2020 is the year all your plans shoot right out the window right? Well ours sure did. For about 6 months we were planning a backpacking trip to Canada, looking at either the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park or the Lake Superior Provincial Park Coastal Trail. Buuuuuut COVID-19 is still happening and Canada is not really accepting Americans across their border. So we changed plans and ended up with a short trip along the North Country Trail and Manistee River Trail in the great state of Michigan.
The best thing about this hike is that it is completely free, no registration fee, no entry fee, no parking fee. Kudos to you Michigan and thank you to whomever volunteers their time or resources to keeping up this trail.
July 6 – We started out fairly early driving 2 hours from our friend’s home in Muskegon to the Upper River Road Trailhead parking lot. This is at the South end of the trail and we followed it clockwise so we did the North Country Trail section first.
We hiked a bit over 7 miles to our campsite among the tall pine trees. This campsite is off the trail a little ways and has a super clean creek running near it where you can get fresh water, we always filter but there were some other hikers who drank straight from the stream and had no problem.
Franklin tried out the hammock for the first time and I can’t say he’s a fan but maybe after a few more tries he’ll get used to it.
July 7 – The longest and most interesting day with sweeping views of the Manistee River, suspension bridge, and several small waterfalls. We did about 9 miles to campsite 7A but there were already people at that site so we moved on to the only open site, 8A, which turned out to be just perfect, and maybe more picturesque, anyway.
We had planned on getting water from the Manistee River but we were up the side of a steep embankment so it took quite a bit more effort than we had hoped. Once we made it to the water’s edge though we had our own private mini-beach and dipped our sore toes in the cool water. On the way back up a frog jumped on my hand unexpectedly and I screamed and everyone thought I fell off the side of the cliff so that was fun.
I also had my first encounter with some kind of creature in the night. I did not remember to put my toothbrush in the bear canister or the bear hang so at a certain point in the middle of night I heard a little chewing and really thought nothing of it really but made some sounds from inside the tent, Franklin did nothing so I figured it was just a dream. When I got up though my pack had been pulled out from under the tent garage and some small holes were bit out of the top right where my toothbrush was. Also our bear canister had been knocked over and rolled a bit so whatever creature it was really wanted in our stuff!
July 8 – Last day and just 4 miles through mainly the pine forest but plenty of little streams to romp in and Franklin realized about 3 minutes before we got to the car that the hike was over and he laid down in the grass in protest :). Overall a really fun hike with friends where we felt free and normal and able to recover a bit from all our time stuck inside.