By day 3, we were starting to get a bit of a routine. We didn’t get up early, but not late either. Morning coffee, a bite of breakfast and breaking of camp. We even developed a bit of a routine for use of the outdoor throne. By now, that was the official name for the forest potty. We would go in pairs, or a group because, well, isn’t that what women do?? We would take turns with a “guard” up the trail a bit so there was no need to worry about someone walking up in the middle of doing business. Of course there was always the possibility of a bear walking up from the other direction but I guess that’s always a chance when one does the bear thing in the woods. As we headed off in pairs to take care of that part of the morning ritual, we discovered a couple of hikers had come in during the night and camped in the site that the potty trail meandered though. There was nary a hint of stirring in the tents so we did our best to tiptoe past. Well, most of us anyway. Becky’s tiptoeing left a lot to be desired due to some morning leg cramps.
Once we were packed up and fed, it was time to refill our water supplies. We wandered down to the beach to again filter from the lake. This time Becky got to do the wading. The waves were less problematic and filtering went fairly quickly. And honestly, who can complain about hanging out on a beach to filter some water?
Shortly after leaving camp, we came to a wooden bridge crossing Beaver Creek. The sandy bottom was easily visible through the crystal clear waters.
Much of the time, this section of trail wandered along a bluff overlooking the beach below. The option is available to walk the beach but the steep bluff would make getting back to the trail difficult in most places. We chose to stick to the trail instead of walking the soft sand of the beach.
This day, we really got a chance to meet and chat with folks along the trail and in camp. Early in our hike, we ran into a group of older gentleman who were doing short hikes to easily accessible backpack camps. They had done their share of long distance hiking in their younger days and were now opting for the less miles, more luxuries type of backpacking. And when I say luxuries, I mean it! One was carrying a cooler with cold beer. Another had a portable TV to watch the Michigan State football game. I can only begin to hope that I’m still hiking in my 70’s, let alone doing it in such style!
While we were seeing quite a few people along the trail, we had seen few animals. We did run across evidence of animals though, including a recent visit to the trail by a black bear.
Yes, apparently they do….
We came across what we thought was a pretty caterpillar. Well, just like so many things in life, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Or a “caterpillar” by it’s pretty colors. Turns out, it was actually the larva of the Elm Sawfly, which is related to bees and wasps. It also has a habit of defoliating elm and willow trees. The tree-hugger in me now thinks we should have stepped on it!
As I’ve mentioned before, you just never know what you are going to run across on a trail. Usually it’s somewhat expected; a deer, another hiker, an interesting feather or even the occasionally exciting moments that involve a bear or rattlesnake. Every once in awhile, however, you have those squinty eye moments where you’re trying to make out just WHAT that is. Finding a car in a wilderness area is one of those moments. Apparently, before Pictured Rocks was a National Lakeshore, off-road driving was popular. And it would seem, break downs were sometimes met with an “oh well just leave it” attitude.
Our hike today was pretty laid back. Gail opted to stretch out her legs and hike ahead at pace more suited to her. The rest of us took the normal turtle approach, just moseying along and getting distracted by whatever caught our attention. We were a bit surprised when we came up on camp in early afternoon. The miles had ticked by quicker than we had realized. We were the first in camp! Kicking off my boots and changing into flip flops made me glad that they had not met the “ounce saver” ax. We had stopped for a snack but now we were ready for a real lunch. We sat around the communal fire pit and enjoyed a lazy afternoon. As we were lunching, a young man came up asking if we had seen his friend. Turns out, he and his friend were the late sleepers we had tiptoed past this morning. He said his friend is a (relatively) early riser and leaves before him. He then trail runs to catch up. They prescribe to our philosophy; Hike Your Own Hike! He said his friend was headed for the beach closest to this campsite. We pointed him in the direction of the beach and wished him luck finding his friend. After lunch we set our tents and went to filter water. There was a beautiful stream running alongside the campground which was perfect for just such a thing. I slipped off my flip flops and waded in to fill our “dirty” bottle. My feet we pretty sore and the ice cold water felt really good … for about 30 seconds! Hard to believe the stream was way colder than Lake Superior! The icy water was really refreshing to my achy feet and I treated them to two dunkings as we replenished our water supply.
After the water refill and camp set-up, it was back to the fire ring. We knew there would be others arriving so we thought we’d collect some wood and get the fire going. Being late in the season, wood was scarce but we managed to get enough to have a decent start for the night’s communal gathering. In between the lunching, water filtering, and tent pitching, Julianne did a little journal writing. It was interesting to note that she was writing in a Trump journal. She did comment that this night’s accommodations were a far cry from her stay in Trump Towers! Not less appealing, just polar opposite!
Sitting around the fire and chatting with fellow hikers made for great evening. We were all cooking dinners and swapping stories of adventures past. We met a landscape designer for the Toledo Metroparks. If you are a nature lover of any sort and are ever in Toledo, you have to check our their park system. It is amazing! He said he has been contacted by people all over the country interested in replicating Toledo’s success with their park system. Becky and I had been fortunate enough to explore some of the metropark trails during visits with our step-dad. Another interesting gentleman was a baker from Petoskey, Michigan. I’ve never been to Petoskey so honestly can’t vouch for his baking but his website looks yummy and he was a super nice guy. Say hi to him for us if you ever get a chance to visit. Crooked Tree Breadworks
As we were cooking, we realized that we were running low on stove fuel. We were quite surprised as this had never been an issue but we also realized we had never been cooking for four people before. As we were discussing our dilemma, one of the fellow hikers quickly offered a fuel canister for us. We initially declined but he was very insistent that his group had plenty. Trail magic, it’s a beautiful thing!
As tempting as it was to chat all night, the miles of the last few days were catching up with us and we still had two days to go. We bid everyone good night and headed off to our tents. All in all, a very satisfying day. As it turned out, this was my favorite campsite of the hike. It was so relaxing to fall asleep while listening to the water babbling in the nearby stream.