Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fall Softies Hike in Michigan's UP

hikers wearing orange
Fall 2010 Softies hikers (photo from NCT Hikers "Footprints")

from Footprints, Winter 2011 by Sarah Fisher

This hike is in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Softies group continually hikes across the UP, but prefers to "camp" indoors. -Ed.

Jeff and I joined our first North Country Trail Softies Walk at 10:00 am at Koski Corners. After brief introductions we caravaned with Marge and John Forslin, Reggie and LuAnn Krueger, Lorana Jinkerson, and Carole Bard. Our first stop was brunch at the Hardwood Inn in Covington. We then continued to the Loop Road Lodge in Trout Creek, our base camp for the next few days.

Because of rainy conditions and possible flooding, we decided to postpone our first hike for a day. Instead we took a short walk on the road and admired the fall foliage. Jan Lindstrom Wester and Nancy Bradbury arrived to join us for a delicious pot luck dinner and evening of conversation. We entertained ourselves playing golf and Nordic ski-jumping with the WI game the Forslins brought. Jan excelled at golf while LuAnn turned out to be quite the skijumper!

Friday, after a leisurely breakfast we embarked on the first leg of the trek from FH16 where Gale Jamsen met us to South Laird Road. We covered 6.5 miles which was quite sufficient due to the rain and wet terrain. We all appreciated hot showers and the use of the clothes dryer upon our return to the Lodge. The trail along a ridge with deep ravines on both sides. We then enjoyed a gourmet pork loin dinner provided by masterchef, John.

Saturday our plan was to walk all of segment 18 and half of segment 19 from South Laird Road and the Sturgeon Falls Trail. Gale Jamsen met us at the beginning of the trail. Marge and Jan decided to take a short walk and go down to see the Falls. (2-3 mile round trip on a non NCT trail). Doug Welker, President of the Peter Wolfe Chapter, had provided an alternate route for us to avoid crossing some deep rivers. In spite of that we had extremely wet conditions and hidden deep holes to navigate.

We had quite an adventurous day. Part of the time the blazes were difficult to follow due to lack of trees. Just after our lunch break while crossing a very high ridge we came upon an abandoned bicycle in good condition, as if it had been left there quite recently. We searched and called out, but discovered no one. Lorana entered the coordinates into her GPS to report to the police. Then Reggie knocked his glasses off while kicking a branch off the path. After a 15 minute search Gale found them and we continued. We walked a few miles extra before finding the exit to the road, so we decided to do the Sturgeon Falls in the morning when we were fresh.

We finished the evening with great hamburgers at UP Chucks in Kenton. Nancy, LuAnn and Reggie returned home for family obligations.

Sunday was a beautiful day to complete our walk. Lorana, Carole, Jeff and I began with the sharp descent to the Falls. The waterfalls were especially beautiful and full after the previous few days of rain. We found the switch backs in the path to make the climb back easier and were off to join Jan and Marge on the trail. We walked 5.82 miles to FR2236 (the rest of segment 19 and half of segment 20. The terrain was much different: a more open plains like area.

Since we had packed and neatened up the lodge before starting we were ready to caravan to lunch at the Hardwood Cafe and then on home.

A great time was had by all. The walks were invigorating. The fall colors were magnificent. The meals were were delicious. The company was compatible. A big THANKS goes to Marge for planning, John for shuttling and cooking, and Lorana for leading the walks. Another softies walk was successfully completed. We are looking forward to the Spring Softies Hike 2011.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-13

See North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA

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