Short, wide waterfall at Canyon Falls near Big Lake
If my hike was on schedule, today Amy and I would be hiking eastbound from Big Lake State Forest to the middle of a connecting road route. And Ed and Bruce would be driving home. Bruce did drive home, but Amy decided to strike out on her own for the day while Ed and I waited to hear about my car.

So, Buck was drying out my car in his shop. He thought it would be dried and cleaned and ready to go by the end of the day. The plan became that Ed would hang around today so he could drive me up to Buck’s when the car was ready. He’d then drive home in my car – to make sure it was O.K. – and I’d stay and hike, using his car.

But rather than pass the time hiking, Ed decided he wasn’t in the mood. Instead, he preferred to rearrange our gear at the motel. But I was too nervous to sit in the motel all day. So Ed dropped me back off at Canyon Falls and I began to hike westbound toward Big Lake. 

Heading to Big LakeMarsh dotted with trees under a blue sky with white, puffy clouds on the North Country Trail near Big Lake.

I’d mapped out a +14-mile (+22.5 km) route from Canyon Falls to a spot a few miles west of Big Lake State Forest. It was flat and I figured I could crank out those miles before Buck finished with my car. Canyon Falls was a very lovely spot filled with beautiful waterfalls, and the trail west from there was lovely. It was gently undulating, well-marked and easy to hike quickly. The miles melted away in a mist of beautiful landscapes.

As I neared Big Lake, the trail got a little more difficult (although NOTHING like McCormick Wilderness!). Mainly, the ferns had overtaken the trail and made for slower going. It was also hard to see the trail in many spots, as it was totally obscured by the ferns. Luckily, the sun had burned off the dew by now. Otherwise, I’d have been soaked from the waist down.

I made it to our pick-up point around 3:15. Ed grabbed me, and we texted Buck to see what was up with the car. Good news: we could get it soon!

Blue lake showing through hardwood trees on the North Country Trail near Big Lake.
Another Disaster

I showered at the motel, and then Ed and I headed out to get my car. We were both excited. He’d get to go home and back to work on schedule. And my car was fine and I’d get to continue my hike. Then we got to Buck’s.

After testing my car numerous times, with good results, his employee took it out one last time as we were driving to get it. Suddenly, it wasn’t working. The power steering locked. The heated seats turned on and wouldn’t turn off. He couldn’t get his diagnostics to plug in. Buck advised us to call in the insurance adjuster. He thinks the car will be totaled.

I’m devastated. I’m not a car person, but I loved this car. And I killed it. This is now my second hike cancelled this year. What lesson do I need to learn? I’m so sad.


MI NCT miles today: 14.2 (22.9 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 333.2 (536.2 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,096.4 (1,764.5 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,503.6 (5,638.5 km)

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©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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