Trails I've Ridden


What My Wife Calls My Bragging Wall:

Ohio: CVNP Trails, Camp Tuscazoar, 2 Ton Falls, Medina Reagan, Royalview, Bedford, West Branch, Mohican, **Vulture’s Knob, Lake Hope, Alum Creek, 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 Dilling to Marilla, Timber Creek/Freesoil, Baxter Bridge, Kipp Road, *Copper Harbor, Boyne Highlands, High Country Pathway, Bass River, Stoney Creek, Hungerford, Hines Trails, Bruno's Run, Marquette North and South, Harlow Lake

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, ***North Fork Mountain, Kennison Mountain**

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, Kennerdell

Virginia **Carvin’s Cove, Massanutten, Elizabeth Furnace/Signal Knob Harrisonburg/Reddish Knob

New York Ellicottville

Maryland ***Gambrill/Frederick Watershed

North Carolina Dupont, Pisgah: Turkey Pen, ***Bennet Gap, ***Daniels Ridge, Bracken, Black Mountain, Long Branch. ***Kitsuma, Rocky Knob, *Dark Mountain, Warrior Creek

Arizona Sedona: Highline, Slim Shady

California *Sequel Demo

South Dakota *Storm Mountain, Tinton Trail

Utah: St. George/Hurricane: Zen, Barrel Roll/Suicidal tendencies, Gooseberry, Guacamole, JEM

**Brown County Indiana

* My favorites

My Strava Feed


Classic 2Ton30Inch Pics


Artemis and the Pack

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Going Feral.....Partially.

For a number of years, my wife and I have been primitive car camping at Lake Michigan Rec near Manistee MI. So after much searching, we finally bought a couple of acres of our own near the Little Manistee River's Nine Mile Bridge. The property has electric, water, and a septic system, and a 13 by 30 concrete pad surrounded by thousands of acres of national forest, including the North Country Trail which runs along the back boundary line.  
Our goal this year was to tent camp there most of July. 
Our essential purchases included:
- a garage-style canvas frame tent
- a Clam screen tent, which kicks ass
- two sleeping cots (which we bought at Costco for $25 apiece, and retail $150 at REI!!)
- an on-demand hot water outdoor shower
- a camping sink with hose connect
- a dormitory-sized refrigerator, microwave and electric coffee pot 
- two Germans and one Australian shepherd

With some trial and error, we managed to  make Our Place quite comfortable. 

IN BED BY SUNDOWN
We woke every morning to the songs of the resident Rufus-sided Towhee, and finished many days with a hike out to a hillside where we could watch, listen and learn while a group of nighthawks buzzed and whirred through the evening air. 


HE RODE LIKE AN OLD MAN
My son Adam and his family joined us for a few days, and I finally got to share one of my all-time favorite trail systems, Big M. 



THAT'S NOT CAMPING!
The 200 square feet of space inside our tent provided plenty of room for us to eat, sleep and lounge. Amazingly, the only bugs we had to deal with were gnats, which didn't bite but were mildly annoying anyway. We never quite got used to them, but sometimes they would be entirely absent; other times, especially after a rain shower, they would send us running for the screen tent. 



WITTY AND ERUDITE
We spent 4th of July in Manistee, watching and laughing with a bunch of local crazy old guys known as the Scottville Clown Band. I think their motto says it all. 



29+ RULES
Besides having the sweet singletrack at Big M a mile from our tent, I literally had hundreds of miles of federal two-track to explore, some of which led me to discover the beauty of the Little Manistee River valley. 



NO SHARKS, NO SALT, NO CONDOS
No where that I know of offers so much mountain biking so close to such a beautiful coast line. Karen and I have spent some incredible moments of our lives exploring the Lake Michigan beaches and adjoining dunes and forests.



SAGGY OLD MAN SIGHTING
Lake Michigan's crystal clear waters were warm for this time of the year. Hazzy likes to hunt for birds there. 



I GOT A KOM. ALMOST
Not only does Big M offer some incredible singletrack, but the section of the North Country Trail that runs through the region is open to mountain biking as well. Altogether, we can access about a hundred miles of singletrack right from our property. 



MOSQUITO-FREE BEER STOP
A fishing hole on the Little Manistee near Pomeroy Springs. 



