A Weekend In Hayward, WI: Skiing on Spider Lake and Hiking in Chequamegon National Forest

Hello friends,

You may have noticed that I haven’t written a blog post in awhile—not since my Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis post. Between then and now, I attended a second march called the Justice for Jamar Unity March. I uploaded videos to my Youtube page, if you want to see speeches and footage of the march.

Well, pertaining to my blog’s inactivity, let’s just say that I was on a hiatus.

Though this blog was silent for a few months, I must tell you that I kept myself very busy. Obviously, the holidays came and went. I welcomed the new year with friends, family, and finishing Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—what a fantastic way to start a new year. In early January, I started two new jobs. One job, I am a snowshoeing guide for L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School. I lead day trips and Starlight tours in Hyland Lake Park Reserve’s Richardson Nature Center. It’s a fantastic part-time job. I’ll continue into the warmer months as a kayak and paddle boarding instructor. For my second job, I work in the human services realm as an Independent Living Specialist (ILS). It is my first time in this line of work and I’ve been enjoying it. Continuing into mid-January, I moved into an apartment in St. Paul with a friend of mine. I’ve loved living in St. Paul, especially since I live so close to the Mississippi River. And, lastly, in late January, my twin sister, Colleen, arrived [from China] to the Twin Cities to spend over three weeks with family.

Colleen and I and wafflesColleen and I made waffles to celebrate her arrival to the USA.

There were many highlights while Colleen was in town, but the two main ones were hosting a Wisconsin cabin getaway with friends and backcountry snowshoeing across Louisville Swamp in the Minnesota River Valley Wildlife Refuge. I’ll focus on the cabin party in this post, since I believe that Louisville Swamp deserves a whole post on its own.

IMG_3032A Weekend In Hayward, WI: Skiing on Spider Lake and Hiking in Chequamegon National Forest

A year ago, my twin sister visited and the one thing she asked of me was, “Molly, plan an awesome party for me!” Well, to be honest with you, I failed on planning a fun event for her a year ago, but I wasn’t going to let that happen again. This year, during my sister’s visit, I planned a bunch of fun things, one including a Cabin Getaway Extravaganza! I invited a dozen friends to join my sister and I to share a weekend off of Spider Lake just outside of Hayward, WI. (Thank you Mary and Rick for graciously letting my friends and I use your cabin!)

Many of the attendees arrived on Friday night. My sister was kind enough to cook us all an authentic Chinese meal and then the rest of the evening was spent playing board games, chatting, and staying up late laughing about who knows what.

IMG_3000The sunrise over Whiplash Lake

I woke up early on Saturday morning—before dawn— to go on a solo snowshoe hike. Before setting out, I enjoyed walking from my room to the garage door and hearing the snores of sleeping friends through cracked doors—what a reassuring sound. Setting off towards Spider Lake at pre-dawn was one of the highlights of my whole weekend. It’s my favorite time of the day, that fleeting moment of morning twilight. I walked on the frozen lake and listened to the distant chickadee calls. Soon, I realized that for prime sunrise watching, I had to migrate to Whiplash Lake. It was a very short hike to Whiplash and I was fortunate to catch the sun come over the tree-line just as I exited the forest trail (see above photo).

I returned to the cabin and found only one friend awake. We made coffee and bacon and, soon enough, several more friend appeared, awoken by the delicious smells. It was decided over breakfast that people wanted to spend the day outdoors, either snowshoeing or skiing.

IMG_3050Snowshoeing and skiing across Spider Lake.

IMG_3073My sister being adorable, as always.

We were fortunate to have warm weather, so most of us spent the whole afternoon outside, enjoying the exercise and sunshine. I couldn’t of thought of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Colleen and IColleen and I


As the day progressed to night, more friends arrived to share in the festivities. Dinner was cooked, a fire was made, and charades was played to celebrate our last evening together. Most of my friends were up late in the night; some were sitting in front of the fire talking about philosophy, a few were cuddling on the couch reminiscing about the past, and several were in the kitchen playing games. If you were curious, I stayed close to the fire.

The next day, I awoke early again, though not as early as before, and invited my sister to join me to Whiplash Lake for a morning hike. We bumped into a couple of friends while leaving and we all ended up at Whiplash together. It resulted in some amazing photo opportunities because the morning fog hadn’t settled yet, resulting in a hauntingly beautiful morning hike.

IMG_3162Hiking to Whiplash LakeIMG_3175The fog was beginning to settle.IMG_3203We hiked across the lake to this section of the forest.

Walking across the frozen, foggy lake was an unforgettable experience. I’m happy to have been able to share the experience with my sister and friends. It was a helluva way to start a Sunday morning.

When we walked back, many more friends were awake, ready to enjoy their last day at the cabin. Several of the people went out on Spider Lake again to practice their snowshoeing and skiing skills. Well, I had decided earlier in the weekend that I wanted to visit Chequamegon National Forest. On a map, it showed that it was only a 15-minute drive to the border, but I didn’t know if there was a hiking trail nearby. My sister, a few friends, and I took the risk and drove East on WI 77 toward the national forest to find a trail.

As we entered the Chequamegon National Forest, not only was there a trailhead, there was also a full blown ski trail and parking lot. We pulled into the lot, paid the national forest fees, and then we were off. I’m sorry to say that I forgot my camera, so the only evidence of our hike was one selfie at the 2-mile turnaround point.

Chemuagen NF selfieObviously, we were having so much fun!

I’m so glad we took the risk to drive to Chequamegon National Forest. The trail itself was well groomed and some of the trail sections wove through old growth conifer forest. Though, most of the sections were newer growth forest bordered by swampy marshland. I wouldn’t recommend this trail during the mosquito hatch—unless you have a bug suit—but I can imagine that during the early spring and fall, this trail would be absolutely beautiful. Spring would bring the delicate wildflowers that thrive in this kind of environment, while Fall would give sweeping views of green conifer forest with the occasional pops of deep yellow from the local aspen and birch trees. Who knows when I’ll be back on this trail, but when I do return, I look forward to sharing the experience with you.

Thanks for reading. In my next post, I’ll write about my experiences snowshoeing across Louisville Swamp with my sister and a few friends.

Much love,


IMG_3229For good measure, here is one last cute picture of Colleen…

3 Comments on “A Weekend In Hayward, WI: Skiing on Spider Lake and Hiking in Chequamegon National Forest

  1. Pingback: Louisville Swamp: Backcountry Snowshoeing to Historic Jab’s Farm | Molly's Journey to the West

  2. Pingback: Madeline Island: Ferry Rides, Fall Colors, and Big Bay State Park | Molly's Journey to the West

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