Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Manistee River Trail

So as mentioned in my last post, I spent the weekend backpacking up north with my friend Justin. I got up early on Saturday and drove to Justin's house. I picked up him, his dog, and his gear, and we were on the road. Roughly three hours later, we were at the Red River Bridge at the top of Tippy Dam Pond.   Once at the trail head, we geared up and headed to the trail. From the trail head, you can immediately take the North Country Trail on the North side of the river, or you can trek about a half mile down the road to the South side of the river and pick up the Manistee river trail. That was our route for the weekend.  We hiked down the road, over the bridge, and up a hill to where we pick up the trail. 

In terms of trails that I have hiked in the lower peninsula, the Manistee River Trail is probably the most scenic. The trail meanders along the Manistee River, giving great views from tall bluffs above the river.

Here are a few off the views from the trail.

Our goal was to make it to the Hodenpyl Dam, a very  doable distance in a day. But going down the trail, we began to realize that all the good camp sites were filling up fast. At first we thought we would make it to the dam and then back track to a prime camp site. But we decided that the chances of a good camp site being available by the time we made it back from the dam was slim to none. So we stopped hiking early for a sweet spot right next to the river and a babbling brook. Definitely worth it. We set up camp and went for a short swim. The water was cool and refreshing.

When we were done swimming, the sky started to darken and we were quickly caught in a rainstorm. Being that I hadn't seen any rain int he forecast, we had yet to put the rainfly on the tent. We quickly scrambled to get the rainfly and our gear covered. The rain only lasted a little bit, but the sky still looked menacing. Being that we were hoping to spend the night in our hammocks instead of the tent, we were keeping our fingers crossed. By the time it was dark, I decided not to risk it and retreated to the safety of the tent. Justin on the other hand made a go for it in his hammock. That however lasted only a short while, since the skies opened up with a crazy thunderstorm. I've only camped along this river twice, and both times have seen some wild weather. Though I typically sleep pretty well during thunderstorms and this time was no different. Justin described me as dead to the world.

When we got up, the forest was pretty damp. It didn't make much sense to sit around on damp logs, so we packed up and headed back to the truck. We made much better time on the way back, doing the same distance as the day before in about an hour less, which I consider somewhat impressive since I seriously jacked up my ankle on the previous day. We got back to the parking lot at the Red River Bridge. Justin wanted his pack off, so we shed our gear there and he ran to get the car which was still over a half mile down the road. He made the run in good time and before we knew it we were loaded up and on the road home. Justin would later find out that he had forgotten his camera. You can follow his recounting of that incident here. But he wouldn't come to that realization till long after we got home.

Before we had left, a friend of mine had told me about a place up in Shelby, MI that had these really good 1 pound burgers. Now after a backpacking trip, you are usually pretty hungry. So this was a necessary stop after our trip. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the name of the restaurant. But I knew it was in Shelby and I knew it had the word bear in the name. So after a little searching with the smart phone, we found that the restaurant was called the Brown Bear. Let me tell you, it was definitely worth the stop. The burgers were delicious.

After that, we made the rest of the trip home. Unpacked and took a short nap.

All in all, it was a good weekend, and a great trail. I would recommend checking it out if you are ever up in the Manistee National Forest.

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