I snack continuously on trail mix and fruit and am doing well. After three hours I am so tired I cannot think straight. I find a beautiful spot on a ridge that is in the full sun and once again make an executive decision. Power nap!

Three hours later I wake up and I am loving life! I am in no pain and all I have to do is live by my compass and find my truck. Three hours later, I find my Chevy pickup and life is perfect.

Fifty-two going on twenty-two! Ready to wrestle or get run over by a sled! Sunset

P.S. Sixteen miles traveled.

THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Ormson’s SuperValu