2020 vision

Sunday, 25th August 2019; 12:29 pm

I have two plans for my next excursion, and I may do one or both of them in 2020. They’re A) hiking the west end of Isle Royale and B) scootering the west coast of Michigan.

My previous visits to Isle Royale either explored the east end of the island, or hiked down the middle of it. This leaves some of the more rugged and less-traveled trails on the west end – particularly the Feldtmann and Minong Ridge Trails – and that’s where I plan to go. For this trip, I’ll take the car up to Grand Portage, Minnesota, and take the ferry from there, as that gives the easiest access to the west part of the island. I need to get in better shape before taking this trip, however, mostly because the hip belt on my long-distance backpack requires access to my hips to carry the weight properly.

My very first big road trip went up the Lake Michigan shoreline, but then I kept going, around to Wisconsin. This time I’d only go as far as the Straits of Mackinac. What I’d add would be stops to visit a couple of the islands along the way. I’ve been to North Manitou twice, but not to the smaller South Manitou, so I’d spend a day and night there. And I’ve never been to Beaver Island, which is ironic, as it’s one of the most scooter-accessible islands in the Great Lakes. This trip would also be my first visit to Wilderness State Park, which I’ve always bypassed on the way to Mackinac.

In a sense, each of these trips is a conceptual spin-off from my aborted Lake Superior ride, which included a little of each idea, but they were swamped out by too much highway riding. Each venture would take about a week. It would be nice to do both in a single summer, but I’m not sure if I can manage that much time off in such a short period of time, which is why it might end up being two summers.

No lands left to conquer?

Friday, 19th July 2019; 5:43 pm - Location:

I’m not finished riding.

Riding the highways all the way around Lake Superior was going to be more aggravating and stressful than fun. And I’m not likely to add a lot of new territory to my map, because it takes increasingly long to get beyond it. Besides: riding in Michigan is the best. 🙂 I don’t have anything planned at the moment, but I will be doing another big ride.

In the meantime… one of the things I do regret about cutting short this most recent ride are the destinations I didn’t get to. The Apostle Islands have been on the fringes of my exploration for a while now. And I was looking forward to popping in for a few hours on Isle Royale.

I was tentatively planning a more substantial visit to Isle Royale in 2022, on the 20th anniversary of my first visit. But now I’ve decided to do it next year. I’ll leave the scooter behind, and just take the car across to Wisconsin on the Badger, check out the Apostles, then drive up the coast to Grand Portage.

I’ll take the Minnesota ferry across to Windigo on the west end of the island, as I’d planned to do this week. But instead of taking a 4-hour hike, I’m going to explore some substantial trails that I’ve missed in my previous visits: the Feldtmann Ridge Trail, the Island Mine Trail, and the Minong Ridge Trail. That’s at least 4 days of hiking, probably more like 6.

One of the reasons I was thinking of doing it in 2022 was to give myself time to get in better shape for it. I did a couple days of fairly easy hiking on Isle Royale about five years ago, but the Minong Ridge especially is pretty challenging, and I know I’d be unhappy trying to do it in my current condition. So I’m going to need to get started on training.

I’ll keep y’all posted as plans develop. I’m off to the gym.

Made it to Mackinaw

Monday, 15th July 2019; 5:14 pm

For the record: I made it across the Bridge to Mackinaw City, found the van where I’d left it, and loaded Flash on board. Next stop: home.

Last leg to the Straits

Monday, 15th July 2019; 4:41 pm

Rerouting the trip to avoid several long days of mostly-just-tedious-highway-riding didn’t mean I wouldn’t have any days like that. Today was that day.

US-2 runs the southern length of the UP and it’s nearly impossible to avoid taking it, because in some places it’s the only road from A to B. So even though I hate it, I had to ride it a little ways.

But as soon as I could, I left it. I turned north at Engadine (not to be confused with a recent Avengers movie) and rode Hiawatha Trail and Trout Lake Road instead. Much nicer.

So I made it safely to St Ignace. It’s early enough in the day to cross the Bridge, get the van, and drive home. And since the weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow is kind of rainy, I think I’m going to do that.

UP turn

Monday, 15th July 2019; 2:01 pm

Sometimes when the road takes a sudden turn, it turns like this.

(Photo taken yesterday.)

Kitch-iti-kipi

Monday, 15th July 2019; 11:30 am

There’s a big spring nearish Manistique, called Kitch-iti-kipi. I stopped there 10 years ago, but the rain had let up, so I detoured over to it for another visit.

The water flows out of the ground at a constant temperature, year round, creating a pool of very clear water, that flows off into Indian Lake. There’s a flock/herd/gaggle of fish who live in the pond at the spring.

The park service has a hand-cranked raft on a cable that visitors can take across the little pond. It has a roof, and it’s open in the middle, so you can look down and see the bottom without waves/sunlight interfering. It’s fascinating just to watch the fish, then as you get to the middle you see the bottom roiling as the water flows up through it.