2021: Let’s try this again….

Saturday, 23rd January 2021; 2:29 pm - Location:

It’s time to start planning for 2021! Last year’s scooter trip didn’t happen, for obvious reasons. There are no guarantees for this year, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism, and I’m choosing that.

The basic plan – visiting a few places I’ve missed on previous trips – is the same. In brief: Ride the scooter up to NW Michigan. Spend a day hiking South Manitou Island. Take the scooter to Beaver Island for a couple days. Visit the Wilderness State Park and/or Headlands Dark Sky Park on the Straits of Mackinac. Scoot home.

It’s premature to start making any reservations, but for the sake of Making A Plan, I’ve picked a week: the second week of August. That should allow plenty of time for my number to be called in the vaccine queue, while still getting it done before the weather starts to get cool/wet in the Fall.

2020 may be cancelled

Wednesday, 20th May 2020; 10:28 am - Location:

When things started going sideways in March, I was making plans for this year’s adventure. I chose to put off a return to Isle Royale until next year, and decided on a ride up the west coast and back for this Summer. Highlights were to include a day or overnight visit to South Manitou Island, a day or a few on Beaver Island, and a night at the Headlands Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City… all places I’ve skipped on previous visits to the area, because I didn’t have time to include them.

That’s still a possibility. The number of Covid cases in the Fingertips region has remained low, and Governor Whitmer has relaxed restrictions in the area, so it’s possible that by July or August things it will be practical and safe for a lone scooterist who mostly keeps to himself to travel there. On the other hand, it’s also possible that won’t happen, so I’m uncommitted.

The biggest risk posed – either to me, or by me – would be at campgrounds. When I’m on the road I’m practicing social distancing by default, and I can get take-out instead of eating at restaurants. But the shared bathroom facilities at any campground would be a problem. Those would require extra precautions to be safe, and because people are stupid and lazy… they might not be.

With that in mind, I may instead borrow a page from a few years ago, and just do some day trips. That limits my range, and misses out on some of the fun of pitching my tent and exploring a park, but it would be a good way to get out of the house, and still stay safe.

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.