Experiencing Wisconsin

May 23rd, 2016

The Wisconsin Experience gets a lot of talk at UW-Madison, right alongside the Wisconsin Idea. In the interest of having the best Wisconsin Experience, it follows that actually experiencing Wisconsin is pretty important. There are plenty of great ways to go about exploring Wisconsin, especially with summer finally here. Here are a few ideas to give your summer an extra punch, all courtesy of Steenbock collections.

Hiking is a go-to way to spend a day the Wisconsin way. Just within a half hour drive from Madison there are dozens of trails, and Wisconsin as a whole contains more than 2,700 miles of hiking trails! If you don’t mind a bit of travelling, the Apostle Island sea caves are always a beautiful sight, and an excuse to kayak (a return trip in winter to see the ice caves is never a bad idea, either). Devil’s Lake
isn’t nearly as far, and offers an abundant variety of trails: whether you’re looking for a scenic route or a challenge, Devil’s Lake can always accommodate. For more info, check out Walking Trails of Eastern and Central Wisconsin by Bob Crawford.

Speaking of Devil’s Lake, rock climbing is always exciting. As a disclaimer: you should never go climbing without an experienced friend, and the correct equipment. That said, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of ways to meet people and get started in Madison: The Serf has a very affordable climbing wall and friendly staff; Hoofers Outing and Mountaineering both make frequent trips to Devil’s Lake; and you won’t find a friendlier bunch than the folk at Boulder’s Gym—of course, Steenbock is here to help too. While you’ll need to bring your own skill and equipment, Sven Olof Swartling’s Climber’s Guide to Devil’s Lake has all the information you could ask for.

Few Badgers would be surprised to hear that fishing is popular in Madison. All of the local lakes have populous pan-fish, and many have strong populations of their larger cousins: walleye and bass are especially plentiful. Lake Mendota is famous for big catches, and there are plenty of spots around Picnic Point that have proved themselves over the years. For those feeling especially patriotic, Lake Wingra is home to four times the average amount of Muskie, our state fish. If you’re interested in more information on fishing in our state, Wisconsin: a Great State to Fish! by Kim Giese would be worth a read. Don’t forget a fishing license, either! For a first time buyer, the DNR offers special $5 price.

Last but not least—if the above activities seem a bit too standard, give papermaking a shot this summer. Wisconsin had a papermaking industry before it was even a state, and is still number one in the United States. Since Wisconsin still produces around five million tons of paper annually, it isn’t surprising that both UW-Madison and Edgewood College offer courses related to the subject. Marianne Saddington’s Making Your Own Paper could be used as a guide, and the entire process could easily be done in a day. With materials made at home, making paper is as simple as pulp, seize, dry. Show up to class next Fall with your own handmade, 100% Wisconsin notebook!

By Kieran Villoth

Kieran is a UW-Madison senior working towards a degree in English Literature. He works with Holding History, ISIP, and Special Collections. In the near future, he hopes to revisit his family in Kerala.

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