LIVING IN FAR north Wisconsin certainly has its high points. Maybe not a mid-April snowstorm delivering 15 inches or so of the white stuff, but lots of other high points.

The highest of the high is having more than 1,000 lakes of all sizes and descriptions to go with hundreds of thousands of acres of woods to play in right here in Vilas County.

Since I broke three ribs a month ago — they are healing nicely, thank you — I have been restrained to visiting the same half-dozen places several times each week. One of the best therapies for broken ribs I have found is walking two dogs for a mile or two or three at least four or five times a week.

I hate to put my dogs on leashes, so our walking destinations have been extremely limited. But even though I have been anxiously awaiting snowmelt to open more places up, I’ve not grown tired of the few stretches of back road already available for free-range running.

I’m lucky that within a few miles of my house, I have a half-dozen stretches of road, where I can take my dogs for a run with only about a one in 1,000 chance of seeing another person, dog or car.

One such short stretch is Plum Vitae Road leading to Musky Mountain, only a whoop and a holler from my house. Parking at the intersection with Highway N, we get three-tenths of a mile to the old ski hill parking lot and another quarter mile to the top of the mountain via an access road winding around, back and up to where the now-unused fire tower still stands. With the round trip back, we get more than a mile walk, which was more than enough for me when I started walking it a few days after breaking my ribs.

You know, no matter how many times I go to the top of Musky Mountain, and that is probably 50 times a year, I never tire of looking out across the wide panorama of north Wisconsin beauty it affords. For the most part, you can’t see near as much as when the ski hill was in operation, but even a heavy growth of trees can’t block all of the views and what I can’t see with my eyes today, I can remember in absolute clarity in the memories of my mind.

I have found that during the work week Molly, Gordie and I almost always have the plowed portions of the Crystal Lake campground road all to ourselves. It’s pretty much flat ground walking and despite the nearness of traffic on Highway N, it’s still a beautiful walk to take. On the north shore road around to the picnic ground you have a nice view of the lake and yet are protected from the wind by a stand of old-growth pine.

On that section, especially, I tend to let my mind wander back to the days when Highway N ran between Crystal and Big Muskellunge lakes; days when our swimming beach was a mere 10 feet or so from the road. It was a place for swimming and for many people, a place to take a bar of soap for a bath. Beat the heck out of the galvanized washtub which served as my bathing tub Saturday nights during the nonsummer months when I was a wee lad.

Shorter walks take me to Plum Lake at the state camp¬≠¬≠ground, to the old Camp Warwick for girls and to Statehouse Point, where a boat landing and water ski show site now occupy the property once the home of buildings used by the old Wisconsin Conservation Department as a state forest center. Each time I walk to the boat landing, I remember early days when I would visit there and get to ride a Shetland pony owned by the site manager’s family.

My walks to Camp Warwick never fail to bring back memories of my youth and the anticipation I had of following the lead of my older brothers, who used to sneak out of our house on summer nights to meet up with female camp counselors at the camp’s old horse corral. Amazingly, the girls never got caught abandoning their posts and my brothers, though never caught by camp owners Miss Marshall and Miss James, never fooled my mother, who had ears that never failed to catch the sound of blue jeans scraping on a big oak tree which served as an escape and reentry route outside the dormer window of our bedroom.

Unfortunately for me, by the time I was old enough to make the half-mile nighttime walk through the woods to the camp for the purpose of pursuing young maidens, Miss James and Miss Marshall, quite elderly by then, closed the camp. Oh, what might have been.

My latest walk with the dogs, taken last Friday before the spring storm of the century, was along one of the most beautiful scenic byways to be found anywhere. I parked at the South Trout Lake boat landing and in short order, the dogs and I were off walking a 3.2-mile round trip on Ben Bendrick Drive. The road, basically abandoned in wintertime save for a few ice fishermen, has beauty you have to see to believe.

At times, the road parallels the lakeshore mere feet from the edges of a steep bank dropping straight down to the lake. It’s always shouldering the lake and along its entire length it offers fabulous views of the largest, deepest lake in Vilas County. Huge pines line the lake side of the road, while second-growth timber protects a cold, windy day walker from the other.

I took my time last Friday, savoring the beauty I had all to myself. At the north-end rustic boat landing, the dogs raced along the shore, splashing in a 6-foot wide ribbon of open water, surely the first swimmers/waders the lake has seen this year.

On the return walk to the car, I plowed through a snow bank to walk off the road to a waiting bench that welcomes people to a quiet, peaceful view of the lake at any time of the year. I sat there for 15 minutes or so, simply savoring all the beauty South Trout has to offer.

Now, another blizzard has, temporarily anyway, blanketed these favored winter routes of mine and my dogs. But soon, maybe, stronger rays of sunshine will finally melt it all, allowing the three of us, plus my lovely wife who joins us for evening walks after work, to wander other trails and backwoods lanes that we have come to love and enjoy for many decades.