Link to Wisconsin DNR’s Pattison State Park Page
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Not too close
Well, Kyle thought I was crazy when I told him about this one. It’s been a long time since we were there, but it remains one of my favorite trips we’ve had. I had a few weeks between changing jobs just before the 4th of July in 2014 and Kyle’s work was also shut down at the same time. We both had time off, but didn’t have the funds to go on some big vacation, so I planned some spur of the moment camping (I still think it’s the best kind!)
I logged onto ReserveAmerica.com (back in the day) and looked at what was available. Nothing nearby or on the eastern side of the state was available. I didn’t want to go anywhere he’d been before with his parents. I knew it would be a long trip, but I talked him into driving all the way up to Pattison State Park from Milwaukee.
We were able to go during the week. I literally booked the trip, woke up the next morning and shopped, packed and loaded the car, and were off the next morning. It was that fateful night that I learned about MilesPaddled.com, and boy am I glad I did. So off we went, food, gear and kayaks in tow.
The campground was practically empty. It was just before everyone was coming in for the 4th of July holiday, and we were one of very few tents there (this was before we inherited our pop up). We had big plans for our 5 day trip, hiking, kayaking, going to Superior, going to see Amnicon State Park. I hadn’t seen Lake Superior since I was a kid, and it was cool seeing Duluth on the other side. I’ve always been amazed how the other side of the St. Croix River is raised up higher than Wisconsin, I have yet to do the research as to why though.
The hiking in this park is awesome, the lake and little falls were beautiful, but holy moly, the mosquitos were HORRIBLE. They love me, as in while we were hiking, my husband saw a swarm around me and a line following behind me. Luckily it wasn’t too warm when we were there, so wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts wasn’t unbearable. But boy, I would’ve been happy if insect repellant clothing was around then.
The beauty of the Northwoods of Wisconsin is unparalleled. A beach in the Caribbean has it’s own beauty, but there’s something about the deep green and smell of a pine forest. Pattison is beautiful, and on the one sun-shiny day we had we used the knowledge from MilesPaddled.com and went kayaking on the Bois Brule River.
In most places where river paddling is common you can find an outfitter that will rent kayaks and some that will tow your kayaks with you. We found Brule River Canoe Rental. We left our kayaks with them to put on their trailer and drove our SUV to the final location and then they picked us up and dropped us and our kayaks off at the start location. It was our first time kayaking on a river, we both dumped on the first rapids and he dumped on the third set, but once we got the hang of things, it was an awesome experience.
And I don’t know how many other people experience something like this, but sometimes I can feel this heaviness in a place. Ellis Island is a good example, just walking through the main hall you could feel this heavy feeling, it wasn’t necessarily creepy, but imagining all of the people that walked through there, the feeling of coming to this country, the relief to be off the boat, the fear of being in a new place. I can almost feel the emotion of a place. I felt the same thing on this river. It didn’t last long, but it was there. It wasn’t until we were done that we came across a historical marker, and I’m a sucker for those. I’m a history nut, I even have a Bachelor’s degree in it.
I don’t think enough people think about what came before us in this country. The atrocities we committed on the Indians, I don’t think we can ever repay them for what we did and what we’ve done to their lands. What I felt on that paddle trip down the Bois Brule was a bloody, terrible battle between the Sioux and the Chippewa that happened on the river banks, right around where we were. Whatever went down there, the Sioux never came back.
It’s things like that feeling that couldn’t happen without exploring the state. You might wonder why the historical signs are there, why anyone cares. Well, I care and even if we don’t stop, I can at least look it up it a few miles down the road.
In all, there’s a ton to do in the park, but be ready for skeeters. Repellant clothing, tiki torches, fogger, whatever you have, bring it all because you do not want to miss this park!