hiking Michigan

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8/21

Mile 9,132

Once again, overdue, but here we go.

My stay in Portland was like college all over again.  Sleeping on couches in an overcrowded house wearing nothing but rugby shorts.

…and the bus is a bedroom.

Our accommodations were arranged via Couchsurf, and our hosts were lovely and friendly.  Eight residents and four guests made for one interesting place.  It was an experience to say the least.

Folks were in and out all day, bodies passed out on couches, and doors were never locked.

We went out to a street festival on Alberta St.  I was joined by Ladina and two other wonderful couch surfers.  We watched performers, perused the art on display, gorged ourselves on street food, and soaked in the setting.

“Portlandia” jokes were abound as we walked amongst oddity, yet I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit envious of it all.

After a number of music stops and a greater number of drunks, we headed in after a successful first night.

In the following days we helped a few residents move out and one move in, chased more waterfalls and rope swings, and ate.

Portland’s strength is certainly in it’s food.

It was then time to head North to Olympic National Park in Washington.  The drive was beautiful, almost entirely by water, be it lake, river, or coast.  

The drive to camp was a gnarly one, taking us up 17 miles of dirt cliffside roads.  Our campsite was at a high elevation, overlooking the mountains while deer passed through the campsites regularly.

After a couple days of hiking, cooking, and enjoying the Olympic back country, it was time to head to Seattle.

We took a ferry across the bay, then picked up Ladina’s friend, Katherine, from the airport.  The next couple of days included exploring the wonderful city, trying every beer I could, and chugging as much coffee as possible.

It was time to part ways with Ladina and Katherine as they headed up to Canada.  From there I departed to East Washington to meet up with my old rugby friend, Hunter.

We caught up, nerded out by watching Ant Man, toured wine country, and did a bit of hiking in the Washington high desert.

After a relaxing weekend and a rousing morning of doggy swim lessons, it was time to start heading East once again.

Montana was a quick stop, and quite frankly a regret since I was not able to stay long.  I stopped in Lolo National Forest to camp, worked and explored Bozeman, ate a bison burger, and then took the scenic route to Yellowstone.

It is amazing to think that originally I wasn’t sure about visiting Yellowstone.  When thinking of National Parks, Yellowstone is the first to come to mind, followed by the crowds and high expectations.  

Yellowstone lived up to my expectations, and then told them to sit down.  Geologic wonder after another, followed by a beautiful night under the stars, clouds, and a few meteors.

It was a bit unnerving camping solo in grizzly country, a week after an unfortunate hiker met his end to one, but well worth the experience and new found confidence.

Once again, in true theme with this trip, it was time to leave earlier than I had wished.  From there I headed East to Big Horn Canyon and then Forest en route to South Dakota.

This guy eventually charged me as he didn’t like his picture taken.  Thankfully he respects Subarus as he veered off as I got in my car.

After a night of camping in East Wyoming, it was time to observe some national monuments.  The first stop was the Crazy Horse monument.  Though still under construction, the sheer size and scope of this undertaking is absurd.  When completed, this would make the Colossus of Rhodes blush.

The entirety of Mt. Rushmore fits where Crazy Horse’s head is.  The monument will point out, reflecting his famous quote when asked “Where are your lands now?”

“My lands are where my dead lie buried”

Afterwards it was then to head to Mt. Rushmore.

After checking out the monument, reading on it’s history, checking into a work meeting via video call, and then chugging a Budweiser for freedom, it was time to head to the Badlands.

The Badlands are aptly named, as all the ridges and features are loose and silty, making the trip across them quite treacherous.

The night was quite honestly one of the best of my life.  The sky was clear, giving way to the deepest look into the galaxy I have ever beheld, peppered with the remnants of the Perseid Meteor shower.  Without rain clouds, I didn’t bother putting a fly over my tent, and I was lulled to sleep with a visual banquet of enormity and splendor.

The following morning, I had paid for the night in full.  What was a 15-20 minute descent into the valley I had set up camp, took three hours to climb back up.  After a tricky climb back up my previous route, I came to the painful realization that I couldn’t overcome the final obstacle without putting myself to serious risk of getting hurt and tumbling down the ridge 150 feet.  After attempting to engineer solutions such as climbing without my pack and pulling it up via rope, it was time to turn around, climb back down, and try another route.

It was a scorcher of a day, and a maze of ups and downs.  After covering my body with cuts & bruises, a number of prayers, and exhausting myself physically and mentally, I made it back up, and sat in my car’s AC for a good while before I headed to Sioux Falls, where I stayed at an Airbnb to work.

The next day was off to Minneapolis, where I met up with my partner in crime, Joe for the next leg of the trip.

We naturally found a British Pub, complete with curry, imperial pints, and lawn bowling.  

After a rowdy night out, with a stop at First Avenue due to our obsession with Prince and Purple Rain, it was time to head out to Wisconsin.  We drove through a number of small towns to get to our first destination of Chequamegon National Forest.  

We set up camp by the lake, took a quick swim, listened to the loons, and once again tried to live up to our rugby days with Budweiser and failed miserably.  

The next day it was off to the Yoop (apparently local talk for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan).  

Our drive took us to the lovely town of Marquette.  Though it was overcast and chilly, the beer from the local breweries kept us warm.  

We made memorable friendships who gave us superb advice on where to go and camp.  We went down to the nearby Carp River to set up camp in the dark.

The next day was a trip up the Carp River, exploring the backwoods and waterfalls, and getting bit by some as of yet unidentified bug with pincers/fangs the size of needles.

The night was a fun game, beer, and food fueled night through the quiet town with new friends.

After a long and memorable night, it was time to make the drive to the Lower Peninsula.

It was there we ventured to the Traverse City area, where I sit now, as we prepare for the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Our stay so far, with my amazing parents, has been relaxing, full of great food, kayaking, wine, and drunken board games.

It’s truly hard to believe that this voyage of mine is drawing to a close.  I miss my home and am ready to return, yet am already looking forward to my next adventure and the trials and wonderful experiences it will contain.

10

Last week we went up north for a few days. We spent the first afternoon playing in Traverse City. We started at Right Brain Brewing for waffle sandwiches and Spicy Thai Peanut beer(one of my favorites), afterwards we walked over to the beach to kill time waiting for Brewery Ferment to open. We tried a Passion & Pain beer along side the Cafe L'Orange, both excellent and unique. We finished there and drove up to the tip of Old Mission, stopping along the way for a glass of peach sangria at 2 Lads and their delicious fancy cheese plate. From there, we went up to the Lighthouse and the surrounding trials where we hiked about 3 miles in light rain. Our reservations for the night were at an Airbnb in Bellaire so we stopped at Short’s Brewing Co for a late night dinner and flight before checking in.