You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Trees in the lake, and erratics
All round the lake there are trees rotting away under the water, or in the water, nearly fallen into the water, leaning out over the water, soon to begin leaning out over the water, and we'd like to know why. (31 July 2019)
Like this. Cousin Rob (in the background) points to the fact that there are no branches along the upper side of this tree, the side originally facing inland, only along the side that was facing out onto the lake. That's a clue to one reason for the leaning trees -- they WANT to lean out over the lake, to beat their competing trees for the sunlight, and over time they overdid it.
Many or most, or all, of the fallen trees lie where they fell, or nearby -- it's either an environmental regulation that they can't be carted away, or a local tradition, or sheer laziness, but in any case, there they are.
As the crow flies, this lake extends north-south for 2.1 miles (3.4km) and east-west 1.2 miles (2km), but with its 5 main bays and numerous smaller coves, the shoreline (we've been told) runs around 11 miles, or 18 kilometres. Plenty of opportunities for trees to give up the fight and make a splash.
Back in a little cove in the bay called on the map 'Indian Bay' (see map below), probably for no good reason, but thought of by at least some of us as 'South Shore Drive Bay', this is presumably a healthy 'erratic', a boulder carried from afar by the Ice Age glaciers and just dropped here when convenient.
A couple of trees deciding whether to go for it, though, with time, their fate is sealed.
An aging carcass and a still-green newcomer joining in
There are something like 80 residences on the lake, in a few places crowded along cheek-by-jowl in mini-mansions, in other stretches of the shore, usually better spaced since the old days, in classic cottages dating in some cases back not much short of a century. And probably as much as half of the shoreline is entirely undeveloped, until recently still owned by a trust descended from the late 19th century lumber company who ran a sawmill here (and denuded the landscape).
Here comes our friend the piledriver, down from the north end of the lake towards the public landing, possibly to grab some lunch (2 August 2019).
He's a very friendly chap, and presumably an expert in his craft
Here's a right collection of erratics on the farthest shore of South Shore Drive Bay, mixed in with trees (3 August 2019).
And another, standing just off the shore
With opportunistic trees getting along as best they can in the circumstances
We're coming back out of the bay to the 'chute', a straightaway that leads 500m back to the main part of the lake, and we're coming up on the sharp corner of the Tigertail. Note the undercut shoreline.
Adjacent to the Tigertail, that's called Pink Island, for reasons probably lost in the mists of memory.
Undercut and eroded shorelines at the Tigertail, and some trees no longer very well supported
The Tigertail per se. Sometimes, as shown above, trees lean out over the lake because they want to, but the other, and the principal, reasons for the tree carnage is the erosion of the shorelines upon which they support themselves.
That's to some extent a natural process, storm-created waves and what not, but that's not the worst of it.
A majestic arboreal corpse, with . . .
. . . a few green bits of it still trying to keep up the fight.
The worst of it is that this is no longer an industrial, lumber-industry lake; it's a recreational lake, which means that . . .
. . . in summer, all manner of water craft ply these bays -- canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, pedal boards, hydrobikes (like ours), slow, light, no wake, no damage to the shore; jetskis, annoyingly loud, but with little wake because they're basically planing on top of the surface; pontoon boats, normally rather slow but heavier in the water, so sometimes with a significant wake, especially if loaded up with partiers; and ski boats, fast, relatively heavy, and often with extremely damaging wakes whacking into these shorelines and eroding out as much of the soil and small rocks as they can grab hold of.
Ski boats are frequently pulling water skiers, sometimes they're just joyriding, in effect, in both cases normally making about as much of a wake (and noise) as they can, for the wonderful excitement of it.
And now we have a new phenomenon to deplore -- 'wave-maker boats', for a new sport in which specially made boats with fins out the back deliberately create huge waves behind them so that the enthusiasts following along can drop their towing ropes and ride real surfboards on the wake. As here. There are apparently three of them on the lake this summer.
A wake like this one could make even a hydrobike rider sit up and take defensive measures. Canoeists and kayakers might as well go back home and have a leisurely lunch, until the noisy super-athletes get tired and go in to watch some of their streaming videos.
That said, the vroom-vroom people and all the other varieties of watercraft are really only a grand nuisance here on some summer weekends and a few holidays. Otherwise the lake is a more or less quiet platform for genteel family relaxations, or almost entirely empty of lacustrine traffic.
