Monday, September 18, 2017

This trail is full of ...

... Moose marbles.  They apparently make great food for 'shrooms. 

This was trail that clearly gets no respect.  It lies between the territory of the North Country Trail Hikers local chapter and the Peter Wolfe Chapter.  Neither club seems to claim it or take responsibility.  It's mostly road walking.  Okay - I can handle a day or two of road walking, right?A bit boring - no surprises, just agitating the gravel hour after hour.  At least that's what I told myself as I set out.

Was I ever "full of it".  More precisely I was wading knee deep in the sh*t.

Water, that is.  Old US 41 has a sturdy old concrete bridge over the Sturgeon River,

but since they built the new highway, this old road is very seldom used.  And the reason is this knee-deep mud pit.  It's engine-drowning deep with no way around it. 

Fortunately my engines don't drown that easily.

It took two days of hiking to get through this Pile-o-Shite trail segment.  With a day off tacked on, that meant three hats.  Right at the start the crap hit the fan when Hat 75 and I met these signs as we turned off US 41 (the paved and mud-pit free current version).

The only way to get to Craig Lake State Park is via one of two 'high clearance' roads.  It's billed as the most remote of Michigan's State Parks, and that's no bullsh ... no pile of moose marbles.  My high-clearance legs handled the road just fine.

The footbridges on the Craig Lake circuit trail are better built than the roads.

The bridge shown is not for the North Country Trail.  We got much less elaborate crossings, such as this one over the frisky Lake Elinor Outlet stream.

Hat 76 just sat on a rock, admiring how the color of the rock matched the fall wardrobe of the nearby ferns

Hat 77 was impressed that one could purchase this vast peat bog.

It really was a pretty bog.

But what do you do with a square mile of bog?  Well, the moose probably love it.  Great fodder for making more marbles.

Here are the GPS Tracks for my two days in limbo.


  1. The NCTA and the local chapters have been trying to get easements to connect the Marquette chapter to the PWC for years. Funding is needed for the easements and that kind of money is hard to find in all volunteer chapters. I always see sign of moose on OLD US41, sorry about all the rain filling the path there. We hope to get our easements and get the trail back where it is planned, rather than these road walks.
    Connie Julien, President PWC of the NCT

    1. Connie - thanks so much for taking the time to comment in reply to this post. What I am referring to when I talk about the section that seems to be between your chapter and the Marquette Chapter is the route that hikers must currently use. Apparently there is a disconnect, not just in the trail between chapters, but a disconnect between the promotion and the reality of the NCT and between the perceptions of the trail managers and the trail users. As a long distance hiker I *NEED* continuous trail, continuously blazed, continuously maintained, whether on road or in the woods. Is the North Country Trail a continuous trail, as it is advertised to be? Or is it a series of unconnected local segments that long distance hikers should avoid? It's pretty clear that the local clubs enjoy and want and even need the long distance hikers like me, who provide free publicity via media such as this blog, and therefore attract more hikers, more interest, and ultimately more support. If so, and this applies not just to this one gap between your chapter and the Marquette chapter, but ALL road walks along the entire 4600 mile route of the NCT - *Please* blaze these connecting routes so that long distance hikers can actually 'Follow the Blue Blazes' as all the signs on Carsonite posts advertise (with the *continuous* line across NY, PA, OH, MI, WI, MN, and ND)and not get hopelessly lost. Thanks again, thanks for all the hard work you and the other volunteers are doing, and thanks for letting me bend your ear.