Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Mackinac Bridge Walk - the critical connection

Hat Number 70 bobs up and down as we trek across the 'Big Mac' on a mild, cloudy Labor Day morning.

As I hike the country I hold to one rule above all others.  My footprints must be continuous--no gaps beyond the normal distance between strides.  The whole point of my hiking is to establish a continuous walking trail that connects all the places I have ever lived.  When it's done, I can say that I didn't really need modern transportation.  I only needed my two feet.

Ever since August 4th, when I started hiking the North Country Trail across Michigan's upper peninsula (UP), I've lacked that continuous connection.  It was on hold until the one day each year when people can walk the Mackinac Bridge.  That day finally came exactly a month later--Labor Day.  And now the deed is done.

I got an early start.  My vehicle was among the first couple dozen to park on the St. Ignace side of the bridge, where the start line is.  So I had about an hour and a half wait in the pre-dawn mist before the walk began.

Looking south at the almost empty bridge from the start line an hour before dawn

Rain had been in the forecast, and I learned that umbrellas were not allowed, so we were all very fortunate that the last of the rain left the area even before I arrived.

Finally the walk started.

How many different shots can I show of people walking the bridge before it gets boring?

It took me about an hour and a half to do the walk.

And I made darn sure I crossed my previous footprints from August 3rd by circling this sign at the North Central Trail trailhead.

Then I had a full hour wait in line to take the shuttle bus back across. 

I was back at my car in the Bridge View parking lot about 10AM, and captured this final shot as the crowds kept streaming across.

The walk ended about 11:30AM, so if I had cared to, I could have actually walked the bridge twice.  No thanks.  There were people there who had walked the bridge every year for decades, sporting jackets or vests covered with patches from each event.  This year was the 60th annual bridge walk, so theoretically I could have done every one.  But once will be enough for me.

Here's the screen shot GPS Track of the day's walking, including the meandering around at the start line on the north end and the zig-zag route of the waiting line to get on the bus.

The deed is done.  I am again walking a continuous foot trail as I ramble on across the UP.  Big sigh of relief.

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