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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Day Fourteen - Midland to Mackinac

Today was awesome! I made eight miles of forward progress. I am loving the wild and remote feel of this area. Miles and miles of evergreens and aspen always with a low ridge in sight in the distance. That said, the woods is full of guys in trucks and Jeeps and on ATVs scouting out places to hunt. I find it a bit hilarious how often I'm getting passed by vehicles on these nothing roads.

northeast Michigan backcountry

I particularly liked this little stretch on the "Wannabuk" Trail. For one thing, the footing was solid. In the picture above the M2M followed a snowmobile route that is all churned up sand. Who knew I should have trained for this hike by walking the beaches?

northeast Michigan backcountry

But the trail turned off Wannabuk in that band of jackpine you can see above. It took me an hour to do the next mile and a half. It was back to bushwhacking with blazes, and then a stretch where I would never have found my way except there was a bit of a treadway to follow. Crossed some mucky areas that could be bad in spring, and a small creek that is part of the headwaters of the West Branch of Big Creek. Little log bridge. I ate lunch there with the water gurgling.

log bridge

Then a large beaver pond where there would be some nice camping spots.

beaver pond

It was a good day for tracks. That soft sand took prints very well. I'm getting up in the area where the Michigan Elk Herd is located. Pretty sure I saw elk tracks both yesterday and today.

elk tracks

Most of the usual suspects: deer, raccoon, fox (of course it could have been a dog, but there were no accompanying human tracks), and maybe a bobcat. Kicking myself for not taking pictures of that. Sandhill crane, not too unusual, but fun.

sandhill crane tracks

The weather was perfect for hiking. I think it got a little warmer than they predicted, but about 50 degrees all day. My little thermometer broke just before this trip so I've had to guess. So I decided to try to get in a pile of miles. Pretty sure I got in 8 trail miles. But I had no particular interest in going back through that difficult stretch or repeating the 5 miles is soft sand, so I decided to walk other roads back. What a great choice!

There is an area along the Middle Branch of Big Creek that I thought was beaver flooding, but I later learned it was dammed to create a long skinny lake. Made that walk quite enjoyable.

I saw a pair of trumpeter swans.

trumpeter swans

And then I watched an eagle swoop down and catch a fish.

bald eagle

Trail miles total: 109- over half by any estimation. Miles walked today: about 14.

Today's trail angel is named Clayton. I still had 3.5 miles to go to the car. I had it in me to do them, but didn't like how late that got me back, because I had a motel reservation waiting (the shower felt great and now the wet tent is drying over the rod). A guy in a Jeep stopped and asked if I was walking for fun or wanted a ride. I said I'd gotten my trail miles in for the day and would be glad of a ride. Turns out Clayton is a member of the outdoor club where Luke "Strider" Jordon spoke this past week about his Great Plains Trail hike! Small world, right?

Weather looking bad tomorrow afternoon. I think I'll do a short hike in the morning, and then come back and go to the laudromat and hardware store.

Did I mention how still it was today? Many, many times I could hear no human sounds at all. No breeze. Just quiet!

See Day Thirteen
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1 comment:

Ann said...

What a great day. Love the picture of the swans

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