Reflecting back, I have not backpacked since the July 4th weekend of 2012-something I need to change. The last trip was less than a year following an incredible loss in my life, and as a result, things turned out badly. I researched out Grand Island, a place that had previously been discussed for a distination. The island is in Lake Superior, a short ferry ride from Munising, about four hours from home. As with most of my solo trips here, due to work, it was to be a two day hike around the perimeter of the 13.500 acre island (which is under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service). The ferry staff were a bit late arriving, but Benny and I still hit shore in the early morning, having arrived in Munising before daylight from Ironwood. It was a summer of fair temperatures, and unlike the last few years, sparing of excessive insect hatches. Unless one is a complete masochist, it is sage advice to avoid long periods of backcountry travel in the UP until the close of the bug season, often by the end of June. The trip was marked by lingering sadness and getting lost in thoughts, with the result that in a mindless way, we missed a turn and ended up hiking 21 miles, from daylight to dark, enduring dehydration and the next day, some honker blisters. When we ran out of water, not intending to go that far, the 100 foot cliffs on the back side of the island prevented us from reaching the big lake. New empathy for my oldest daughter, the marathon runner.
This Labor Day weekend, weather permitting (or even not), Benny and I will backpack a familiar and very challenging section of the North Country Trail, between the fabled and beautiful Norwich Bluffs and Old Victoria, for a 24 mile trip (12 out and back). I have done this trip once alone, and the complete stretch from Old Victoria to Norwich Bluffs with my son a number of years back. Fell on a rock slide on that trip and had my first experiece with two broken ribs. This stretch has been written up in Backpacker Magazine for its remoteness and sheer beauty. Benny is a good trail dog. When the blue blaze marks dissapear, he has been invaluable in finding the trail again. Starting to pull out the gear tonight and think of meal plans and what we need to get. I pack ultralight and will likely carry less than 27 lbs. for swift walking and climbing sans fatigue.