Today’s itinerary called for 21.5 miles (34.6 km) from the bike path in Petoskey where I’d met Shari yesterday to the Cherry Valley Overlook, which I hoped would make a cool campsite. Peter Fitzsimons, a colleague who reps Petoskey area tourism, was going to meet me at Boyne Mountain Lodge at 9 a.m. for a shuttle back to my starting point. I arrived late, due to a faulty GPS time estimate and construction. So I didn’t get on the trail until 10 a.m., which is late for a 21.5-mile (34.6 km) day. But what can you do but hike on?
The first 7 or 8 miles (11-13 km) wound through Petoskey, mostly on the Little Traverse Wheelway, a great bike path. This was easy walking and pleasant. Petoskey, I should add, is on the shores of Lake Michigan, so I often had great views of the water. I loved the stretch through Bay View, a century-old former Christian “camp” filled with cool, old Victorian homes. They were in very good condition, I might add!
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Shortly after Bay View, the trail ran along the Bear River in some woodsy stretches, then eventually popped me out onto a city street. I had to cross the road and then ascend a steep, rocky hill to reach Northern Central Michigan University, followed by a pleasant hike through trails on their grounds.
It was here, winding through trails behind the university, that I said hello to three female hikers … and realized one was Lucy, my trail angel from St. Ignace! We had a great time chatting and sharing trail intel.
After leaving the university grounds, I had an unpleasant road walk that featured a lot of uphills in the hot sun and one nasty rocky-sandy uphill road. On a positive note, when I got off of that I ran into three more hikers, whom I’d met last night in the campground. They were almost finished and gave me a bunch of water. I’d just started running low, and according to my map there weren’t many water sources up ahead.
Last Half of the Day
Once back on the trail, it was pretty lovely. There were some large uphills, but fortunately a lot of switchbacks, which helps. But a lot of the trail was gently rolling. I was getting nervous about water, since all of the possibilities on my map turned out to be dry or murky. But finally, just a few miles shy of my destination, I found a burbling creek. It took forever to fill my bottle, as it was very shallow, but that’s O.K.
I reached the turn-off to the Cherry Valley Overlook and hoped for the best. It was almost a half-mile (1 km) detour. The overlook is pretty, although nothing as dramatic as others I’ve seen on the NCT. The overlook area isn’t that flat, and it’s full of grasses and weeds, so I had to pull a bunch out to make a decent spot for my tent. But again, that’s fine.
As I was setting up camp, a trail runner came up the path and scared me! Thank goodness I was unpacking and not washing up! We chatted a bit, and then I finished setting up camp, washed up and made dinner. And now it’s time for bed.
I have another long day tomorrow. I hope to get an earlier start, since I’ll be staying overnight at Boyne Mountain Lodge. And I want as much time in the hotel as I can get!
MI NCT miles today: 21.5 (34.6 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 591.7 (952.3 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,359.2 (2,187.4 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,240.8 (5,215.6 km)
Book your stay at Boyne Mountain Lodge here. It’s a great spot!