Wisconsin’s Lake Kegonsa State Park, Winter Edition, My First Winter Hike

Oh winter, how you never end. I’ve always admired winter hikers, the tenacity to be out there on the snowy trail when it’s no degrees outside and there are icicles forming on their eyelashes. My personal hiking season is typically late April through November. Maybe December if it’s a warm month. That leaves me with 3-4 months of time to hide indoors from the elements.

Well not this year. Thanks to COVID shaving a few months off the front end of the 2020 hiking season while also keeping me from a normal winter warm-weather getaway, I was feeling the cabin fever earlier than usual. After taking the dog for a walk on the same quarter mile of bike path for the millionth time, I thought it was time to give this a try.

The park of choice to try this out was Lake Kegonsa State Park. This is a park I’m familiar with and is close enough to my house to be low investment in case I hated it. Plus I have to drive by a Culver’s on the route home so, you know, the trip wouldn’t be totally lost if I only stayed out for 10 minutes.

I decided that a 31 degree afternoon was warm enough. Before putting on my layers of layers, I checked out something I’ve never looked at before; the winter park map. It should be observed that not all summer hiking trails are open to hikers in the winter. Many, if not most, of the trails become cross country skiing trails in the winter.

Once arriving, we parked in the parking lot near the only options for hiking. From here we did a combination of the trail loops and walked on the frozen lake for a bit. Let’s hike!

I will admit I wasn’t sure what to expect of the trail conditions as the ground was snow covered. I was pleased to find that the trails themselves were very packed down from the heavy foot traffic. This made walking much easier without the addition of snowshoes.

In the summer this area is filled with areas of water and aquatic plants. It looks so different in the winter.

Usually you walk on wooden planks while crossing this bridge. Now, it looks more like a fence than a bridge.

The view from on top of the bridge. This persistent water refused to be frozen by old man winter.

Now onto the frozen lake. This was especially difficult to capture in a picture as there was very little contrast for the camera to latch onto. The lake and the sky were essentially the same color. You can see all the ice fishing shanties in the distance.

The camera especially didn’t know what to do with an all black dog. She sat so nicely for a picture only to look like a featureless black puppy shape.

But, if I messed with the brightness and the contrast of the photo…

There she is! She wasn’t a huge fan of walking on the lake. She could probably hear all the water below and thought we were nuts for doing this.

The peaks of snow and ice looked like waves.

The formerly shown creek now making it’s way to the lake.

It was refreshing to see a color other than white and various shades of brown. The red really pops with a not so busy background.

Excuse the water spot on my lens. This old behemoth of a tree looked especially impressive without its leaves.

So that was it! My first winter hiking adventure. My take away, I didn’t hate it! Sure, it was cold, it was more difficult to take pictures with gloves, and the dog whined a lot. Counterpoints, the outside air was refreshing, some pictures turned out stunning, and the dog always whines a lot. I see the appeal and I’m not ready to write it off yet. Maybe the most telling thing of my mood afterwards, I didn’t stop for a Culver’s pick-me-up on the way home!

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