Monday, October 13, 2014

13Oct2014 - Kettlebowl, Lumbercamp and the Hillbilly Hilton

Off on a four day 100-mile century segment of the Ice Age Trail thru Langlade and part of Lincoln County.  Got dropped off Sunday night and started out from the Cocktail Cage Lounge and Bar where the owner lets you camp out back.  Road walk to the start of the Kettlebowl segment is on lightly traveled roads through farm and forested countryside.  Along the way there is a side trail to a large glacial erratic boulder with a memorial, and you pass the old Sherry Cemetery; all that's left of the town of Sherry. 

The Kettlebowl segment lives up to it's name as it winds through hilly terrain dotted with huge granit erratics and glacial moraine topography.  Many depressions called "kettle holes," kettlebowls," or "frost pockets" dot the landscape and were formed by remnants of huge blocks of ice; which broke from the ice sheet and when they finally melted left the deep pockets in the landscape.  One very large kettlebowl that I hiked out to demonstrated the unique feature of these frost pockets which is an inverted tree line where the lower levels of the pocket are devoid of woody vegetation similar to higher elevation slopes on mountain tops.  The heavier cooler air at the bottom of the bowl discourages growth.

Parts of this section are overgrown but well marked including parts that overlap with a sled dog trail and a mix of logging roads, and grassy lanes. 

An unmarked side trail leads about a mile over to the Kent Fire Tower.  Perched atop Kent Hill, which at 1903 feet is only 50 feet lower than the state highpoint on Timm's Hill.  I climbed part way up the scary  straight up ladder which while unmarked was rumored to be unsafe before chickening out.  Great views of the remaining color left on the trees. 

The next side trip along the leaf covered trail was to the "Big Stone Hole" another large kettle filled with granite erratics.  Back on the trail I soon hiked right through the Kettlebowl Ski Area where I had a nice lunch on the porch.  The trail shares various cross-country ski trails toward Baker Lake which I heard was the first water available on trail.  Not sure what was ahead I skirted the lake for twenty minutes before giving up and soaking my shoes getting out to clean water from the grass and muddy shoreline.  Little did I know I would not need the water.

A few miles into the Lumbercamp segment I came to the remains of the Norem Lumber Camp from the 1920's.   All that remains of the camp is a root cellar.  But what a root cellar it is!  The cellar has been renovated and is affectionately called the "Hillbilly Hilton".  Inside are two bunks, a table and some shelving and lots of  bottled water, and a wood stove.  While taking pictures it started to rain.  It was still early afternoon but who wants to hike in the rain when you can stay at the "Hillbilly Hilton"?  It rained all night but I was safe and snug in my root cellar hotel. 


  1. Pretty cool article! Thanks for posting. Any chance of a GPS location of the Hillbilly Hilton?

  2. Daniel, I found a waypoint online at

    45° 16.928'
    -88 56.965'
    Lumber Camp (lA5). From the 1920s until 1938 the camp contained several
    log structures, including a bunkhouse, hayshed, stable, community kitchen
    and mess hall. All that remain are the root cellar and several log foundations.
    The root cellar has been renovated and is affectionately called the “Hillbilly
    Hilton.” Inside are wooden platforms for sleeping, a small table and shelving that welcome hikers out of the elements. Please practice responsible trail stewardship by leaving the “Hilton” in as good condition or better than
    you found it.