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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day Twenty-Six - Midland to Mackinac Trail

Today was exquisitely inefficient, and possibly stupid to bother to do, but it completes the project! Om and I were gone 12 hours, almost to the minute, so that I could hike maybe 9 miles.

Give Om a warm car and chances to take pictures of pretty leaves and he is happy.

person taking pictures of fall colors

I'd already driven this piece once, and drove it twice more today before I walked it so Om could see where he needed to go wait for me, and then I finally walked it. But there are always things to see on foot that escape at car speed, even when going very slowly on poor roads.

The day was absolutely lovely. Since I hiked so many wet days this felt like a real gift, and a nice ending.

dirt road with a tunnel of yellow autumn trees

It was chilly at first, but it warmed and the sky was gorgeous.

blue sky above aspen trees

The art of a beech tree decorated with white pine needles.

yellow beech leaves with white pine needles

More leaf art- I call this the super-pressed leaf technique. Materials: 1 muddy road, fallen leaves, multiple trucks.

leaves compressed in muddy road

Sure, it was a roadwalk, but there was nothing shabby about the scenery. It was a gorgeous bright, breezy day with golden leaves skittering out in front of me and swirling around my shoulders.

back road with fall colors

On the way home, Om and I stopped in Gaylord and ate at the historic Sugar Bowl. We didn't have a chance to do anything for our anniversary in August (50 years), so we celebrated today.

Sugar Bowl restaurant in Gaylord

I had a Reuben and Om had a bleu burger. Who are those old people?!

people eating at Sugar Bowl restaurant in Gaylord

Total miles today: 9 (which was really 8, but I needed to add one on to the day I came into this point from the south, so I'm calling it 9). Total miles for the trail: 215.5 (estimated, but the official estimate is 210, so not far off). Total miles actually walked to reach that goal: 299 or thereabouts!

I walked either THE trail, or some alternative to connect the points where trail was lost. In some cases I went back and picked up the missing sections from the other direction.

There will be one more post about the Midland to Mackinac Trail, with some conclusions about this adventure. Probably tomorrow.

See Day Twenty-Five
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Monday, October 15, 2018

Onaway Steers the World

The place I stayed the longest while hiking was the city of Onaway. It has quite an interesting history. Its slogan is "Onaway Steers the World."

This comes from the former industry that made wooden steering wheels, and before that, wooden bicycle wheels. The American Wood Rim Company was founded in 1901 and burned to the ground in 1926. They used fine-grained hard rock maple to make outstanding products.

Onaway, Michigan steering wheel sculpture

Now the local industry is Moran Iron Works, a national leader in custom metal fabrication. They have created a park on the site of the former Wood Rim factory with walkways, sculptures, and interpretive signs.

Many of the sculptures/constructions are made by Thomas Moran.

Onaway, Michigan knight and dragon sculpture

Counting the bust outside town at the Moran building, there are four famous heads: Washington, Gerald R. Ford, Lady Liberty, and Abraham Lincoln. I had seen the one of Ford before, at ArtPrize a number of years ago.

Onaway, Michigan Abraham Lincoln sculpture

I don't know the artist for this catfish, but it's not in the park, but downtown. Northern Michigan seems to have a thing for big fish- Kalkaska has a rainbow trout and Baldwin has a brown trout. There's one I often pass in Ontario too.

Onaway, Michigan catfish sculpture

This park connects to another city park, which was in full autumn splendor.

Onaway, Michigan park

One of the really interesting places to me was practically across the street from the motel. This building appears to be abandoned. Most of the people I asked about it didn't know what it had been, but one person thought it was a former Masonic Hall. It's just a shame that places like this cost way too much to save.

Onaway, Michigan large building

Just a sampling of my recent trip that wasn't directly related to hiking. That said, I'm making a fast trip back tomorrow to hike those last few miles. It has to happen!

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cold Wet Magic

I put a few of the houseplants out on the porch for the summer. Told Om to bring them in if it was going to freeze while I was gone. But I sort of forgot that a couple of them really wouldn't like to be cold even if it wasn't freezing.

One of the ones I put outside was this unidentified member of the spiderwort family. It has reluctantly bloomed for me twice.

furry spiderwort

It was given to me as a succulent, but I learned this summer that it really prefers to be nice and moist. It flourished outside, getting watered every other day. The leaves were greenish-white and furry and happy looking.

When I got home Friday, not only were the leaves happy and huge, but even though it has been quite cold, the silly thing was blooming like crazy! Every stalk had two blossoms/buds on the end.

furry spiderwort

In other news: I chilled out and worked hard on the Midland to Mackinac Trail Guide today. I'm closing in on having it ready.

