This morning I drove to St. Ignace, where I ended the first step in my section-hike of the North Country Trail back in 2017. At the time, I stopped at the outskirts of town instead of hiking the last 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to the bridge. It was late, Ed was injured and hungry, and it seemed like the right decision. So today, I knocked off those last few miles.
First, though, I received a shuttle from Lucy Evashevsky, one of the most wonderful trail angels! She not only shuttled me, but she gave me a gift bag filled with lots of treats: apples, yogurt, chocolate-covered nuts, homemade croutons and more. Wow! One of the best parts of hiking is all of the wonderful people you meet along the way.
It was cool and windy when I hiked through town. I wish I’d had time to read more of the historical markers and maybe even stop in at some of the little museums, but I had set an aggressive agenda in getting to Wilderness State Park, which was 13 miles (20.9 km) from Mackinaw City, across the bridge. So I scooted through town, then zipped across the bridge.
Good-bye, St. Ignace
I knew St. Ignace was touristy, and I should have expected Mackinaw City to be the same, as both have ferries going to and from popular Mackinac Island. But I wasn’t expecting that, and was surprised to drive through a huge commercial area that was packed. I had to wind through that to get to the parking area for the NCT, where I dropped my car for the next three days.
It was 2 p.m. when I finally got started. How long would it take me to reach the park?! Luckily, the trail here was mostly flat or gently rolling terrain. It began as a blacktopped bike path, then segued into a gravel path, then got onto singletrack trail. I slipped on a boardwalk almost immediately; no clue how, but I got full of mud. Rats.
Homing in on Wilderness State Park
Once the trail got out of the initial boggy area, it was largely dry and wonderful. It seemed to take miles rolling past French Farm Lake, but the scenery was pretty. I passed a lot of really huge, lovely campsites there.
Eventually the trail rolled into the back end of Wilderness State Park. It remained much the same: gently rolling paths winding through hardwood and pine forests.
I got to the park around 6:45 and came upon my spot in the campground almost immediately. Technically, I think I’m supposed to check in at the office. But it was a fair distance from the campsite, according to others, and down a hill (which I’d then have to reclimb). So I set up my tent, showered (!) and ate. I have my reservation receipt on me if someone asks to see it. Or I can run it down tomorrow.
It began to drizzle as I was setting up my tent, but thank goodness it stopped right away. No rain is forecast for the rest of my hike, and I intend to keep it that way!
MI NCT miles today: 17.1 (27.5 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 532.2 (856.5 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,299.6 (2,091.5 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,300.4 (5,311.5 km)