Kayaker Apostle Islands National Lakeshore via Flickr by Tim Wilson

3 Ways to Get Active in Wisconsin This Summer

Winter is finally over and it’s time to get active again! With state parks and natural areas featuring hundreds of hiking trails and bike paths, Wisconsin is a great place to explore the outdoors. However, without the limitations of a trail, there is so much more to discover. Leaving the trails behind can lead you to experiencing truly unique things and give you a view of nature that you’ve never seen before.

Ready to go beyond the basics? Here are three outdoor sports to get you off the beaten path.

Rock Climbing

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Image via Flickr by Brady Wieland

Rock climbing is a great way to get off the trails and immerse yourself in nature. You can go almost anywhere in the state and find climbing areas, but Devil’s Lake State Park is by far the most popular climbing spot with thousands of climbs for every skill level.

There are plenty of rock climbing gyms and climbing guides in Wisconsin to help you get started. Joining a gym is a great way to ease yourself into the sport and build your confidence if you’re not quite ready to scale a rock formation, while a climbing guide will help you jump right in and have you up a bluff in no time. Either way, you’ll be sure to meet new climbing buddies and make lasting memories.

Kayaking

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Image via Flickr by Tim Wilson

Wisconsin is bordered by Lake Superior and Lake Michigan and has more than 15,000 lakes and 43,000 miles of rivers, meaning there are plenty of places to go kayaking.

Water trails can take you to campsites that are otherwise inaccessible, making your camping trip an exclusive event. Lake Michigan and Lake Superior both feature water trails and several state parks and forests have marked water trails or water trails that are unmarked, but can be found on a map.

Don’t have your own kayak? The Travel Wisconsin website can help you find the perfect place to rent one. Buckhorn, Council Grounds, Devil’s Lake, Mirror Lake, and Perrot State Parks all offer adaptive kayak rentals so a disability won’t slow you down.

Scuba Diving

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Image via Flickr by Robert Hornung

Scuba diving is a pricy sport, but well worth the cost for a chance to visit the underwater world.

A quick online search can point you toward a scuba shop near you where you can sign up for lessons. A mixture of classroom work and practice in a pool will have you ready to hit the lake for your certification dives in just a few weekends.

Once you’re certified, all you need is some equipment and a dive buddy and you’re ready to explore the world below the water’s surface. If you’re not ready to buy your own gear, you can rent everything at your local scuba shop whenever you have a dive planned. You can find a dive buddy by having a friend take lessons with you, meeting someone in your scuba class, or just by hanging out at your dive shop.

There’s so much of Wisconsin that can’t be seen from a  hiking trail or bike path. There are plenty of sports that will help you immerse yourself in nature. Rock climbing, kayaking, and scuba diving are just a few ways to begin a life of adventure.

Hiking Roche-A-Cri State Park

If you follow my YouTube channel, you know that I hate the Wisconsin DNR website. A lot of the hiking areas on the site don’t have maps or information about what kinds of plants and animals are in the state parks.

They did a little bit better with Roche-A-Cri State Park in Friendship, Wisconsin. There’s even a map of the park showing all the trails.

The first stop I’m going to make on my trip to Roche-A-Cri is at Ship Rock. Ship Rock isn’t in the park, but it’s a wayside on Highway 21 just east of the park. There isn’t much to see there, but I’ve driven past Ship Rock several times and I’ve always wanted to stop to get some pictures.

At Roche-A-Cri Park, I plan on hiking the Mound Trail, which is 0.3 miles. There are stairs up to an observation deck on top of Roche-A-Cri Mound. Since the mound is a State Natural Area, you can’t leave the stairway and observation deck in order to preserve the area for everyone to enjoy.

After the Mound Trail, I’m going to take Chickadee Rock Nature Trail, which is another 0.3 miles. This trail is also handicap accessible.

At Chickadee Rock, I’m going to go right on the Acorn Trail and go back around the mound to see some petroglyphs. The Acorn Trail is 3.55 miles, but I won’t hike the whole thing.

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How to Prevent and Remove a Tick

Ticks are gross, but they are a fact of life if you spend any amount of time in the woods. Knowing how to remove them is super important.

There are three kinds of ticks found in Wisconsin. The Deer Tick and Wood Tick are very common and the Lone Star Tick is very rare, but is sometimes seen in the southern part of the state.

The most common concern for a tick bite is the risk of contracting Lyme Disease. My mom and both of my dogs have Lyme Disease and it’s very common in my area to get it.

Lyme Disease is carried by Deer Ticks. Other types of ticks carry other diseases, but with any type of tick, if you remove it right away (within 24 hours is what I’ve always heard), you’re usually fine. If you develop flu symptoms, go to a doctor right away.

Tick Prevention

Ticks don’t usually jump, so the most common way to get one on you is by brushing a plant that it’s crawling on. Avoiding trees and tall grass is a great way to avoid ticks.

Wearing clothing that provides full coverage is also a great way to prevent ticks. My mom tucks her pants legs into her socks when she goes hiking or does work on her farm to avoid having ticks get on her ankles and crawl up her pant legs. Wearing yoga pants or any other type of clothing too tight for ticks to crawl under is another way to prevent ticks from getting on you. If they can’t get to your skin, they can’t bite you.

