A Camping Trip you will never Forget part one

When my youngest son was about 8, I remember I was usually kept busy mounting the newly stocked salmon. Many of my customers would take me fishing, and whenever I could, my son would accompany us. He became quite good catching 30-pound salmon. So, I was quite surprised with the answer after I asked him where he’d like to spend the next family vacation—he said he’d like to go to a lake where he could cast lures and catch smaller fish.

One of my friends told me about Wabikon Lake in northeast Wisconsin that was stocked with muskies. I had never caught one before, so I looked forward to trying this lake. When I called the resort the owner told me that he hadn’t seen any muskies but that I could find a better place to camp by going through a channel that would take me to a smaller lake, Riley Lake.

So, I decided to go there.

Since I was going to the campsite by boat, I’d have to pack enough for everything I would need for a week yet light enough for the travel: I have a four-man tent (I like to have one that’s comfortable), two air mattresses and sleeping bags. In the summer, we’d likely be sleeping on the bags instead of inside them. For the grill, we would prop it above the fire with rocks. Then we’d have a large cast-iron frying pan, two metal mixing bowls, two metal cups, two forks and steak knives sharp enough to fillet a fish. We’d also have a small hand axe and a can opener, a cooler, 4- to 5-gallon water bags, garbage bags and a makeshift fish scaler by screwing in two corrugated bottle caps into a wooden handle—it works better than anything else. I also rolled up paper soaked in paraffin wax to be used as a fire starter. I could then cut off as large of a piece that I needed to start each fire. Next, I brought a slab of bacon that I’d wrap in a towel soaked in vinegar and then put into a plastic bag. If it’s not too warm, I’d bring a few eggs. Next, I’d bring a large box of pancake flour, a bottle of honey, a few cans of vegetables, baked beans, corn, potatoes and green beans—I always plan meals so we bring nothing back.

Next to bring is canned fruit, peaches, mixed fruit, corned beef hash, Spam and a bottle of instant coffee. My first meal while afield was a roast I had brought from home. I cooked a duck and wrapped it in aluminum foil and froze it and put it in the cooler. I also freeze our drinks and some of the 5-gallon water bags I packed to be only used for drinking and mixing pancakes.

I also bring a bug spray to kill any in the tent before going in for the night. And bring a spray for our personal use with plenty of DEET. I wear lightweight, long-sleeved clothing to protect myself from the sun. We don’t bring many changes of clothes, so we go home looking much like we did when we got there.

When we got to Wabikon Lake we met the resort owner. He then pointed out the way to the channel to take us to the smaller water. He said not many people fish Riley Lake, so he had no idea how good the fishing really was.

We loaded our boat and went across Wabikon to find this channel that would take us to our destination.

Later, we had found it, but it was so small and shallow that I had to get out of the boat and wade through the waters. This lake was like something out of a postcard—all woods except for the south shore, which was a shallow, weedy area. We could have camped anywhere in these woods along the lake, but I found a rocky bay with a perfect clearing on the southwest side where we could pitch our tent. I also felt this breezy point would keep away the mosquitoes.

Soon, we started the fire with the help of my fire starter, filled the bucket with lake water and put in a can of beans alongside the fire. We put the duck on the grill and continued to make camp. We then pitched the tent and blew up the air mattress.

When we went down to pull the boat to shore, it scraped the bottom. After we unloaded it, the boat was floating again better in the shallows so we tied the anchor onshore so we wouldn’t lose it. Back at our camp we put the water bottles on a plastic garbage bag and covered them with a wet towel. I felt the evaporating water on the towel would help keep the waters cool.

After we had finished all of this, supper was ready. We ate and just relaxed until we were tired enough to go to sleep. And after our very busy first day, it did not take long for us to do so even though we were very excited about this trip and the upcoming week.

We will continue our camping adventure next month in part two.