While hiking through rough terrain in the woods can get you to some interesting places, it’s not the kind of hiking you want to do for a good cardio workout. The risks associated with hiking through a hilly tangle of roots and brush preclude a brisk hiking pace. Fortunately for us, there’s a wonderful alternative; a hiking / biking / X-country Ski trail that extends eight and one-half miles from the outskirts of Eagle River to the village of Three Lakes. It was built by volunteers and funded by local businesses. The path is a smooth, compacted sand/fine gravel mix that crosses a couple of rivers and meanders through a diverse mix of dense pine forest, mixed hardwoods, meadows and bogs. When the trail traverses a bog, it does so via a long boardwalk.
Judi and I work to get 30 to 45 minutes of cardio exercise every day. Most of the time it’s done on our treadmill. Boring as heck but it’s convenient and effective. Now that the weather’s decent and the nasty biting bugs have yet to show, a cardio hike on the Three Lakes Trail is a perfect alternative to the incessant drone of our treadmill.
Last week our dog, my binoculars and my camera came along with me on a Three Lakes Trail cardio hike. We moved along at a brisk pace covering about six miles round trip. It’s still early spring so there isn’t much greenery – just a few small buds here and there and maybe a small white hepatica bloom if you look carefully. The Tamarack bog is an interesting exception. A pale light suffuses the Tamarack bog and softly highlights it’s rich, verdant green floor. It’s hard to capture in a photograph what it feels like emotionally when you’re in the Tamarack bog but I gave it a shot.
Yesterday, our neighbor called us to ask if we wanted to see a bear den he discovered. He’s a logger and while assaying a forty acre stand deep in the forest he came across a remarkable bear den. The property and den are accessed via a gated logging road about three miles in from the county road. My neighbor needed to move his log skidder to the potential cut and Judi and I agreed to give him a ride home in exchange for a view of the bear den. We parked and hiked an old game trail for about a quarter mile to find the den. Our effort was rewarded with a really impressive den that looked big enough to hold a really impressive bear. The den’s owner was out. I suspect he was trying to avoid the local paparazzi.