If you do get one on you, they don’t always bite you right away, so if you feel one crawling on you, you can just pick it off and kill it or throw it away if it hasn’t bitten you yet.

Removing Ticks

To remove a tick, use a tweezers and grab it as close to your skin as possible to make sure to get its head. I like to use pointy tweezers for this. The Revlon Mini Tweezer Set is great for sticking in your backpack and using to remove ticks. It’s also super cheap on Amazon.

 

The pointy ends make it super easy to get as close as possible to the skin to make sure you’ve gotten as much of the tick as possible.

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Remove it gently so you don’t hurt yourself or accidentally leave parts of it in your skin.

Wash the wound and your hands (and the tweezer!) with soap and water and use alcohol to help prevent getting an infection.

I’ll update this post with more pictures if (when?) I get bitten again or find a tick on Rascal or Moky or Kreacher that hasn’t gotten engorged yet.

#FashionFriday: What I wear for a summer day hike

If you subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Instagram, you know that I do day hikes because I’m not a fan of sleeping on the ground and not properly showering or washing my hands. Hand sanitizer is great for a little while, but I like to end my day with actual soap and water.

Even casual hikers need proper gear, though. I’m a strong believer that the deer care how you look, so I try to seek out gear that’s cute as well as functional. Here’s my standard outfit for a summer day hike.

The Outfit

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Obviously the first thing you need to look good on the trail is the right outfit. Rascal and Moky are always effortlessly dapper in their tuxedos, but we can’t all look that good.

The boots

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I got my Hi-Tec boots at a store in Mildura during my study abroad in Australia in 2014 (check out the Edge of the Outback program if you like photography). Mine are the Meridien WP Women’s in size 8.5. It looks like Hi-Tec discontinued this particular style, because the only place I found it was this out-of-stock one on Amazon. The accent color on the Amazon one is purple, but mine are light blue. I love that they’re mostly brown/beige because it’s so much easier to put together an outfit without having to worry if my boots will clash.

I’m normally a 7.5, so I went a size up to compensate for the thick socks I usually wear when I’m hiking. I’ve had these boots for a few years and I’ve never had any issues with them in any terrain. I’ve hiked through thick woods, mountainous and bluff regions, lava fields and more and these boots are easily keeping up with me. They’re also waterproof, which is great since the Midwest gets plenty of storms during the summer and even when the weather is nice, there are a lot of streams and puddles to wade through.

One thing to remember is that shoes need to be broken in and blisters are a fact of life. Whenever you get new hiking boots, wear them around for a while so your feet know the boots and the boots know your feet.

The socks

Thick socks help cushion your feet when you’re hiking. There are a lot of brands that are pretty comparable. I have some Fits socks that I really like. Most socks designed for hiking incorporate Merino wool, which is great for wicking away moisture to keep you from drowning in your own sweat.

I personally don’t like the crew style that most hiking socks come in. You can get high-end brands like Fits in a quarter height, but I actually like a brand called SeoulStory7 that I found on Amazon better. SeoulStory7 socks are much cheaper than high-end brands sold at specialty stores like Erehwon or REI and there’s a reason for that. They aren’t made with wool and they’re thinner than socks from more recognizable brands. I would only wear them in summer because they aren’t anywhere near warm enough for a fall or spring day in the Midwest, but I like them enough that I’ve purchased multiple pairs.

The pants

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I think most pants designed for hiking are super ugly, but jeans aren’t really comfortable to hike in and leggings and yoga pants don’t provide much protection against brambles and can snag easily.

The pants I wear are sold by a company called Angel Cola on Amazon, but are actually made by a company called Komont, which appears to be Korean. I personally think these pants fit really well and I love that they come in so many fun colors, but a lot of the reviews on Amazon complain about issues with quality and fit. I’m very thin, so women with an average or heavier build may not like these pants as much as I do.

The lightweight pants that I wear in summer are very thin and some colors can be see-through, which I found out the hard way. To avoid showing off a little too much in see-through clothes, find underwear or a bra in a color as close to your skin tone as possible. White underwear and bras can still be seen through thin clothing, even if you’re as pale as me.

The best thing about these pants is that they’re super durable. Again, many reviewers on Amazon had a different experience than I did and have complained about these pants ripping at the seams, but I’ve found that I can charge straight through the woods without worrying about getting cuts and scrapes from twigs and brambles.

The top

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I’m not really a t-shirt kind of girl, so I usually wear tanktops on hikes. I got this one from Old Navy several years ago. I tend to cut the tags off my clothes, so I don’t actually know the fabric content of this top, but it’s super comfortable.

The sports bra I’m wearing underneath the top is also really comfortable. It’s from Fruit of the Loom and is 95% cotton and 5% lycra. Cotton is a great fabric for hiking and other outdoor activities because it’s breathable, so it doesn’t trap your body heat or sweat (super important on hot days). It also doesn’t retain smells as much as other fabrics, so if you’ve been sweating all day or sitting by the campfire all night, you won’t smell it as much when you’re still wearing your shirt and the smells will come out easier when you wash it.

I do keep heavier outer layers and waterproof layers in my backpack as well. In the midwest it’s important to have all kinds of clothing because you can’t trust the weather.

If you like the scenery in these pictures or just want to see more of Moky and Rascal, check out my video of our trip to Wildcat Mountain State Park in Wisconsin here.