Camp, fish, and explore the Whisker lake wilderness area of the Nicolet National Forest just west of Florence Wisconsin.
My friend Joe and I arrived at Perch Lake the morning of the 24th of May and planned to camp overnight. As soon as we stepped into the forest I noticed a plant I had read about and seen a couple of times in my childhood. Trillium. The forest was littered with it. (Littered is definitely not the best choice of words for this beautiful flowering wild edible.) I was fairly convinced it was Trilluim, (which was one of Euell Gibbons favorite wild edibles) so I started munching on a leaf. It tasted like spicy lettuce.
Joe exhibited ALOT of trust in my judgement and was snacking on Trillium and other wild edibles with me. (Caution: Properly identify and prepare wild edibles before consuming).
Before long we were thinking, ‘why did we bring food with us?’ It was all around us, free for the taking.
I soon spotted what looked like wild leeks, but with so many look alikes, I wanted to be sure. Eventually it was the smell that gave it away. The forest was tinged with the aroma of onion. I ended up collecting a bit to bring home and made a dinner of a white bass and wild leek.
(I must mention that this was perhaps the worst fish filleting I have ever done. Not only did it take me forever to fillet the 13 inch white bass, but I managed to somehow include every bone possible. Other than that it was quite tasty – Ellie liked the wild leek too!)
Our campsite was really nice on the west side of Perch lake. I was right in thinking we’d beat the Memorial day crowd to the five campsites by getting there so early on Friday.
Here is the view from our campsite:
and at night:
After setting up camp we went on a hike around lake Lauterman. We sampled some cattail shoots and had some great conversations.
The fishing at Perch lake was not what we expected. Apparently some ice fisherman with way to much time on his hands emptied the lake last winter of the massive Bluegill we had been told about. Or they were just avoiding my big and very obvious yellow canoe.
The cons of the trip:
1.) Ticks! We pulled off dozens of ticks while we were there and I spent the first few hours in my sleeping bag removing ticks and throwing them out the tent. The first thing I googled when I got home was “how to remove a tick” as I found that two had attached to my leg.
The highlights of the trip:
2.) The wild edibles. It was cool to enjoy God’s bountiful provision of wild foods all around us on the trip. We ran into a couple who had an interest in wild foods as well and they asked me about which fern fiddleheads were good to eat and how to prepare them (by the way, fern fiddleheads must be cooked and avoid those covered with fuzzy hairs – otherwise enjoy like asparagus).
3.) The workout. Who needs P90X when you are lugging backpacks, hiking, portaging canoes and paddling around a lake. It was great!
Next time we’ll bring nothing but a knife, flint and a few survival essentials and survive a week in the rugged remote wilderness… or not.