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.
Two pleasant walks amongst the 'Pottawattomie Colony Trail System'
We're here, 16 September 2022, to retrieve Stephanie from her gardening chores and set off for a scenic hike in the so-called 'Pottawattomie Colony', described as a ' Lake Tomahawk riparian association' and as a region on the west side of Lake Tomahawk. There is a trail map below.
The Canal Trail officially begins at the new bench on our canal, and we'll park the reliable Volvo on the road just a ways up from the culvert.
Off we go, next to a daunting sort of swampy mess, but we're aware from a previous walk along here that the trail itself is well maintained and entirely without swampy nastiness.
But do stay on the trail.
There could be any number of previous hikers down in there who were less careful than we are.
We'll be following along a ridge between hollows on either side.
Kristin as always leads on with a defining sense of purpose.
After about half a mile, we'll be dropping down into some more confusing sorts of terrain, but this is a comfortable treat.
Long years of arboreal wreckage all round
And some fairly deep depressions on that side -- which may in fact be the famous 'kettle' (which will be described further down).
Don't light a match or drop a cigarette anywhere round here.
Somebody is helpfully handy with a chainsaw.
Wilderness sorts of views in all directions
A certain swampiness to the undergrowth here
We're descending off the ridge now, and it's all up for grabs.
It's a little hard to find out who these days is behind all these trails (and who's keeping up with their maintenance). The name 'Pottawattomie Colony' is almost absent from Google searches, but it's known to some of the old-timers of our acquaintance, essentially as a kind of residential development perhaps in the 1930s or '40s, probably centered on the 'Hearthwood Residence' area on the map below. The Lakeland Conservancy mentioned above does appear on some online data listings of conservation trusts, but besides its incorporation in 1986 and the agent-name of a local attorney, we find no other information about it or its work.
We're at the northern Canal Trailhead shown on the map below, and this is McCoy Road. The testimonial sign above is dated to 1991, but the well-produced map is copyrighted to the Colony as its 2020 edition, so some people are certainly keeping up the glorious tradition.
Back along the Canal Trail, but soon . . .
. . . we decided to try out the Anderson Trail for the way back -- not having had that excellent map with us at the time -- but common sense, when after 15 minutes the trusty iPhone informed us that we were proceeding due north, intervened.
So back we turned down to the Canal Trail -- 30-minutes of time lost that we will never be able to reclaim.
Back to the Canal Trail, then, and, for a lark . . .
. . . we're off up the Kettle View Trail, which Kristin and Elke explored earlier in the summer but which is new of Stephanie and our own good self.
One was inclined to wonder what, in topographical terms, a 'kettle' is, but now we can risk a wild guess.
That's probably a 25m drop there. Once down in there, never out again maybe.
It is quietly beautiful, though. Probably at night, not so much.
A dead arboreal giant squid
Almost back to the road; the odd sore knee is quietly murmuring its gratitude.
-- Thanks for waiting!
That was such fun that after a few days of fine (but windy) weather on Mussent Point . . .
. . . we're going back. This is, too, is the Anderson Trail, at the other end, but . . .
. . . we're soon turning off to the north on the Elliott Trail from the trailhead on Camp Minocqua Rd, off Poplar Drive off Highway 51.
Camp Minocqua, by the way, was founded in 1904 by a chap named Sprague as a summer camp for boys, and only closed in 1973. In the meantime, Mrs Sprague had founded nearby a Clearwater Camp for girls in 1933, and it continues today, since 2008 as a nonprofit camp for girls. Some of Kristin's younger relatives spent rewarding times as campers and as camp counselors over the years.
This is quite a different sort of forest than we found in the Canal Trail. Less generally dead.
It's still got some fairly interesting weird things here and there, but to be honest one could easily prefer the post-apocalytpic devastation of the Canal Trail deathscape.
But this is cute. Looks a little staged, though.
We gallop onward at a brisk pace, some of us do anyway, the stragglers need to concentrate a bit more.
Some nice contours (a white utility van passed by not too far off to the right; we're meant to be crossing over Camp Minocqua Rd before long).
We're crossing Camp Minocqua Rd and searching all about for the trail's continuation by West Tomahawk Lake Road. No luck at first, but . . .
. . . there it is. We can always tell the well-designed trailheads by the huge boulders planted there to dissuade to the waggish ATV fanaticals.
We're proceedings back more or less parallel to the roadway, but with the promise of a special attraction along the way.
-- Nor more harsh words for the stragglers, please. We're photographing stuff.
A vasty sunlit expanse of flatness is peering in at us from the left.
Which it turns out is a very noteworthy sort of marshy boggish swamp or fen or whatever. Google Maps is pleased to inform us that it's about an 880m by 650m wetland leading on the far side to the Lake Tomahawk shoreline.
All kinds of familiar wetland stuff in there. If they could just come up with 20,000 migratory waterbirds stopping over each year, we could urge a Ramsar Wetland Convention listing for the place.
Some Pottawattomie Colony Trail walkers expressing their joy at the experience
The 'Marsh View Bench' is a real hit.
But now we'll be getting on our way again.
Last swampy views as we prepare to resume today's mission
Nice island you've got there. But we need to get underway -- 'miles to go before we sleep . . .' or rather . . .
. . . about five minutes of underbrush . . .
. . . and back to a patiently waiting Volvo.
Next page: Last days on the lake, Dan & Katie's visit, and a visit to Birds in Art