One of my favorite places in the autumn is northern Wisconsin, particularly the Three Lakes and Eagle River area. I have wonderful memories of time spent there with family and friends, and the thought of missing a fall trip “Up North” makes my heart ache.
So, as if our September and October weren’t busy enough, Greg and I booked a weekend trip to Three Lakes, staying at a small Airbnb farmhouse on a quiet country road on Big Lake. Saving our PTO days, we decided we’d drive to Three Lakes on Thursday evening and work from the Northwoods on Friday, so we’d be there to kick off the weekend late Friday afternoon.
Looking at the forecast once we arrived, Friday looked like an ideal day for kayaking: partly sunny, almost no wind and in the 70s. Since we’d put in extra hours earlier in the week, we decided to start work late on Friday and start the day with a morning paddle.
We set our alarm earlier than usual, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed down to the lake. The water was glass, and the fall foliage was at peak colors. I took along my expensive Canon camera, too, the first time I’d ever dared to take it out on the water with me.
We paddled from our launch on Big Lake into nearby Dog Lake, then into the adjoining Deer Lake, and in just over an hour, we had reached Big Stone Lake. The beauty of this region is the Chain of Lakes, a group of 15 connected lakes, ranging in size from 865 acres (Big Lake) to 177-202 acres (Deer Lake and Dog Lake) with the smallest being 100 acres (Crystal Lake).
We paddled furiously at times, trying to cover a lot of distance quickly to reach the other lakes, but stopping to take photos of the fall scenery as well. I felt like I was constantly saying, “Look at those trees!” “Oh, look at those trees!” “Oh, look at those trees!” Everywhere I looked—it was so gorgeous, and the vibrant colors were reflected beautifully in the flat lake water.
We saw three eagles—one startled from a tree by a moving boat, another eating its catch of the day along the shore and another sitting on the top of a tall pine tree.
I regret not taking the day off of work because we had to turn around too soon to head back to our computers and remote office. I would loved to have packed a lunch and taken a day trip further into the Chain of Lakes.
Friday evening as the sun set, we took another paddle around Big Lake, absorbing the serenity and natural beauty around us.
On Saturday, it was raining on and off, but we took advantage of a dry spell in the mid-afternoon to go paddling again. This time, rather than go under the bridge into Dog Lake, we headed a different direction, moving from Big Lake toward Whitefish Lake, down a long, winding waterway. The clouds were ominous but we paddled out about an hour, making it halfway to Whitefish Lake. Some light sprinkles turned into a steady but short-lived rainfall. We took shelter under the pine trees along shore. When it stopped raining, we turned around and headed back the way we’d come.
Since the rain was holding off, we took a quick detour by Greg’s grandparents’ old house on the channel along Big Lake. The place looks in pretty good shape after all these years!
Once we were back on Big Lake, we paddled steadily homeward. We were getting close—the dock was just around one last bend—when we noticed heavy rain coming at us across the lake. The last motor boat on the lake took off toward shelter at high speed. I felt like we were gliding across the water, paddling so hard, but I knew we couldn’t out paddle the incoming rain. When it finally caught us, all I could do was laugh. We got SOAKED!
This past weekend in Three Lakes, we added more great memories to a long list of good times. Next fall, I may work remotely from the Northwoods for a whole week, so I can spend more time immersing myself in the quiet Northwoods, eating chocolates from Tremblay’s in Eagle River, hiking, biking, kayaking—and experiencing fall at its best.