I’ve been off the grid a bit this past week/weekend, engaging in our first back country camping trip. I had done one night on the Superior Hiking Trail, almost 2 decades ago, but otherwise have stuck with car/camper camping since then. We were excited to try out a bunch of new gear that we had gotten, including some new packs, and my wife’s new backpacking tent.
For this trip, we were joined by our good friend Mike B. who is a very experienced back country person, and he served as our mentor and guide throughout the trip. Part of the impetus for the trip was so that Mike could get in some solid trail training runs before his 100 mile attempt at Fall Superior in a few weeks. We were more than happy to join him and help with his training, while at the same time getting some wilderness experience.
We headed out on a Thursday, and our itinerary involved getting all the way to Michigan, and then heading to our first campsite. This first night we would only be hiking in 2.5 miles, and since we had been driving all day, this was fine with us. Our first site was on the banks of the Little Carp River, and the trail leading to it followed along side of it. We arrived by late afternoon, and found a good spot to pitch our tents. We had some neighbors, who I don’t think really liked the company, but such is life in a busy park. In fact, Mike discovered when he was planning this trip, that even the back country sites needed to be reserved now. Our experience bore out this reality, that this park is getting very popular.
Once we had set up camp, we started dinner and enjoyed a nice meal of couscous and chicken. I got to try out our new Sawyer gravity water system (review coming another day), and overall we had a quiet night in the woods. Because of the drive and the hike we were all tired, and we crawled in to bed pretty early. Much to our surprise we all ended up in our tents for close to 12 hours, giving us a bit later of a start to our second day.
Our goal for day 2 was to get to our next campsite, and then Mike and I planned to run back to our car to move it to a new spot for our hike out. The hike to the next site, where the Little Carp River runs in to Lake Superior, was easy and uneventful. There were some cool water features, and we stopped to take a few pictures as we went. Overall, it was a pretty easy morning, and we had our new site set up before lunch.
Mike and I headed out to do a 6.5 mile run back to the car along the Crosscut Trail and got to have some fun stretching our legs without any packs on. The Crosscut Trail is an interior trail, and frankly, just not that interesting. It’s muddy and just cuts through some basic woods, without much in the way of features. It was still a good run, and we made decent time getting back to the parking lot. Once we arrived we hopped in the car and moved it over to Presque Isle, heading back to our campsite via the Lake Superior Trail.
This trail was much different than Crosscut, as it ran closer to the lake, and was punctuated by large gullies that we needed to climb down and up. I think in total, I counted 10 or 11 gullies along the way. It was all good fun until I realized we’d be coming back that way the next day and would have to do them all over again.
For the time being, I put that out of my mind, and we enjoyed a beautiful evening near the shore of Lake Superior. We had a nice supper and spent time walking down to the lakeshore to enjoy the view. Soon though it started to get dark, and we heard the sound of thunder in the distance. It was time to hunker down in the tent, and get some sleep while we enjoyed the sound of rain all around us. Never mind the fact that the next day was shaping up to be rather wet, it was still shaping up to be a fun adventure.
In the next entry we’ll continue with the story of the wet hike out of the woods…