Up North Sampler: Round 2

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Last year, I joined our local outfitter (Wanderlust) for a beginner backpacking trip “up North”. I had not been backpacking since I moved here, and I really wanted to get back into it. I enjoyed myself so much and met so many interesting people, I decided to do it again this year. As a matter of fact, I’m going on TWO trips with them this year!

The “Up North” trip was in late June, and we followed the same itinerary that we had last year. We backpacked in for 6 miles, pitched camp, played around at the Bowman Bridge Campground and canoed out on Sunday on the Pere Marquette River. They said the river would be lower this year, so we’d get to see this pretty little jewel in its normal state.

I’ve been visiting the store with some frequency over the year, and I’ve attended several classes, so I know the owners and their staff a little better. I know you can’t imagine that I’m shy, but I do tend to hang back a bit when in the presence of a lot of strangers. I knew at the start that I already felt more like myself with the group, and I hoped I’d meet some more friends that like the outdoors.

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I spent some time getting to know folks on the school bus ride to the Manistee National Forest. We unloaded our gear, doused ourselves with insect repellant, got packs on our backs and started walking. It was a beautiful day. I’m still a bit shocked at the green lushness in a Michigan forest. Our growing season is not long, but our plants seem to make the best of it. This trail is lined beautifully with delicate ferns. I felt like I was walking in a magical land.

We hiked really fast in, so some of the group went on another hike, but I wanted to hang out and relax. Brittany assigned fire duties to me, as they were going to be preparing meal packets for cooking over the fire later. With no cell service, I spent the afternoon tending the fire, enjoying my surroundings and chatting with fellow travelers.

When everyone returned from the hiking and the gear demos offered down by the river, we cooked our meal packets over the fire. Campfire food is so delicious. I took one bite from my packet and decided I wanted another packet of potatoes and butter for dessert. I fixed it while I was eating so I could chow down right after dinner. I was pleasantly full and relaxed after all of those white potatoes! I slept amazingly well.

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We woke up to rain, but it was just a drizzle. After eating breakfast, we broke camp and started our canoe trip. The river was beautiful and so was the day until it started raining. But, hey, I had on a swimsuit, so who cares if it rains? It was still nice, and I felt very relaxed if a little cold when we got back to sandwiches and snacks.

This is such a great little trip for beginners. It gives you a taste of canoeing and camping/backpacking. But it’s even fun for people like me because you have someone doing the heavy lifting on cooking and cleanup while you just enjoy the trip. I spent Independence Day with one of the friends I made on the trip this year, and I’m running a race with another one in early August. It was a great way to meet some like-minded people. I hope to make more friends in Pictured Rocks!

Now, I’m looking forward to the Pictured Rocks trip in a few weeks. This is one of my bucket list trips. It’s an intermediate backpack, so I’ll have to get back into my routine of packing my own meals. I’m looking forward to brushing off my dehydrator and trying some new recipes. I had so much fun doing that in Louisiana. And now I’ll get to do it on the shores of alligator-free Lake Superior! (BTW… I do think they have a few spots left if you are interested! Check out their Facebook page for details.)

Pictured Rocks, Here I come……

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