Sturgeon River lined with trees turning fall colors on the North Country Trail near Laird Road.

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Today’s itinerary changed in the last few day and I ended up deciding to hike from Laird Road to my car at Plains Road. Previously, I’d planned to camp at the Oren Krumm shelter, a few miles before the Plains Road trailhead. But I decided to forge ahead so I could drive into Ishpeming and do laundry, then camp around tomorrow’s starting point at McCormick Wilderness. So that was the plan.

I got up around 7 a.m., when there was some light, and was on the trail by 8:30. Pretty good! But the first few miles gave me pause for concern. The trail between the two Laird Road trailheads was really overgrown in parts, and then the trail and all markings disappeared. I had to bushwhack to the road. Luckily, it wasn’t far.

Then, the map showed two fords (a creek and then a river). I don’t mind fording water – in fact, I kind of enjoy it – but I prefer to do it midday or the end of the day, not the start. Fortunately, both the creek and river were barely there, and I could easily get across on rocks and downed logs. 

Leaving Laird RoadFire-ravaged area on the North Country Trail.

Once I hit the Sturgeon River, things became amazing. The river was pretty, and the trail began dipping through scenic forests filled with yellowing ferns. At one point I’m sure I hiked up and down two huge glacial eskers.

The trail then wound through some areas devastated by a forest fire. I think the fire may have been years ago, because there was a lot of new growth. Think prairie type grasses, new trees and some kind of cushy-yet-tough moss. Everything was changing colors and it was breathtaking, despite the prior loss.

Finding the Oren Krumm Shelter

I reached the Oren Krumm shelter at 3:30 and was glad of my new plans. That’s too early to stop! But I’d made good time because the trail today was largely gentle ups and downs. The shelter is named after a man who tragically died young due to a rare disease. His parents built it in his honor, since he loved the outdoors. The shelter was much like the one at Old Victoria, and would have made a nice pit stop.

Shallow series of waterfalls lined by trees changing colors.After that came Tibbets Falls. Wow, was that cool! It wasn’t just one waterfall, but this incredible series of small falls that stretched on and on. Check it out if you can.

Into Town I Go

I got to the car at 4:30, then took 45 minutes cleaning up (my person) and shuffling things around in the car. After that, it was a 45-minute drive to Ishpeming and the laundromat. While my clothes cleaned I did some grocery shopping. Then, at 8 p.m., I reached the McCormick WIlderness trailhead. I wanted to camp a little in on the trail, but in both directions there was nothing suitable. Not even remotely possible. So while I know this isn’t proper, I pitched my tent next to my car at the trailhead.

Tonight it’s supposed to get down to possibly as low as 21 F. (-6.1 C.). I’m not sure why I’m so nervous about this, as I camped in temps pretty close to that on the Arizona Trail. And I have a great sleeping quilt. Wish me luck!


MI NCT miles today: 17.6 (28.3 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 497.4 (800.5 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,264.8 (2,035.5 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,335.2 (5,367.5 km)

Need a quality sleeping quilt for your next backpacking adventure? Here’s one I recommend.

I also pack Tide laundry packets for my trips into town to do laundry. You can grab some here.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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