We got to the state park and I immediately noticed the maps in their kiosks were different — one was right-side up and one was upside-down. But I didn’t take the time to check which one was which because, well, I tend to be a bit hyper and anxious to get going. So we started hiking east from the park instead of west.
Ed and I noticed this after two hours of hiking (we take snack breaks every two hours), which was about six miles in. Fortunately, there was an access road nearby that led to Highway 123, which is the main road with access to various spots on Taquamenon State Park.
We hiked three miles 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 Taquamenon State Park (it was .6 miles from Hwy. 123 down a park road to my car).
Sure enough, a 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 the wrong way. We started off on our intended hike of roughly 21 miles. We ran into trouble right away, in that there was a .9-mile detour on the route. Then, the section that led to the Tequamenon Upper Falls was extremely technical. Our normal three-mile-per-hour pace was much slower.
Somewhere in here it started to rain.
We hiked about six miles 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. By the time we hit a road and had 12 miles left to hike, it was after 5 p.m. and 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 worried about hypothermia.
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 up the road. And we’d take a ride as many or few miles up the road as they were 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 and it started to pour. We already both felt hypothermic.
Snowshoe and Cheese Ed