Because we lost our shuttle at the last minute, we realized it would be most efficient to keep hiking westbound. Sort of backwards. We’d drop one car at the western end of our hike, then drive to the eastern end and hike back to the one car. Then drive forward and on to our next lodging.
Today we drove to Muskellonge Lake, ready to hike west back to the spot just east of Grand Marais where we began on Friday. We had heard from 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 erodes completely. The long-term plan is to move the trail about 100 feet (or yards?) 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/eroded away in spots. We started off from the Muskellonge Lake State Park in high spirits. 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 3 miles, or an hour’s hiking. In the midst of this, I must add, it started to rain.
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.
But 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 Cheese Ed
MI NCT miles today: 20.1
MI NCT miles to date: 49.2
Total NCT miles to date: 49.2
Total NCT miles to go: 4,550.8