SCRAMBLE THROUGH THE DOWNPOUR
We struggled a bit with making our tent rain proof. Its footprint was only 10x20 so we chose the line up two sides with the edge of the concrete slab. Unfortunately, the other two sides drain down onto the slab and into the tent. Our solution was temporary and rigged, but Karen ultimately found a way to keep the inside of the tent water-free through a number of heavy downpours. Not bad for a 200 square foot space that really wasn't designed for Glamping!!



NO FERAL HUMANS ALLOWED. JUST DOGS AND BEER
Somehow, the Fifth Street Beach in Manistee had escaped our notice over the years, but now that we've found it, it has become our go-to escape for a bit of civilization, with its nearly white sand beach, concession stand and easy but hidden access. A true gem. 



NOCTURNAL PISSINGS
Nights are transformative away from the lights of cities. I woke up many nights to gaze in amazement at the Milky Way. 



TINY DOG HEAD
One problem we dealt with was ticks. After daily tedious efforts by Karen to inspect the dogs, we finally gave up and got Supai shaved. The groomer found 18 on her as well as a porcupine quill. Supe has already contracted Lyme disease, and we're very concerned about our exposure to it. 



RUBBER DUCKS
One of the best things about our time up north are our kayak trips. Ertie and Gertie, our mascot ducks, got to explore three more sections of the Little Manistee. All told, there are about 10 hours of paddling available to us within a short drive from the property. That's not counting the other rivers in the area!



AMATEUR UKULELE PLAYERS
We've become sunset snobs, so the conditions had to be right for us to stay at the beach for night fall. Watching campers gather at the shore for the ritual always warms my soul, tho. It's such a cool, communal experience. 



CLUSTERFUCK
One of the projects was to replace the floor of the shed and move it out of our forest sight line. It turned into an ordeal after I decided the whole thing could be dismantled and rebuilt. Karen and I made it thru a bit ruffled but ultimately unscathed! 



ATE IT
My first catch in the Little Manistee. 



MOUNTED IT
My second catch. I was hoping for something more interesting than a shiner and a chubb. Later I caught a couple of bass, but I learned that there's a lot I need to learn about trout fishing. 



NOT RECOMMENDED
I had read that another section of the NCT was open to mountain biking, the Baxter Bridge area north of Mesick. Well over 100 feet climbing per mile on average, but it provides some awesome views of the upper reaches of the Big Manistee river valley. 



29+ EATS GRAVEL LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND
Big M, the site of the Lumberjack 100, offers about 30 miles of pure singletrack, in a system of interconnected loops. It's also transected by forest two-track, so I spent some time getting to know the entire system. 



THERE AINT NO FISH IN THERE!
Hamlin Lake, one of our favorite places to paddle. 



POPS POOPS IN THE WOODS
The homestead really began shaping up after awhile. It's fun to think that this is only the beginning. 



SHOOTIN IRONS
Karen's brother and wife joined us for a couple of days, so we went target shooting at the Big M range. 



HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
One of my camping requirements for a long-term adventure is a hot shower. Our propane-fired unit worked nearly flawlessly. Outdoor showers kick ass. 



GOING FERAL, STAGE TWO
The dogs, especially Csaba, began to learn the skill of river swimming, so we made a few evening trips to this beautiful spot on the Little Manistee. 



WOLVES NIGHTLY
Nothing like the joy of the dogs when they're river stomping. 


SHE WALKS ON WATER
Csaba learned a few things about the power of the current. A couple of close calls left him undaunted, though. 



HALF MILE BUSHWACK
One of my riding goals was to find Lake of the Woods. 



BIG BEAVER .... DAM
We hiked downstream from Tippy Dam and had one of the best experiences of the whole month. Beautiful. 
I wholly concur with the No Biking regulation. There's some places where you just shouldn't hear "passing on the left."



REWILDING CONTINUED
The crystal clear waters of Michigan rivers never fail to amaze me. We quickly realized that the main draw for most people are the federal lands to our north. We were lucky enough to be visited by our friends from Big Rapids and spent a wonderful afternoon kayaking with them on the Little Manistee and dining at Doc's Big Sauble Inn. 



VODKA AND HAWAIIAN PUNCH
We were so blown away by the Big Manistee that we decided to paddle the same section. Incredible. 



HYBRID COYOTES
Dead Horse Marsh boardwalk a few miles down the NCT. 