See Other Spiderworts
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Back to Author Brain

Today I was selling books at a DeColores fundraiser event in Muskegon. Sold enough that it was worth doing. Made two new author friends, and got to chat with two I already knew.

It just happened that the women are the ones I knew- Barbara Kompik and Bonnie Jeanne-Marie

authors Barbara Kompik and Bonnie Jeanne-Marie

The men are my new friends- Ron Rowbotham and Glenn Wagner

authors Ron Rowbotham and Glenn Wagner

Ron had a vintage fruit box from Jebavy Orchards of Ludington!

Jebavy Orchards box

I'm just too tired to function. Curled up with a book. I know this is not nearly as exciting as a hiking post, but it was today, and I need to be selling a lot of books to continue doing what I wish to do. I'm sure I'll be rejuvenated by tomorrow.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Day Twenty-Five - Midland to Mackinac

The joke's on me, once again, but it's OK. After giving Nancy the whole spiel about how terrible the roads were to get to the spot we needed to hike to today, here's what happened. Because Nancy was coming from the west, I went over that way to meet her and we drove in from that side. Sue and I had accessed the spot from the east, because we were east of there. It was the way Google sent us, and I had no local knowledge that told me otherwise.

Ha! From the west, the entire way except for the last two miles was paved.

With a little digital magic, I bring you Nancy and me, at the junction where the M2M joins the High Country Pathway for a couple of miles.

hikers at the High Country Pathway

After rain and snow while I was loading the car, the day proved to be wonderful. A bit chilly, but we were dressed for it, so that wasn't a problem at all.

Don't know if they knew I was coming but someone had just touched up the blazes along the High Country Pathway. Like- this week. See the paint on the ferns?

blue paint on ferns

Except for about 3 miles we were on back roads for the rest of the walk. Still, this can be a beautiful experience. I really like the shape of the white pine to the left of the road.

tall trees along a country road
Purple leaves! They really were this color. No digital magic.

purple leaves

And although it remained overcast, the sky was bright enough to set the leaves glowing.

yellow leaves in woods

The drive home was amazing. The trees are about at peak color north of Kalkaska. I had to stop and take some pictures along the way, but this is my favorite.

barn and maples with orange leaves

Nancy and I did about 7 miles. Perfect length for her, she said. And it was fun to have company for the day. No losing the trail, which did not break my heart.

I thought the remaining miles were all on roads of some description, so I attempted to drive through and check it out. They are indeed on roads, and the puddles that stopped Sue and me are drained or dried. Sort of "killed" me to come home with only 9 miles to go, but as of now, I'm planning to go back this next week and finish.

Home again. Had my first ice cream in nearly a month. Got one piece of mail in that whole time which is worth reading. Living room is trashed. I need to be out the door with my author brain on at 7 am tomorrow. Wow! That is a fast switch from hiker brain.

Miles hiked today: 7- which is the same number that count. I like that equation! Total trail miles hiked: 206.5. This means that my guesstimate for my hiking days has been pretty darn accurate. The total will come in at 215.5, and the official guesstimate (no one has actually GPSed this trail) is 210. Good stuff.

See Day Twenty-Four
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Day Twenty-Four - Midland to Mackinac

The proof! Here I am in Mackinaw City at the sign where the Midland to Mackinac Trail heads south. It was eight years ago that I stood in this spot (older signpost then), having reached it from the North Country Trail side and first thought about hiking this trail.

hiker at Midland to Mackinac Trail sign in Mackinaw City
Just go to the next sign, and you can keep going on the NCT- either direction you want! (toward New York or North Dakota)

North Country Trail sign in Mackinaw City
My timing was perfect- perfectly wrong! I sat indoors all day yesterday in warm and beautiful weather, and today I hiked in rain and wind, the entire day. Well, I'm not complaining. I wasn't too hot, and I really needed some rest. Gumby II did the job. And the water enhanced the colors of the leaves.

autumn oak leaves

Can't stop taking pictures of the beautiful stretches of autumn color along the trail.

autumn trees

It was pretty windy too. Look what came down from somewhere. Glad it's late enough in the year that the inhabitants have died off.

wasp nest

First view of the Mighty Mac from the trail! Made me realize that I've walked a long way!

Mackinac Bridge view from the Midland to Mackinac Trail

Today's trail angel that made these 12.5 miles possible in one day- Janice Dillaha, a new trail friend who is also interested in the North Country Trail. Thanks, Jan! And I hope our paths continue to cross.

hiker friends

Saw one other walker- a woman out with two Malamutes. They sure didn't mind the cold and wet, the dogs that is.

