Today was the fifth hike in the series to walk the entire Manistee National Forest this season. Ten hikers this time.
We started at Nichols Lake. The weather was absolutely perfect for hiking. Mid 60's temperature, mostly cloudy, but with some blue sky showing through. The mosquitoes weren't bad at all.
For the first few miles north of Nichols Lake the trail winds between a series of small lakes. Leaf Lake is my favorite because it has so many little bays and wetland areas.
Every bit of the hike today is included in what I backpacked, solo, last fall. But this time the travel was south to north, and of course this is summer. It looked so different! The first time I ever hiked this piece, it was winter.
We have one sub-group that moves really fast down the trail. As I said last week, I'm happy enough to stay in the rear. Stopping to take pictures of the little joys I find is one of the best parts of hiking for me.
This week I found a hawk feather. I also heard a scarlet tanager, but couldn't find the bird to go with the song.
Cedar Creek is always a favorite spot. It never seems to change the way it looks; the water level and color always seem about the same.
Here's one of the mysterious purple mushrooms. I'm pretty sure this is Blewit, but there was only the one, and I didn't want to pull it up to look at the gills. That doesn't kill the mushrooom (most of the organism is underground), but it would ruin it for other hikers to see.
We've seen Indian Pipes on almost every one of these hikes, but most of the clumps haven't really been photo worthy. This one isn't bad.
Eleven miles. The leaders did it in 3 hours and 25 minutes. I was sweep, bringing up the rear, and my time was 4 hours 15 minutes (inclusive of 3 rest stops). I don't know why I'm even telling you this. These hikes are not supposed to be races. We have several people who just want to do them fast, and they seem to be driving the group only because they don't like to wait for us to get to the cars at the end. Unfortunately, both of the vehicles at the end belonged to the "slower" hikers. At least the two people who like waiting the least got their car in place at the end, so they could leave as soon as they finished.
Anyway, I did one of my favorite activities on the way home. Pick a dirt road going in the right direction and follow it till I have to take another. Made it to within 2 miles of my house by this method (not all dirt, but quite a lot) before having to get on the highway (river crossings on bridges are recommended in vehicles).
Food, shower, jammies. A little rain outside to end the evening. A really nice day.
North Country Trail, Newaygo County, Nichols Lake north to 96th St
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