GROWN MAN GIGGLES
The out and back from Dilling Road to Marilla is one of the best rides in the Midwest. 



EASY ON THE FILTERS, POPS
Once you get going on the two-track, it's hard to stop exploring. The 29+ tires seemed to be perfectly matched for every condition, whether it was the twisty old school single track of the NCT and Big M or the sandy fe(de)ral roads. 




CLIMB IT, WUSS
I figured out some nice routes around Big M that average about 100 feet of climbing per mile. Not bad for Michigan! I'm anxious to have my Ohio crew come up and enjoy it. 



THE COCKY CANOEIST
This was taken while I was feeling the glory of paddling a canoe down a river, my original outdoor passion. Moments later I broke the oldest rule and leaned a bit too far upstream while avoiding a strainer. After the dumping, I realized my fishing pole was no where to be found. I waded back into the current and saw it pinned underwater against the log. Fortunately, the tip was pointed upward and downstream and I was able to grab it and retrieve it. This was on the section just downstream from the notorious Nine Mile Bridge section where two people drowned last year. 



FOOLISH MAN
The Little Manistee, although only creek size, demands respect because of the gradient and volume. Most deadfall trees are left in place to provide cover for fish. 



PRIDE GOETH BEFORE THE FALL


CLEAR WATERS RUN FAST AND SOMETIMES DEEP


NO TROUT FOR YOU
I attempted to canoe and fish at the same time, but my skills are not up to the task. I caught a couple of small bass on our final day, but the real prize remains elusive. 



BOB IS THE MAN
Karen's dad, a former engineer, provided us with probably the most useful improvement: an outlet box and heavy duty cable that allowed us to plug in our fridge, microwave, cell phone chargers and fans. Without it, we would have gone full-on feral. 
Now that we're back home, I'm feeling shut out from the sounds and sights we began to take for granted living closer to the natural world.  Four walls and a roof are nice, but our month living in a tent transformed me in ways I can't articulate. 



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vulture's Knob

Monday, June 27, 2016

North Manitou Island

After having such a great time backpacking North Manitou Island last year, my wife and I decided to return. This time we invited our niece Carolyn, and we all enjoyed the peace and solitude of a place Karen and I have fallen in love with. 




The passage from Leland across the historic strait. 







We were met this time by a National Park volunteer, who warned us of the spirits that arise on solstice nights under a full moon. 


We stuck to our plan and headed down the east shore, then across to the west side where we would set up camp and take day hikes. 




The history of the island is fascinating, and every clearing and passage through the woods has a story, many of which we are beginning to learn. 


This was once among the forty miles of roads that have now mostly returned to a natural state. It doesn't take much to see the old road cuts that extend into the forest, tho. 




Carolyn was a real trooper. We dubbed her hat "Goby".  



The beach is wild and the sunsets are wilder. 






Our campsite sat on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, with a view toward South Manitou and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. 



We got super lucky with the weather; the days were sunny and blue, and the nights were just chilly enough for a sleeping bag. 



South Manitou in the distance. 



Miller's Beach and Dimmick's Point, the site of the Piping Plover Sanctuary. We had a great time hunting Petosky Stones. 


The colors are nearly tropical. 





Woke up the second day and hiked the shore up toward the site of Crescent City, following deer and coyote tracks part of the way. 
On the way back to the east side, we made the short hike to the Stormer Place, a beautiful homestead clearing that is slowly being reclaimed by the wilds. 



This was our campsite on the third night, a short walk to the nearly white sand beach, crystal clear water and a view that rivals any place I've ever been. 



The water was a bit chilly on the east side, but we had the beach all to ourselves. That evening we visited the island cemetery; the names and the stories are slowly becoming familiar to us. 



Carolyn swam a bit too long and had to spend some time warming back up. Karen and I took a nice stroll down the beach and found the remains of the old Stormer Dock and the plank roadway that once extended down the east side of the island. 



Crazy incredible view. 





Our tent perched up on the secondary dune. 


We made it back a little early on the final morning, and the volunteer showed us a pair of Piping Plovers that had taken up residence on the beach near the dock. 





We got into some cool conversations with some fellow backpackers on the ferry boat ride back to Leland, ate a good meal at the cool restaurant beside the dam, then drove Carolyn to the big dune at Sleeping Bear. She vowed to return and do the climb, and we said goodbye to the island in the distance for another year.