I was excited to start the day at Tahquamenon Lower Falls. Because, well, waterfalls are always cool! But oh, brother! Our errors and mishaps continue. So today we had roughly 20 miles (32.2 km) to hike from Tahquamenon State Park’s lower falls to Culhane Lake, where we started yesterday.
We got to the state park and I immediately noticed the maps in their kiosks were different – one was right-side up (with north at the top) and one was upside-down (with south at the top). But I didn’t take the time to check which one was properly placed because I was so anxious to get going. So, yep, we started hiking east from the park instead of west.
Ed and I noticed this error after two hours of hiking, when we took a snack break and checked our location against the map. Crap! We’d gone about six miles (9.7 km) in the wrong direction. Fortunately, there was an access road nearby that led to Highway 123, which is the main road leading past Tahquamenon State Park.
Hitching Back to Tahquamenon Falls
We had to hike three miles (4.8 km) up to Highway 123. I prayed that we’d find a kind soul who would not only stop for us, but take us right to the spot where my car was parked in Tahquamenon State Park (it was .6 miles [1 km] from Hwy. 123 down a park road to my car).
Sure enough, an unofficial trail angel appeared who drove us there. She wouldn’t take money for her kindness, but simply asked that we pay it forward. WE WILL!
So now it was noon. We had hiked nine miles (14.5 km) in total the wrong way. And our planned day’s mileage was 21 (33.8 km). It’s not great to be starting a hike of roughly 21 miles (33.8 km) at noon! Naturally, we ran into trouble right away. First, there was a .9-mile (1.5 km) detour on the route. Just what we needed – to hike even more miles! Then, the section that led to the Tahquamenon Upper Falls was extremely technical. Our normal three-mile-per-hour (4.8 kph) pace was much slower.
Somewhere in there, it started to rain.
Hiking in the Rain
We hiked about six miles (9.7 km) in the rain, plus faced lots of mud, flooded paths and muck. We couldn’t move quickly.
I have to add that cell service up here is poor. We couldn’t get WiFi and a weather update in two days. The last we’d been able to see, today was supposed to be nice. WRONG.
It rained a lot. I didn’t have my rain pants in my backpack, either. By the time we hit a gravel road – yay! – it was after 5 p.m. and we still had 12 miles (19.3 km) left to hike. More ominously, we were soaked and the temperature was dropping. If we eschewed the trails and hiked the roads to our car, it would still take us until 8 or 9 p.m. I was a little worried about hypothermia.
Another Unofficial Trail Angel
As we were adding layers and eating a snack, a truck drove up and the driver asked us if we needed help. We swallowed our pride and said yes, our car was 12 miles (19.3 km) up the road. And we’d take a ride as many or few miles up the road as he was willing to go.
Again, a trail angel! The man was intending to go halfway up this road, then cut over on another. But he took us all the way to our car. We had to sit in the truck bed, as there wasn’t room in the cab. But that was fine, and actually exciting. We tried to pay him for his efforts, but again, he said to just pay it forward.
By the time we got to our car, I knew we’d made a very wise decision. The temperature had dropped even more, and the minute we got inside our car it began to pour. But again, all good!
Snowshoe and Ed
MI NCT miles today: 21.6 (34.8 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 89.9 (143.1 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 89.9 (143.1 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 4,510.1 (7,258.3 km)
Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links (among regular links) to products I own and like, or which I think you might like. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.