Trails I've Ridden

What My Wife Calls My Bragging Wall:

Ohio: The Biggest Little Mountain Bike Trail (Camp Tuscazoar) 2 Ton Falls, Medina Reagan, Royalview, Bedford, West Branch, Mohican, *Vulture’s Knob, Lake Hope, the shit in Columbus, Dillon, The Wilds, AEP Lands, Wayne National Forest/Marietta, Findley Michigan Island Lake, Highland, Proud Lake, Hickory Glen, Novi Tree Farm, Addison Oaks, Merrill, Luton, Pontiac Lake, ***Potowatomi, Brighton, Yankee Springs, Fort Custer, **Big M, North Country Trail segments, *Copper Harbor, Boyne Highlands, High Country Pathway, Bass River, Stoney Creek, Hungerford, Florida Hannah State Park, Jacksonville West Virginia **Cooper’s Rock, **Davis, Slatyfork, Watters Smith, Two track to Wonder Falls/Big Sandy River Gorge, Big Bear, Mountwood, Kanawha, North Bend, Spruce Knob, Valley Falls Pennsylvania Moraine, Brady’s Run, Laurel Mountain, Tomlinson Run, Quebec Run, *Apollo/Roaring Run, Northpark, Bavington, Allegrippis, Blue Knob, 2 Mile Run, Tussey Mountain, Rothrock/Cooper's Gap Virginia **Carvin’s Cove, Massanutten, Harrisonburg/Reddish Knob New York Ellicottville Maryland *Gambrill/Frederick Watershed North Carolina Dupont, Pisgah, Rocky Knob, *Dark Mountain, that trail with all the berms in Wilksboro Arizona Sedona California *Sequel Demo South Dakota *Storm Mountain, Tinton Trail

Utah: Zen, Barrel Roll/Suicidal tendencies, Gooseberry, Guacamole, JEM

Brown County Indiana

* My favorites

My Strava Feed

Classic 2Ton30Inch Pics

Artemis and the Pack

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Working Draft: There's Mani-one and Manitou: a couple of nights on North Manitou Island, Michigan

The game plan was to spend four days/three nights backpacking North Manitou Island, ten miles off the coast of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dune in northwest Michigan. Made the ferry reservations, secured the dogs, bought some booze, and headed north. Except this:

Not to worry: As they say, there's no bad weather, just bad gear.

Leland Michigan's Fishtown. Pretty damn cool. Think: mini Cannery Row.

This is what you look like when you're not quite sure what you've gotten yourself into. North Manitou is designated as "Wilderness" by the NPS, which for many people sounds like "NO FUN": no vehicles, no pets, no fires, dig a cat hole and try to stay tidy. Strictly drink-what-you-brought/love-the-one-you're-with/every-man-for-himself territory.

Carefully cradling her last cold Diet Coke, my lovely wife slowly started to warm up to the thought of no people, no stress.  Hell, the trip was her idea so she had no choice. Rule #1 of wilderness adventure: he/she who hatches the plan, waives the right to bitch. As it turned out, there was absolutely nothing to bitch about. North Manitou turned out to be our idea of paradise. Except for the No-See-Ums.
Little bastards.

The Wickee Mocka WowWow (or something like that) had some big balls and quickly got up to speed for the hour ride across one of the most dangerous passages for boats in the Northern Hemisphere. Thus began my love affair with Bell's Two Hearted Ale, which was served ice cold for a mere $6.00 a can.
I shouldn't jest: the ferry service to North and South Manitou has a rich legacy of safely transporting fools like us and they run a tight ship: when they say they're leaving at 12:40, they really mean it. We couldn't ask for a better start to our adventure, and I think the folks who run the ferry service are kickass. 

Indeed upon arrival, they quickly kicked our asses off at the NPS dock. After the rangers tried to scare us with a brief talk about the monetary dangers of camping within 300 feet of the water and building fires (turns out they weren't bluffing), we were off....And within minutes our itinerary was thrown to the constantly shifting winds of Lake Michigan.

I mean, we didn't come here to walk the main trail through the woods. You can do that anywhere. We zigged as everyone else zagged north, and headed south down the beach for some sunshine and solitude. 

We're not even amateur geologists but we know some cool rocks when we see them. These stretches of weathered white rocks rivaled anything we'd seen at Copper Harbor or Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

We stomped a little, then found a place to make camp. The fog rolled in and it seemed like we were in for another experience like we'd had at Pictured Rocks: yeah, yeah, if you look real close through the fog and use your imagination, you can see what you came to see. But really we couldn't that day, but we had a sublime time anyway. This time was different: we were on an island and only the main trail was marked and evident. Finding the secondary trails, even with a map, was kind of a crap shoot, and forget about the "historic trails" - they had devolved/recovered into something less than deer paths. It was fun, tho, because we had our shit together and the lake was always our guide.

After checking out Bournique's homestead, one of the few historic homestead structures left standing by the NPS, and an incredibly beautiful cemetery that gave us pause, we were treated to a weird phenomenon: I can only describe it as a fog rainbow.