An anvil cloud (cumulonimbus incus), usually associated with thunderstorms. Uh oh, we'll mosey on over to the shore.
A fairly serious whopper, one of a week-long run of afternoon thunderboomers in early August.
Pretty high winds. Probably knocking a few more trees into the lake.
Looking from Mussent Point, near the north end of the lake, southward 1.4 miles to the far end of the main lake (not counting the various bays farther to the south)
The mallard family patroling in one of the northern coves
Taking a short break from their labors -- one mommy, and five little 'uns.
In the bay facing Mussent Point, here's a recent arboreal casualty . . .
. . . well prepared for its tragic end by the woodpeckers and the little buggy things they'd come to dig out of it.
What a mess.
The family that owns the land out on this point have chosen to saw the mess into some welcome firewood for the winter.
A forgotten dock a little further along the shore, with a boat that may tempt tragedy trying to get into it in this state.
Another nasty storm, 7 August 2019 -- this seems to be the season for the successions of violent thunderstorms. Or is every season that season nowadays?
Melvin and Choupette have crawled under the pillows in the back bedroom.
No wonder the lake level has been rising steadily over the past three or four years.
The mallard family passing the Mussent Point dock, but . . .
. . . but if that's the same mallard family, it appears to be missing one of its members. (Between eagles and muskies, it's a wonder any of them make it through.)
We've inadvertently disturbed them -- a pity -- but they never lose their cool; they just flap ahead 20 metres and settle back into their leisurely parade.
A casualty of some years ago just south of Mussent Point, a fixture on our itineraries nowadays.
Nobody's around today, we're on our own (8 August), and making another exploratory mission to the centre island, long called 'Adjidaumo' after a frisky squirrel in H. W. Longfellow's 'epic' poem The song of Hiawatha (cap. VIII, Hiawatha's fishing).
Finally, this summer, the tag alders that had been shielding the shoreline impenetrably, and have been weakening with the rising lake levels and dying off from the scouring ice, are going to let us in at last.
A hydrobike tucked in behind a few of the surviving tag alders, in the crescent cove on the northeast side, to await us
The gentlest way up the spine of the island
The island, only 120m long, rises maybe 20m off the lake and points towards the old sawmill on the far shore, long gone (with all Wisconsin's trees) in the early 20th century.
Our eagles reside here, and apparently always have done, and we're going to poke around to see if anybody's home.
Towards the 'top' of the island
There was a cabin here, back in the sawmill days, presumably, like everything else, the property of the sawmill owners.
That's very good advice -- one has come across a few well-meaning groups of rogue campers up here over the years, who must be politely required to have fun elsewhere.
There's the traditional eagles' nest; there appears in some photos to be another one, presumably a new one, farther down and off to the right, but we didn't see that one this time round.
The adults are both patroling the shorelines (hopefully looking for careless fish, but possibly trying to get a line on our cats on Mussent Point), but the juvenile is home. We can't see him this time, but he's angry at our intrusion and setting up a hell of a squeaky racket.
Back down, in hopes that the hydrobike hasn't drifted off down the lake
Reliable as always
No Trespassing -- it sounds a little harsh, but the risk of daytrippers to the lake mistaking Adjidaumo for part of their holiday festivities, and burning down the house, is considerable. Of course, we're okay, we know the family.
Another downed tree (this is in the so-called South Bay, under the highway bridge) fighting for its life -- the brown stuff is apparently deader than a 'doornail', whereas as the green branches are still trying to negotiate a peaceful solution (9 August).
A legacy fallen tree in the soi-disant 'South Bay' (see map below) -- all the little limbs and twigs appear to have been torn off by God's Plan for Fallen Trees, but we're told that in fact the ice fishermen (in the winter, of course) snap them off for their campfires out on their frigid piscatorial kill-zones.
Tree limbs still desperately trying to angle themselves towards the sun
We're being followed.
Kurt and son Ronan are taking the Mussent Point Ride of Doom.
And a grand time was had by all. (Grandson Billy took the ride a few years ago with his dad, and at the end Billy cried out 'Again, again' and his dad cried out 'Never again'.)
Choupette doesn't want to miss anything.
The Lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods
Mussent Point is at no. 12.