Today was my last day of this three-week section hike; I’d be ending at Hall Lake. But first, Buck Hough! I awoke to a dewy morning, where my tent was so wet it began weeping onto me. Ugh. But as I got moving around, Buck showed up with a coffee cup in hand and welcomed me to breakfast.
Buck cooked me two made-to-order eggs (sunnyside-up), plus sausage links and buttered rye bread. And coffee with cream. Oh my goodness! I’d hoped my tent might somehow dry out while I ate breakfast, but Buck said it wouldn’t, and it didn’t. Trust Buck. He knows his stuff!
Heading Toward Hall Lake
I dropped my car at Hall Lake, the day’s ending point, then Buck shuttled me back to yesterday’s ending spot. With that, I was off.
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The first few miles wound through the woods and the bugs were minimal. Yes! Next up were some road miles, then a paved recreational path through Middleville, a cute town, and a few miles beyond. FYI: The trail through Middleville passes a bathroom, water fountain and giant, festively decorated Adirondack chair.
The first few miles on the paved path were wonderful: scenic and easy. And then, as the path left Middleville and wound along the Thornapple River and some marshland, the mosquitoes arrived. Oh. My. Goodness!
I’d put on some bug spray and a head net, but didn’t put on my bug pants. Big mistake! The mosquitoes were relentless. Soon I was race-walking along the path, wishing I could run. I had no idea how long this stretch was, and didn’t want to stop and check on my Avenza app because the second I stopped, the mosquitoes were soul-sucking.
At one point, I gave in and stopped so I could put on more bug spray. And then I prayed this section would be over soon. Eventually, the trail ended. Phew!
The Journey Continues
The rest of the day was wonderful. It was mostly trail, with a few short road walks. The mosquitoes and gnats were minimal. Buck had warned me of the Yankee Springs section, which is known for ticks. They’d been terrible this year, he said, but once the mosquitoes came out, they’d disappeared. Supposedly.
I donned my bug pants for that section, but had no problem with ticks, mosquitoes or gnats.
Tonight I’m staying at another great Holiday Inn Express, this one in Hastings, Mich. I like this chain because the rooms are generally clean and not too expensive. I’ve also noticed that the laundry facilities in Michigan HIEs are cheap: $1 each for washers and dryers.
Because I finished by 4, I’ve been washing my clothes and gear, and drying out my tent, so I won’t have to do so much when I get home.
And so ends another NCT section-hike! This one netted me 373.6 miles (601.3 km), for a total of 386.6 (622.2 km) so far in 2021. I also hit a new milestone: I now have less than 3,000 miles (4,828 km) to go!
NCT Miles Today: 18 (29 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 997.9 (1,606 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,746.9 (2,811.4 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 2,853.1 (4,591.6 km)
Book your stay at the Holiday Inn Express Hastings here!