Just at a time when the office is filled with people expressing disdain for one more day of cold weather, contempt for the “S” word in the forecast, I silently nod and smile knowing all the while that diehard winter lovers head for the wilds and receive just reward!
This was our experience over the last weekend in March at Pattison State Park in northern Wisconsin. We had clear blue skies, sunny days, temps in the 30’s and star filled nights! To make it even better, that part of the state was still getting fresh snow; seven inches a few days before we arrived! How could one resist?
Pattison is home to Wisconsin’s largest waterfall; Big Manitou Falls at 165 feet, interesting to see it completely frozen this time of year. The park has a cool history too, named for Martin Pattison, an early lumber man and miner in the area. With success in the lumber and mining industry, Pattison became a wealthy man. In 1917 Pattison learned of a plan to build a power dam on the Black River that would have destroyed Big Manitou Falls. He secretly purchased 660 acres along the river, donating it to the state in 1918 – saving the waterfall and land surrounding it. One can only hope to be able to contribute so generously to preserve our wild places!
It was completely gorgeous snowshoeing along the Black River, buried in a heavy blanket of white with only small signs of spring bubbling through, to have a trail lunch basking in the sun overlooking Little Manitou Falls. Nobody wanted to leave that spot, that moment when we felt spring and had winter too! However, we had ground to cover before reaching the backpack sites in time to set up camp and have dinner before nightfall. So we finished off the last pieces of chocolate, slugged down some water and then traversed back, crossed the river and made our way to the backpack site which again was strategically positioned to overlook Little Manitou Falls. So at nightfall we were standing taking pictures of the sunset on the other side of the river on the large rocky out cropping on the left side of the river (near the center of the picture below).
One thing about the woods in winter, it is quiet and usually you’d be lucky, or unlucky depending on perspective, to see another human. We saw no other two legged creatures once we left park headquarters and all commented how peaceful it was and how lucky we were to have the park to ourselves!
Did I mention we had plenty of time for fun and games? I could never jump this high with pack and snowshoes without the aid of several feet of snow!
And no one wanted to leave, thinking it could quite possibly be our last outing of the season!