IN ALL OF Wisconsin, I don’t believe there is anywhere in the state boasting more pure beauty than the woods and waters of Vilas County. Call me a homer if you will, but for me, this part of the country has it all.

We have the lakes, the woods, and all the wild game to hunt and fish to catch that go with them. We also have many other wild critters to watch, like songbirds, frogs, owls, eagles and more. We have sunsets and sunrises to watch, wildflowers in abundance and on days like this day, trees coated in silvery ice to decorate the countryside.

That said, there are places rich in natural beauty of their own which practically beg one to stop and take a look. I’ve been fortunate to see much of what this country has with, so far, 27 states under my belt. My adopted state for about 10 days each year is North Dakota, a place I love dearly for those 10 days in October, but a place where you would never see me in the winter.

I haven’t seen a lot of the Rockies, but I have hiked to more than 13,000 feet in Wyoming, hunted elk at more than 10,000 feet in New Mexico and last summer, came within 500 feet of topping 14,000 feet on Pike’s Peak in Colorado before dense fog closed the road before the tour bus I was on could summit.

I caught a dog shark and a few other fish on Puget Sound, “steamboated” the Mississippi River while visiting New Orleans, La., hiked to Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains, hunted turkeys in Missouri’s Ozark Country and have greatly enjoyed other places in other states.

I have many favorite places, but perhaps my favorite of all outside of Vilas County and I imagine I’ve said this before, is anywhere along the coast of Lake Superior.

My wife and I have camped at many state and Canadian provincial parks with grand views of the big pond, and we have hiked many trails taking us to unbelievable overlooks of the lake. I have fished for and caught trout out of many rivers and streams feeding Lake Superior, and all have been good to me no matter how big or small the catch.

One of the best things about Lake Superior and the streams that flow into it are the multitude of waterfalls that the water tumbles and roars over as the rivers cascade toward the lake.

Wisconsin and Michigan have hundreds of miles of Lake Superior coastline to enjoy, but my favorite sections of the lake are along Minnesota’s Arrowhead and along most of the length of Ontario, Canada’s share of the lake where cliffs, rocky islands and islets, and spectacular waterfalls are in great abundance.

The hinterlands beyond the shores of Lake Superior are equally beautiful. My wife and I have tasted some of those in Ontario and in recent years, we have become great fans of the true wilderness country in the Arrowhead.

We like to think we have pristine wild country here in north Wisconsin and we do have some, although if you look up the definition of pristine, little of our woods meets that description. There is much of that which is truly pristine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in Minnesota and in the adjoining Quetico country of Ontario.

I have yet to experience any of the interior of the BWCA, but have touched the fringes along the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais, Minn. South of the BWCA, my wife and I have stayed at a delightful old-time family resort on Trout Lake, about 15 miles north of Lake Superior.

It’s a small lake, a little more than 200 acres, but it is as deep as 75 feet, and its waters are filled with wonderful lake and rainbow trout. Several nearby lakes also are home to trout, along with streams like the Kadunce River whose headwaters flow out of Trout Lake.

This spring, for five days spanning Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I will be back in that part of the country, this time with our camper which we will set up for a couple of days at Kimball Lake and for three days at East Bearskin Lake which lies partially within the BWCA.

I’ll be taking my kayak along and armed with a BWCA day pass will see if I can relieve two lakes a short portage across from East Bearskin of a walleye or northern pike or two. 

The dogs will go along to keep us company and hopefully, the weather during that time in May will cooperate with at least halfway warm temperatures and maybe even a glorious sunset or sunrise each day. No matter the weather, we’ll enjoy this adventure. 

Later, this coming summer, I want to spend at least one weekend back up on the Gunflint Trail if I can pry the secret location of his best blueberry spots out of my son, who is a longtime BWCA veteran.

He has paddled solo on trips of up to 80 miles there and on his longest trip, paddled and portaged 165 miles with a buddy. I won’t be doing any of that, but I will risk cramps in my back and promise to share a blueberry paradise with any bear that wants a piece of it to pick 20 or so quarts.

My son annually makes one or two blueberry picking trips up that way and always comes home with anywhere from 25 to 40 quarts per trip. I gotta say, they are the best blueberries I’ve ever tasted. Most years it takes a little begging and reminding Brooks of things I gave him, like $1,000 trombones for high school band and such to get him to part with a few quarts of his largesse, but I usually succeed. 

They are the biggest and sweetest wild blueberries I have ever tasted, and this year, I intend to get some for myself.

All in what is part of my favorite part of the country to visit: the country of Lake Superior.