Newport State Park October, 2003


All of the campsites at Newport are on Lake Michigan except for sites 14 and 15 ihich are on Europe Lake. There is some development on Europe Lake which is a major turn-off.

The trails are wide and easy to hike. This would be a good park to take younger children.

Park map

Park Link

After our first trip to Rock Island State Park a month earlier, Yumi and I needed to purchase some new gear. This would be a good opportunity to try out the new The North Face Slickrock and some Therm-a-rests. Our laboratory would be Newport State Park up in Door County. I had never been there before but was looking forward to seeing the closest so-called "wilderness park" to Manitowoc.

We probably should have aborted this mission even before we left Manitowoc. The 2+ hour drive up was marred by thunderstorms and wind. But we forged on , even stopping for a sandwich at the Sturgeon Bay Culver's before resuming the trip. We arrived around 3:30 PM. By this time there was some blue sky poking through the clouds, but the wind was still blowing pretty good. When we checked in at the contact station we were told that the water wource was dry and we'd have to carry ours in. Luckily I had brought a gallon milk jug along just for that contingency. Not a big deal as we only hd to hike about 3 miles to get to our site on Europe Lake.

We filled our bottles and milk jug and hit the trail. There was still blue sky, but the temperatures were in the 50's---low even for this time of the year but typical of Wisconsin lakeshore weather. in a perverse sort of way I was hoping the weather would stay crummy just to see how the tent held up in wind and rain. yumi did not share my twisted thoughts. We got a quick glimpse of Lake Michigan which was a steel gray. The trees were just beginning to lose their leaves. Had it been 10 degrees warmer it would have been very pleasant.

yumi sleeping
Yumi snoozing away in the cold. Note the blue collar of her parka. 

As we walked through the woods we were forced to don our rain ponchos. Not only did it begin to rain, but it also started to hail. This lasted about as long as it took for us to get the ponchos on. This weather was staring to get old. About the only good thing was that the wind couldn't penetrate the trees so the flat walk was kind of plesant.

We made it to the spur trail that led to our site in about 80 minutes. Yumi ws not that thrilled to see that our pit toilet had no walls, but figured it was better than squatting against a tree. A couple hundred fee later we noticed the wind starting to pick up and soon realized that our lovely campsite on the shores of Europe lake was in the path of 30-35 mph winds. We would later learn that the wind toppled several trees elsewhere in northern Door County.

Setting up camp was an adventure. I thought it might help to string a tarp between two trees might act as a windbreak. A nice idea in theory, but by the time we got it set up, 15 minutes later, it didn't do much good though Yumi was able to sit on the bench out of the wind a little bit. Setting up the tent was equally frustrating. Instead of fighting the wind, we put it up inland a bit and carried it back to the site and staked it down.

Since it appeared it was going to be a cold night, I spent the next half hour gathering and cutting firewood while Yumi shivered behind the tarp. That task completed it was time to make some dinner. the major mistake I made was forgetting to bring a lighter along. Without it we had only 24 wodden matches. In this wind they wouldn't last long. Naturally, my ancient Svea refused to light. Either the wind blew out the match or the flame in the primer cup. I tried lighting it behind the toilet. No dice there either. At one point Yumi thought we might have to evacuate but there was no way I was going to do that. Finally, I pulled my head out of my butt long enough to light the stove in the food locker. I doused the stove with gas, lit her up and in seconds she was flaming away. I'm sure the paint inside the food locker at site 15 is blistered.

By this time Yumi had retired to the relative warmth of the tent and would take her supper there despite the imminent danger of the park's creatures coming around to investigate the strange smells. Our meal of Mountain house Teryiaki Chicken was edible. During the meal I remembered that I left the food locker unlocked and went outside to close it. I was met by a raccoon rummaging through our food bag and shood him out. He left, grudgingly, turning back towards me to give me a look as to say "you mother fu@$ing bastard!!!"

Finished with our meal by 6:15, the wind blowing and almost totally dark, we decided to screw the fire and just go to bed. I called Todd and Matt on the cell phone just to let them know that we were already in bed . By 6:30 we were in our sleeping bags while the wind howled outside. The tent would be tested in wind anyway.

Discovery: I am a warm sleeper. Despite the rapidly falling temperatures outside, I had to get out of my sleeping bag to strip down because I was too warm in my 20 degree bag. After I got down to my shorts I was very comfortable.

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan Shoreline

Discovery: Yumi is a cold sleeper. Bundled in long undies, her pants and a Columbia jacket with fleece liner, she was still cold. Being the gentleman I am, I shared half of my bag with her while still maintaining my warmth. Sometime around 2:30 the warmth was shattered when mother nature called. It was cold. I took a peek at the small thermometer hanging from my pack zipper and couldn't believe what I saw: 34 degrees and still windy as hell probably dropping the wind chill to about 20.

We managed to survive the night but had serious reservations about sticking around for another night. It was too cold to splash around in the lake, and the scenery was limited. Heck, we lived on the Lake back at home so there wasn't any big attraction there. After a few minutes we decided that we'd indeed evacuate to a hotel somewhere and do a little shopping.

Naturally, the skies cleared up as we began hiking out, and it was turning into a beautiful looking day. It didn't matter, though, as it was still unseasonably cold and a hotel was looking better and better.

We spent the remainder of the day shopping in the small communities in Door County while simultaneously looking for a hotel room. We eventually found a room, ate a wonderful dinner and watched Juwanna Mann on the VCR.

While it didn't turn out as we planned, the weekend was a good learning experience and actually a lot of fun.



July, 2011
Winter camping in the Beartooths in July
teton August, 2010
6 nights in the heart of the Absaroka mountains
July, 2009
Another 7 nights with the crew in the Beartooths
August, 2008
7 nights in the Beartooths with Ward and the Canadian
July, 2008
5 nights in the Bighorns with a Canadian

August, 2007
Yumi and I return to GNP for some fun

July, 2007
6 nights in the heart of the Northern wind Rivers
August, 2006
A 3-night solo in the Absaroka-Beartooth
July, 2006
Yumi and I spend 8 nights in the Wind Rivers
Aug-Sept., 2005
Dorf gets his GNP fix with 8 nights on the trail
July, 2005
A quickie solo in the Cloud Peak Wilderness
July, 2005
Our return to GNP aborted 6 hours in :-(
July, 2004
Two weeks of camping and backpacking in Glacier.
September, 2004
Yumi and I get to the Porkies before fall arrives
July, 2004
Yumi and I take the kids to the Porkies
June, 2004
Todd and I prove that last years' Newport debacle was no fluke
October, 2003
Yumi and I test some more gear and nearly die
September, 2003
Yumi and I decide to do a little camping & test gear


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