Small steps in Marathon County good enough for now

(Author’s note: Continuing my attempts to archive my past Portage County Gazette columns. This one is from May 24, 2017.)

 

Bridge on Plover River IAT segment, Marathon County

When it comes to protecting our public lands, it’s easy to see recent developments as one step forward and three or four steps back.

Efforts to strip protected status from national monuments and sell off or otherwise allow desecration of Wisconsin public lands by greedy businesses seem to fill the news recently.  These aren’t the best ways to start the summer outdoor season, but it doesn’t hurt to keep them in the back of our minds while we’re out having fun.

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If you can put up with the Dells, you’ll love Mirror Lake

Morning coffee and park guide

State parks are family, and we love them unconditionally. But sometimes it’s harder to tolerate the hangers-on who family members bring along as baggage.

That’s the case with Mirror Lake State Park, which is like your cool brother who has a lovely wife. Let’s just call her Rocky Arbor State Park, and let’s just NOT talk about her father, the highly successful but brash and overbearing guy whose name is Wisconsin Dells.

OK, let’s.  You can’t discuss Mirror Lake without the conversation turning toward the obnoxious father-in-law, who, truth be told, has his good points.

So this week’s column will be about bad weather, good shelter, wonderful trails, high prices and everything else that comes with a foray into Wisconsin’s most beautiful and overpopulated tourist attractions.

Plan B for “beautiful” 

The intent had been to drive Thursday to Devil’s Lake State Park, south of Baraboo, and hope we were lucky enough for a first-come, first-served camping spot before another busy weekend.  A week before, the online reservation system had shown no reservable sites available at Devil’s Lake, but there were still multiple sites available at Mirror Lake, just up the road.

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Knowing what we know about non-reservable sites, we figured we at least had a shot. They’re often available during the week, but we needed a backup plan.

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