Today’s hike: Muskellonge Lake back to the east side of Grand Marais. Not to talk too much about our shuttle strategy, but I’d wanted to hike eastbound every day because, well, we are heading eastbound! And I like to do things in proper sequence. That is, starting every day at the point in the trail where I left off the previous day. But to do that, we’d have to shuttle our cars twice each day – drop one car at the day’s ending point, drive back to the start, hike, reach the dropped car, then drive back to pick up the car at our starting point. Then repeat daily.
Ed wisely realized it would be more efficient to leapfrog our cars eastbound, then hike westbound. That way, we’d only be shuttling one car every day. So we’d drop car #1 at the western end of our day’s hike, drive to the eastern end and drop car #2, then hike back to car #1. We’d leave car #2 overnight at the eastern end because the following day, we’d drive even farther east in car #1 and hike back to car #2. So that’s the new plan.
Starting Out from Muskellonge Lake
When we departed from Muskellonge Lake today, it was cloudy. We had heard from NCT trail folks that there has been a lot of erosion along the lakeshore bluffs. This is where the trail often runs, and thus the path disappears in spots wherever a chunk of the bluff falls down into the lake. The long-term plan is to move the trail about 100 feet (30.5 m) in from the bluffs, but for now there are rudimentary detours.
The spot where we were hiking today wasn’t yet cleaned up for the season, so we were warned the path might be lost or eroded in spots. But we weren’t deterred. We were in high spirits. Because we were going to do this! Well … ha!
We did follow the path very well for the most part, but there was one spot where the trail was eroded away and there happened to be a path back to the road, which was what the map showed. To make a long story short, we headed to the road, walked back and forth a bit, then went back up into the woods and discovered we had to hike past/around the eroded spot a short distance to pick up the real path back to the road.
All of the back-and-forth cost us about three miles (4.8 km), or an hour’s hiking. In the midst of this, I must add, it started to rain. Then pour. After that, the mosquitoes came out. Argh!
We had another snafu a few hours later, in an area with logging activity. We haven’t had a chance to ask locals about this yet, but lots of the logged areas are marked in blue, with blue paint on the trees and blue ribbons hanging from some branches. This is extremely confusing, as you often can’t tell if this is NCT markings or logging. So we lost more time in one trail segment due to this.
On a positive note, my favorite part today was this cool stretch where you had to cross water onto some sandy fingers of land. It was beautiful. We also saw what appeared to be beachcombers. Later, locals said people love looking for agates here.
And despite the glitches, rain and mosquitoes today, all is good. Tonight we are staying in a man’s rental home, which is designed like a caboose. It’s quite charming.
Snowshoe and Ed
MI NCT miles today: 20.1 (32.4 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 49.2 (79.2 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 49.2 (79.2 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 4,550.8 (7,323.8 km)