Sayner Chill 2013

Dad's teaching the boy how to hold a fishing pole in the place where he learned almost thirty years before: the lakes just north of Sayner.

A few photos: Click each thumbnail for a larger image and slideshow.

The view from the playground overlooking the piers.The view from the playground overlooking the piers. The first couple nights were very cold, but the water was warm.The first couple nights were very cold, but the water was warm. The warm water in the shallows was full of scrappy little panfish defending their nests.The warm water in the shallows was full of scrappy little panfish defending their nests. There was a mist coming off the warm water all night long.There was a mist coming off the warm water all night long. Staying warm was not a problem so long as we had firewood from Razorback Road.Staying warm was not a problem so long as we had firewood from Razorback Road. An attempt (however bad) to phtograph the Milky Way.An attempt (however bad) to photograph the Milky Way. The boy hanging down at the beach and showing off his whale pendant.The boy hanging down at the beach and showing off his whale pendant. Ana's beach hat.Ana's beach hat. There was a family of ducks this year completely unimpressed with the presence of humans.There was a family of ducks this year completely unimpressed with the presence of humans. One of the many hummingbirds that fly around the Woodlands.One of the many hummingbirds that fly around the Woodlands. Look up once in a while.Look up once in a while. The kids are famished after a long day playing.The kids are famished after a long day playing. Wheee! (Note the outfit bought in SF's Chinatown.)Wheee! (Note the outfit bought in SF's Chinatown.) The loons seemed just as unimpressed.The loons seemed just as unimpressed. Classic sunset scene at the Oak's pier.Classic sunset scene at the Oak's pier. This eagle was perched across the lake. We captured the photo via outboard motor.This eagle was perched across the lake. We captured the photo via outboard motor. Pensive thoughts with Grandma.Pensive thoughts with Grandma. Micah wondering how cold the water is today.Micah wondering how cold the water is today. Grandpa took the boat out only once this year.Grandpa took the boat out only once this year. Just another horrifying boat spider.Just another horrifying boat spider. Fishing via kayak was usually faster than loading the motorized jonboat.Fishing via kayak was usually faster than loading the motorized jonboat. The stealth way to experience Plum Lake.The stealth way to experience Plum Lake. In the weeds looking back at the big island.In the weeds looking back at the big island. What is Grandma doing?!What is Grandma doing?! A frog caught alongside the pier.A frog caught alongside the pier. Smiling lessons with Uncle Micah.Smiling lessons with Uncle Micah. Taking a ride around Plum Lake with Mommy and Daddy.Taking a ride around Plum Lake with Mommy and Daddy. Don't tangle the lines... We used tiny lures to grab tiny panfish.Don't tangle the lines... We used tiny lures to grab tiny panfish. We got a microscopic perch for Andrew to kiss.We got a microscopic perch for Andrew to kiss. "Hello, Andrew!" says the perch. This one is a little bigger. They loved hanging around these branches.This one is a little bigger. They loved hanging around these branches. An eagle intently watched us fish from his perch 20 feet above our heads.An eagle intently watched us fish from his perch 20 feet above our heads. Also not an impressive fish. But, at least, it is a fish.Also not an impressive fish. But, at least, it is a fish. Effortlessly, Andrew catches a tiny bluegill.Effortlessly, Andrew catches a tiny bluegill. Watch your fingers on the bluegill spines.Watch your fingers on the bluegill spines. His usual story: His usual story: "The fish was THIS big!" Meanwhile, back as camp, Ana is splishy-splashing.Meanwhile, back as camp, Ana is splishy-splashing. A creek near St. Germaine where we spotted a pair of wading eagles.A creek near St. Germaine where we spotted a pair of wading eagles. An eagle fishing low down in the creek fishing.An eagle fishing low down in the creek fishing. Crayfish trying to get back in the water.Crayfish trying to get back in the water. The Woodlands from Plum Lake during the cold night.The Woodlands from Plum Lake during the cold night. One of the dozens of toads that hops around the paths between the cottages at night.One of the dozens of toads that hops around the paths between the cottages at night. Andrew practicing his paddling technique.Andrew practicing his paddling technique. "All aboard that's going aboard!" Paddling in Dad Bay looking for big bass.Paddling in Dad Bay looking for big bass. More tiny perch hiding under the pads.More tiny perch hiding under the pads. Loons stretching out before dipping back udnerwater.Loons stretching out before dipping back udnerwater. Lillypad flower during a misty morning paddling trip.Lillypad flower during a misty morning paddling trip. One of the bigger bluegills of the dozens of little fighters we pulled in.One of the bigger bluegills of the dozens of little fighters we pulled in. This fawn was hiding at the shore in the wild rice.This fawn was hiding at the shore in the wild rice. After a long day of tubing and paddling...After a long day of tubing and paddling... On the way home, we stopped for a fish pedicure at Devils Lake SP.On the way home, we stopped for a fish pedicure at Devils Lake SP. Devils Lake was formed by glaciers scraping through the Driftless Region.Devils Lake was formed by glaciers scraping through the Driftless Region. We also stopped for sunset on good old Lake Ripley near Cambridge, WI.We also stopped for sunset on good old Lake Ripley near Cambridge, WI.