One other hilarious incident. As I was just coming into Mackinaw City there were some construction guys putting a roof on a new shuttle bus waiting pavilion. They had their radio playing loudly. Suddenly I heard the announcer say (you can't make this stuff up), "Is the trail calling to you?"
"Why, yes," I thought, "but I don't think they've perfected interactive radio yet."
"Do you wish you could hike, but you're just afraid to?"
"Not so afraid, but certainly curious what you have to offer."
"Visit our orthopedic clinic...."

Forward progress on the trail today: 12.5 miles, which is the same number of miles walked- Hooray! Total trail miles: 198.5

Tomorrow I'm hoping Nancy K and I can get to one of the places I need to connect, and that she won't have driven a bunch of miles to help me for nothing. We shall see- then home.

See Day Twenty-Three
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Midland to Mackinac Project

If you know me very well, you know there is always another big project in the wings. After the strategy for this hike changed several times, I decided to use what I'm learning to perhaps help other people to find the trail.

I've been spending my evenings and days off working on maps and a guide. It's not going to be perfect. I didn't even think of doing this until about day four so the early sections have sketchy descriptions. Nevertheless, I know it's going to be better than just trying to follow the blazes, and the official map (which is approximate, but the scale is just too small to be helpful on the ground).

I can't finish it till I come back to pick up the 17 missing miles in the middle. Some places where I lost the trail have already been fixed. Other places, I'll suggest an alternate route.

There are 30 maps with USGS maps as the base. Here's a sample. This will be able to be printed on regular 8.5x11" paper or looked at digitally as an ebook.

And a sample of text that goes with part of this map.

These samples don't include introductory info, legends, etc.

I'm thinking of charging about $3.00 for this. It certainly should be worth the price of a cup of coffee.

Finishing it shouldn't be too big of a mouthful to chew. I've been keeping up with it as I go along. The maps take longer, but they are getting done.

Today's good news is that I rested, which I kind of needed. The bad news is that is was a beautiful day outside, and the only walking I did was a stroll through the local park and to the grocery store to buy a salad.

Tomorrow, a lady from Michigan Hiking and Backpacking is spotting me so I can go all the way into Mackinaw City, and on Friday another friend will spot me in the middle. That will leave me only one day's hike with no overnight to come back for. That should be possible to work out.

See Day Twenty-Three
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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Day Twenty-Three - Midland to Mackinac

Today I had the pleasure of hiking with a buddy I haven't seen for a long time.

hiker shadow

Less than a mile into the hike the trail crossed the Cheboygan River on the old railroad bridge. Just the ordinary truss kind, but they are still interesting.

railroad truss bridge

The view of the river was fun too. When I came back past here there was a group of people on the bridge shouting and waving to boats as they passed below.

Cheboygan River

Saw a group of Shaggy Mane mushrooms. Good eating! But I wasn't on a mushroom quest today.

shaggy mane mushroom

This red squirrel was impressively and loudly upset that I was passing beneath his/her tree.

red squirrel

And, I know it's just a robin, but it was so bright and happy, it just wanted a picture taken.


I loved the mixture of shapes and textures with the New England Asters and cattails.

New England Aster and cattails

The colors seem to be nearing their peak along the roads, but only small portions of the trees have turned along the rail trail.

autumn colors

Today, it was extremely grievous to turn around and walk back to the car. I was only 12 miles from Mackinaw City! But I would have been truly beat if I'd gone on. However, I joined and switched to the North Central Rail Trail, and turned the corner westward toward Mackinaw.

I met a Vizsla named Otis (and his owner). Otis leaned on my leg (velcro dog) and wanted his back scratched. The owner and I talked about doggie things. She was impressed that I knew the breed. I told her about my Maggie.

There were quite a few people using the trail for a weekday, during work/school hours. I saw 14 pedestrians (four of which were runners, two were pushing strollers, and two were children), the two tiny humans in the strollers, two dogs, and three people on bicycles.

I expected the trail to go through some ugly places in Cheboygan, because rail lines usually passed through the industrial sections. But this trail continued to feel rural or suburban at the most crowded. The only real change was more street crossings.

The temperature shot back up. I should have worn shorts! I knew it was warm and humid, but found out why I was feeling miserably hot. But I did NOT get rained on.

temperature sign

Forward progress on the trail: 7 miles. Total miles walked today: 14. Total miles accumulated on the M2M: 186.

See Day Twenty-Two
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