Dogs

Backpacking, Camping, Dogs

Huron-Manistee National Forests


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.

Dogs, HIking, Travel

Devil’s Lake


The dreaded July 4th, where our neighborhood exhales the sounds of war and Franklin cowers under a table for weeks at a time. While we can’t leave Chicago for the whole month of July–that’s how long the fireworks persist–we can leave for the long weekend and what better place to enjoy the silence than a little town outside of Madison.

We have a backpacking trip coming up and needed to get in as many straight days of hiking as possible to get some training in. We started set off early, as we usually do, to drive up to the Brooklyn Wildlife segment of the Ice Age Trail. We hiked 9 miles and it was horrible. The trail was insanely overgrown in most places with briars and thorns, the mosquitoes were the worst I’ve ever experienced (see photo below of me whipping my hair around to try to keep them off me), and though he had plenty of water Franklin got overheated which was a little scary but he came out fine. Still we made the best of it and certainly earned our showers and soft beds.

The next day we headed to Devil’s Lake State Park. It was a much nicer day and though it was hot we thought Franklin could swim from the dog beach areas if he got overheated. We were wrong, as soon as we go there we saw warning signs for “swimmers itch” I’d never heard of it so we did a quick search and it’s parasites that get under your skin and cause a rash. Yuck! And it hurts dogs much worse than humans so no swimming for Franklin but luckily it was cool enough and Franklin had no problem with overheating.

We hiked up the East Bluff Trail from the south which means a decent elevation gain with some rock scrambling. I love this trail, we’d done it once before and even though there’s no real risk–the trail is well maintained and they’ve built decent stairs from the rocks–it feels rugged.

Since it was a holiday weekend the park was fairly busy but we made the best of it and hiked around maybe 6 or 7 miles.

On our last day we wanted to get another long hike in so we started out in Madison and hiked the Capital City trail to the Capital Springs Dog Park, one of the largest dog parks we’ve ever seen. The trail is meant for bikers and we saw a few but since it was a grey day and had rained most of the morning it was fairly desolate. It’s a relatively boring trail along a mostly industrial area but it served us well for training. See you later Wisconsin!

Camping, Dogs, HIking

Ludington State Park


Fall camping trip! Just about every fall we meet up with our Michigan friends for a quick weekend camping trip. This year we visited Ludington State Park and it did not disappoint.

The perfect blend of forest terrain and sandy beaches Ludington is a great end of summer spot. This one falls under the “small adventures” category so there’s little to tell but we stayed at Cedars Campground, which is where most trails begin so we would just pick a direction and off we went!

The only trail I know we took is the Lighthouse trail which follows the dunes along Lake Michigan. We had a great time and I’m sure we’ll visit again.