By Jessica Allen, owner, The Hiker Box
If you’re brave enough to test the season’s unpredictable weather, you can set up camp at one of our campgrounds. Spend your days hiking through our scenic Northwoods and unwind with nights around the campfire. Remember to pack warm or just bring up your RV or camper for added comfort.
It’s easy to feel cozy while tent camping in any kind of weather (or temperature) with a couple of quick tips: Spread a groundsheet or tarp out underneath your tent. This will prevent moisture in the ground from dampening your actual tent floor and your spirits. Make sure the groundsheet is a little smaller than the tent floor so that in case of rain it does not become a funnel.
Take extra care to remove any sticks and stones from the ground before setting up your tent. It can be easy to want to rush camp set-up, especially if you are tired after a long day. But taking extra time to investigate the best tent spot and remove uncomfortable debris can go a long way in getting a good night’s sleep. If dry leaves/pine needles are at your campsite, rake some into the area you plan to tent to add extra cushion.
Lastly, make sure you have a sleeping pad/blow up mattress that is comfortable and insulated. A lot of people don’t realize how much heat they can lose to the cold ground. A sleeping pad should have an insulation R-value just like many home insulation materials do. The higher the R-value, the toastier you will sleep.
Whether you are tent camping, car camping, or RVing, plan for ‘what ifs’ such as rainy weather, bad temperatures, or even cranky vacation mates. Be prepared with some backup activities and treats. Maybe there’s a favorite board game that gets people into a good mood, or a special camp dessert you can plan to bring that can make frowns turn upside down. Ask local DNR for the conditions of trails so you can dress appropriately. Research the area for great inside activities and restaurants in case foul weather chases you from camp. Planning for extenuating circumstances will make your experience more fun, and everyone loves the person who saves the day.
Most importantly, don’t let the “what ifs” keep you from enjoying the Northwoods this spring. Hiking and camping during “off season” times has a ton of benefits. You get a better selection of campsites, the facilities and trails aren’t crowded, and you get to see an almost entirely different landscape. When hiking with no leaves on trees, the views stretch further. It can also be easier to spot wildlife. There is something wonderous about seeing mother nature as she is just waking up for spring. You can experience so many “firsts” while in the woods early – first crocus bloom, first loon call, first chipmunk scolding you for not sharing your trail mix. The Northwoods are beautiful 365 days a year, don’t let another day go by not enjoying them.