Statistics:

Dates: July 27 to Aug. 3, 2013

 

Home bases: The Woodlands Resort, 'Oak' Cottage & 'Hillcrest' Cottage

Areas Explored: Vilas County & Devils Lake, Wisconsin

Transportation: 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, the Viper kayak, and a rented outboard motor

New Frontiers: Ana's first visit to the Northwoods

Cast: Jessica, Andrew, Scott, Anastasia, Barbara, Cheryl, Mark, Micah, Marlin

 

See the 2012 Sayner trip

See ALL past Sayner trips 

 

Trip Notes: We had a rather chilly start to our Plum Lake adventure this year, but later in the week things warmed up (at least in the afternoon) enough for swimming and beach-related activities.

 

It was our sixth year at the Woodlands' Oak cottage on Plum Lake. We were joined by Mom and Dad who stayed at the Hillcrest cottage, the one closest to the Oak's pier. This was a good thing since usually, at least I feel, we are imposing on the residents of that cottage when we use our pier. (Of course, this is silly Midwestern over-politeness.) The Hillcrest opened up in the spring and Hillery (the innkeeper in residence) let me know so I could expand.

 

All of this serendipity happened after I decided to downsize at the end of last year's trip. Hillery also showed me some of his impressive upgrades in other cottages. I did not know about these since I have been renting from his partner the past six years. The most impressive additions were pieces from Hillery's huge American Indian artifact collection.

 

Whatever the case, we tried to get down to the business of our usual relaxation, but the air turned very cold at night, getting down to the 40's. While the air was chilly, the lake water remained very warm, as it usually is in August. This caused a fog and mist to linger over the water. I paddled into it to see what I could fish out, while others took to more indoorsy, dry activities. 

 

Fishing has picked up greatly from year's past. Some friends have taken to calling Plum Lake "No Fish Lake." While the fish were certainly not big this year, they were fighting and numerous. This is a trend that began last year and I am hoping next year will be even more productive. We caught perch and bluegills using a new type of tiny lure purchased down at St. Germain Sport & Marine. I did most of my fishing from the quick to launch kayak, continuing the kayak fishing experiments I began during May's trip to Little Pleasant Lake. The yellow color of the hull seemed to scare off the bigger fish, but this could just be me justifying my poor fishing. It was fun and addicting pulling in the little fighters from Dad Bay and along the rice patches just west of the resort.

 

It wasn't all paddling. We also took time to zoom around on our rented outboard motor looking for eagles and loons. We hiked, swam, shopped at the huge St. Germain flea market, played at the playground, ate ice cream at the Corner Store, and drove the winding roads through the hemlocks. One drive in search of a fish fry was a bit disappointing, but we have a lead for next year. We ended up settling for a restaurant in St. Germain attended by a surly bunch of chain-smoking old ladies.

 

At night, fires were attended to, crayfish were gathered, and stars were successfully gazed. It being a new moon this year, the stars were particularly spectacular. The Milky Way and myriad shooting stars filled the sky. (Usually our week lands squarely on a bright full moon.) Every night was ushered in by the cry of the loons and put to rest by the hooting of owls.

 

Seeing Ana enjoy her week was rewarding since it was her first time to this place I love. She enjoyed the water and attempting to eat the sand and every pinecone and acorn she could get her hands on. Andrew is an expert at enjoying his "Oak House," as he calls it. He knows exactly what to do. He also enjoyed visiting "Other Grandma" and Grandpa down the hill whenever he wanted. There's nothing better than having two grandmas nearby to lavish attention on you.

 

Dad's knee was bothering him horribly and this will go down in his memory probably as the trip that convinced him to get it fixed up. He is now post-op and I hope he will be full of vim and vigor and attack the lakes with me next year. He lands the pikes while I always end up with the baitfish. It is because he is patient (in a fishing context at least.)

 

On the way home we stopped at Devils Lake, a place I have long been curious about. I stopped to drive around and swim. It was very crowded since it was a weekend and a warm, sunny day. I was surprised to wade into a soup of thousands of minnows that gummed earnestly at my toes. The lake is surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs carved out by a scraping glacier. After this, we headed to Cambridge to see the old plot and attempt to watch the sun set. The area on the hill above the lake, where in the '90's we used to see beautiful sunsets over Lake Ripley, was built up and the view was blocked. It will have to live in my memory, something I hope never becomes the fate of the Woodlands on Plum Lake. 

 

(recollections by Scott, jotted down several months later) 

 

 
Looking east from the entrance to "Dad Bay" on Plum Lake.
• Photos (c) 2013 by S. Plencner, J. Bezold • All other content (c) 2013 by S. Plencner •