Manistee River (photo by David)
excerpts from Explore the Outside, by David, used with permission. Follow the link to read his entire account.
In February of 2010 I was in a horrific car accident that I was fortunate enough to survive. However, I still managed to break both legs. This would be the most walking or hiking I had done since my accident and I felt that this pace [a three-day plan] was something that I’d be able to safely accomplish.
A goal of this trip was to keep my pack weight low. I managed to get my base weight down to 7.5 pounds and that included carrying a GPS and cell phone (about 1 pound). I packed 5 pounds of food and 2.2 pounds of water for a total starting weight of 14.7 pounds. In addition, I decided to not take my camera (DSLR) to save weight and all of the photos I took were unfortunately with my cell phone.
While visiting my parents for Labor Day I discovered that my father wanted to join me for part of the trip. Because of the broken bones in my legs from the previous year, I had originally planned to take it very slow and just see how it went. Hiking with my father, threw the “take it easy” plan out the window. I’m sure he would have been fine with whatever pace I picked but nonetheless I felt pressure to keep a decent clip. Also, I was pretty certain he wanted to camp at an established campsite.
We started hiking about 3 PM. From this lot [Upper River Road TH] there is a trail that heads north and shortly hits the connecting trail between the NCT and the MRT. At this junction we turned east, hiked to the road bridge over the Manistee River (the Red Bridge Access site we first pulled into) and after crossing the bridge found the beginning of the MRT
We arrived at the first two established camp sites (Camp #8 and Camp #9). These two sites are right on the water’s edge on the top of a 50’ overlook. There is a very nice view of the river. There was a guy playing acoustic guitar and drinking whiskey. Much to our surprise he was actually quite a good singer. He ended up leaving at dark.
[The next day] we arrived at the suspension bridge just after 11 AM. My father and I said our good byes. He took the 1.2 mile connection path back to his car at Seaton Creek Campground and I headed west over the bridge to find the NCT. As soon as I started south on the NCT the trail was very nice and an easy gradual climb with the trail being wide enough for a four-wheeler. I think it was this wide for at least a mile or two and then it went back to “typical” trail width. This section of the NCT was quite different from the MRT. During the entire section I didn’t see the Manistee River once. Towards the end of this section of the NCT there is a short off-shoot trail which leads to an overlook.
MRT-NCT loop (map by David)
At the very top of a significant ascent I decided I would try to finish the entire hike on this day. Why I did this I’m not even sure. I did notice in the beginning of this section of the NCT that it would be difficult to find a campsite because you are basically walking along a ridge with a steep upward slope to your right and a steep downward slope to your left. Unbelievably, I made it to the car just after 7 PM and had done 15.75 miles that day! The NCT is pretty uneventful but still a nice trail nonetheless. There are a few interesting sections and the ascents and descents definitely make for some fun.
I learned that doing 15.75 miles was way too much for my right ankle. Later, I discovered I was basically unable to walk on my right ankle. Finally on the third day I was able to do a decent amount of walking on it.
Overall, it was a great trip and everything I took performed wonderfully.
This segment is on NCTA map MI-06
See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA