Vince Smith Memorial Bridge on North Country Trail near Timber Creek.
Today’s trek from the Freesoil Trailhead to Timber Creek was great. But first, a recap of last night.

Ed and I camped at the Bear Track (rustic) campground, which was just a few minutes away from Freesoil. We didn’t see much of it at all, as Ed grabbed the first campsite (#1) and we never ventured beyond it. We saw one camper nearby and heard no one. Those tan moths were everywhere – ugh. Even though they don’t go for your face like other bugs, they’re just omnipresent.

Striking Out for Timber Creek

Ed decided he wanted to end today with both cars at Timber Creek. So we both drove down there and dropped my car. Then Ed drove me to Freesoil to start hiking southbound, while he went back"NCT" carved into tree stump fashioned into a small chair. to Timber Creek a second time and began hiking north to meet me.

The first half of the day, before I met Ed, was very easy. The trail was soft, relatively flat and featured a short road walk near Loon Lake. I listened to an interesting Fresh Air podcast with the famous pitcher C.C. Sabathia.

Finding Ed

Ed and I met around 1:30, promptly stopping to have lunch on a boardwalk/bridge. And then we continued southbound. This portion of the trail got hillier, but again, it was nothing bad. We easily averaged 3 miles per hour (5 kph) all day and finished our hike well before 5 p.m.

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Trail winding through sparse woods.
Once we got to TImber Creek, we decided to do a reconnaissance mission for my camping spot tomorrow night. It’s hard to tell from maps where good camping can be, and there were two trailheads close to one another: Sterling Marsh and 76th Street. So en route to our digs at the Holiday Inn in Big Rapids, we checked out both.

The Sterling Marsh trailhead was spacious, but a sign said no camping. Ed and I hiked in a little ways in both directions, but there were no spots to pitch a tent. The access road to Sterling Marsh is also not the greatest.

The 76th Street trailhead is off busy 76th Street, a street in Baldwin, Mich. The trail here is also bad for camping, but there is no sign saying you can’t camp at the trailhead. That’s never an ideal situation, but I figured I’d go with it.

In Big Rapids

We’d hoped to do laundry, grab some supplies, reorganize and have a nice dinner here. Ha! Ed drove all over looking for quarters; apparently, there’s a quarter shortage going on. Who knew?! There were various issues trying to order meals with restaurants (online and by phone), so we ended up eating salads from Walmart in our hotel room. Got to bed really late. So much for an early day!


MI NCT miles today: 19 (30.6 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 813.1 (1,308.6 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,562.1 (2,514 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,037.9 (4,889 km)

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