A New Challenge: 52 Lakes by Kayak

April 08, 2018

Chrissy generously submitted some photos for the site's Views  page, but it was apparent that there was more to her story based on her background and social media. We're excited to feature how a 2017 goal turned into her 2018 challenge, which she talks about below! You can follow her progress at sustainwisconsin.org or at @hiking.gradstudent! Thanks for sharing your lake love, and we're thrilled to see you take on those 52 lakes in 2018! 

 Woman kayaking on a lake in the midwest

This past summer was my very first time on a kayak. Yes, I realize this is nothing new or special as many people in their mid 20’s pick up new hobbies and there’s a first time for everything. However, I have always been a water lover.  A bit about myself: the first twenty years of my life I lived in a city nestled along Lake Michigan and went to college at UW-Green Bay where a walk to the “bay,” as we called it, was less than a mile away. I continued living not too far from the bay of Green Bay and work in Door County, which is surrounded by Lake Michigan on either side. I spent a few summers working in the Wisconsin Northwoods driving boats, working at boat landings the last few summers, and I spent a summer canoeing at a camp. So, I definitely have a love for water and spend most of my free time getting in the water when I can. This is part of the reason I’m still a little baffled with myself that I didn’t get into a kayak until less than a year ago?!

Well, when I finally did start kayaking I absolutely fell in love. My first lake was Pickerel Lake, a hidden gem north of Wausau and nearby the town of Tomahawk. Pickerel Lake is beautiful all year round. But if I had to choose a favorite time of year, I would definitely choose fall. The colors are so vibrant and I could lay on the dock for hours with a hot cup of coffee on a brisk fall morning. It was a memorable experience as the first day out I saw an adorable pair of loons, one of my favorite birds. I should also mention that I am not only a graduate student in environmental science and policy but I’m also a plant nerd, both terrestrial and aquatic plants, so I spend a lot of my time on my kayak digging my paddle in the water to see what cool finds I can get to. I am not only fascinated by water, but what’s inside that water…plants, mussels, and something as cool as the freshwater sponge. You will always find me looking for new things by the lake.

 door county kayak

I continued to explore a few more of Wisconsin’s great inland lakes from Clark Lake in Door County to Mauthe Lake in the Kettle Morraine State Forest Northern Unit and discovered each lake is unique in its own way. I always pack my water, sunscreen, towel, and of course a big old bag of snacks…salty, sweet, and savory of course! And I have my swim suit underneath in case I need to cool off on a hot, humid summer day. This was the life.

I decided to challenge myself and create a New Year’s Resolution that will encourage me to get out and check out more lakes in Wisconsin via kayak. So this year I am kayaking on 52 bodies of water! (I am also hiking 520 miles…sticking with the 52 theme for 52 weeks in a year.) I have not yet started the kayaking portion of the challenge as most lakes are frozen over, but I hope to start soon. If you are looking for more time to get outside, challenging yourself is the answer. I set these goals before the New Year and made them my 2018 goals. My 2017 goal was to try something new, which also happened to be kayaking. If you haven’t kayaked before, try it out. If you have, go to a new lake in Wisconsin or even outside the state and find your next favorite lake. Chances are you haven’t been on every lake yet. Every lake is its own hidden gem. Each lake has something unique to offer. While the views are always familiar, there is something new in every visit. I am so excited to get back on the water and discover even more Wisconsin lakes this year!

 wisconsin lake kayak adventure







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Chrissy Bartelme

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