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Notes from the North Woods

Pictured is the old Wildcliff Lodge on Cranberry Lake. The place is an original log cabin, that was formerly used to house lumberjacks.  It used to attract a lot of deer hunters, and a fair share of brook trout anglers.

Pictured is the old Wildcliff Lodge on Cranberry Lake. The place is an original log cabin, that was formerly used to house lumberjacks. It used to attract a lot of deer hunters, and a fair share of brook trout anglers. Photo by Joe Hackett.

What is done in camp today has changed very little, from what was done over 100 years ago. It is still intended to offer a respite from the civilized world, and to provide us with a place to hunt deer, swap lies, mess about with boats, catch some fish, eat hearty food, laugh, have a drink, play some cards, smoke cheap cigars, and enjoy the company of old friends.


Although camps are often defined by their physical location, there is a much more potent, spiritual sense of camp. Upon returning to camp, we are transformed, we are relaxed and subdued.

Time slows, worries begin to diminish, appointments are forgotten, good times are remembered and everyday concerns begin to seem just a little less important.

Our worries center on the berries that need to be picked, the fish that must be caught, or that big old buck that always disappears over the far hill, on the evening before opening day. Fortunately, in camp, it always seems such troublesome concerns can be put off for just another day.

While traveling in the Five Ponds Wilderness a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to revisit the old Wildcliff Lodge, located on the far, southern shore of Cranberry Lake. The property has long since been sold, and it now appears to be abandoned, with roofs sagging, and the buildings in various states of collapse.

But for many years, the remote log lodge was owned and operated by proprietors, Vern and Barbara Peterson. It offered a bar and restaurant, where travelers could always find a warm woodstove and a cold beer, or a home cooked meal, and a kind word.

Generations of hunters and anglers considered it to be their own “camp,” and I was most fortunate to number myself among them. Despite its current dilapidated condition, I was transported back in time from the very moment I set foot on the shoreline.

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