Saturday, June 19, 2010

I *think* it's a vacation

I'm in St. Louis with a bunch of High Schoolers! Wish me luck - and follow our adventures (if you like) at!

Monday, June 07, 2010

it’s never too late…

Angela: … to go backpacking this coming Memorial Day weekend! We’ve kicked around ideas here and there, but I think we’re going to aim for a Porcupine Mountains trip in UP Michigan. I know some of you already have conflicts (boo!), but for those who don’t – golly it will be fun!
Tammy: Yes.
Javier: the division 3 (ultimate frisbee) championships are in Appleton this weekend. I plan to go see that instead of the division 1 tournament. That opens me up for backpacking.
Andy: I think you know I’m in.
Jamie: awesome… out of my church commitments, so would be down. I would love to go – the porkies are awesome!
Patrick: enjoy the trip! and make sure you see some amazing rainbows (and avoid the stable flies!)
Ray: I’m pretty sure Becky and I are out, but our gear is up for grabs if anyone (even Jason) wants to borrow it.
Katie: As much as backpacking has always been my absolute favorite - I think at 37 weeks pregnant, the doc might frown on it :)
Javier: doctors don't know everything. We'll just bring a blanket we don't mind ruining. It'll be fine.
Angela: I'm pretty sure Becky AND Katie should go... like Javier said, we can always bring an old blanket. :)
Becky: Lol!  I think Katie and I would both also require a real mattress and at least 2-3 full sized pillows each.  I think we would need to bring a couple of pack mules on this trip! :)
Katie: Oh Becky, just wait... I'm up to 4 pillows now!! Two behind me (so I can sleep propped up), my body pillow, and one for my swollen feet!! :)
And the fact that it takes me half an hour to walk around the block - baby coming is probably the least of our worries!
Angela: Got that, Javier?
2 mules, 6 pillows, 2 mattresses, and a route that allows "flexibility" in terms of distance traveled per day.
Katie: Don't forget scheduled potty breaks every 30 minutes! :)
Am I forgetting anything Becky?
Javier: Good news. So far, these all seem like reasonable requests.  I think we can make a deal.
clip_image002Friday: since Andy and Tammy were both able to leave early on Friday, we dubbed them “Team Shady” and sent them on ahead to secure a camp site. They were able to do so without a hitch, and set up the girls’ tent at a nice, bug-free site to kick off the weekend. Team “YesIAmAwesome” (Javier, Jamie & Angela) left later on Friday and after a few near misses (almost left food the flatbread and the salmon quinoa in the freezer – eep!) arrived at Lake of the Clouds in the dark. Before heading to the camp site we took time to enjoy the view; in the moonlight you could see the water and trees and just be happy to be in the north woods.
IMG_0776 Saturday morning we skipped breakfast to get a halfway decent start on the trail. This would have stood us in good stead had we not found new and exciting off-trail ways to reach our destination. We were never lost, precisely, though the trail definitely was for quite a while. The picture is of a log “bridge” we crossed – the point where we THINK we parted ways with the trail!
It was on this part of the excursion that Jamie found a leg bone of some animal and thought it a humerus situation. Things started being less humorous toward the end of the day when we were getting tired, running low on water, and finding every potential site already taken. When we finally did find a site a mile from our original destination, Andy ripped off his shirt and did a happy dance. Unfortunately Tammy was the only one there to witness it, so we can only take her word for the awesomeness. The rest of us probably would have done happy dances too, but we were too tired to do much but focus on food and camp setup.IMG_0786
Javier still managed to plunge into Lake Superior. It was cold! So the rest of us didn’t get much more than our toes in. Jamie and I had found some leeks growing along the path, so it was fun to fry those up and try ‘em out. We ended up out on the Lake Superior shore, cooking dinner and watching the sunset, and just enjoying the waves and the beauty.
IMG_0796Sunday morning we got a bit of a slow start (but at least no skipping breakfast!!). Once we were on the trail we were able to make great time. Even with stops for wildflower identification and pauses for beautiful rocks on the shore, we made it to our next camp site by late afternoon. We ended up at the same site that the group had camped at five years earlier – where we first encountered the notorious stable flies! Thankfully not a single one showed up for our entire time on the shore. It’s a lovely site and it was great to have leisurely camp setup. I found time to hop into the water and get my Lake Superior fix for the weekend, Javier, Andy and Jamie got a lovely fire blazing, Andy and Tammy worked on getting us all drinkable water, and we all just enjoyed being comfortable on these stone slab chairs that had been set up at the site.
We had heard that it might rain, so we decided to set up the tents before cooking dinner. Good thinking, that! All five of us ended up crammed in the girls’ tent, devouring Andy’s family’s beef burgundy recipe (amazing!), and listening to the rain pound the tent walls. The rain cleared up right before sunset, though, so we were able to emerge and hit the beach just in time to watch the sun sink beneath the waves.
We headed back to the tent for some card playing and an ad hoc game of “Would you Rather” (“Would you rather be the most beautiful person in the world, or have gills?”) before calling it a night.
After the boys left, it is my sad duty to report that a small, innocent spider caused a ridiculous amount of furor (might have been less had the thing had the decency to die once it had been squished!) in the girls’ tent before its body was callously dropped outside the tent.
IMG_0775-1It ended up raining pretty hard for much of the night, but both tents stayed warm and dry enough to ensure no crabbiness that a warm cup of coffee the next morning couldn’t cure. Blueberry pancakes didn’t hurt either!  The lake was gorgeous after the rain, and only reluctantly did we find ourselves back on the trail walking away from it all. After a stop at Henry’s Never Inn for an authentic Yooper lunch of burgers, fish & pasties, the two teams made a successful run back to the Fox Valley.

Things Lost

I’m guessing we generally lose a thing or two on any trip, but on this one for some reason we really racked ‘em up. If you run across any of our long-lost things – well, you know where to find us!
  • Saturday we lost the trail for 2-3 hours. We stuck close to the Big Carp River, but the trail went far afield before returning to the river, and to us. Devious!
  • Saturday night, Jamie lost her head lamp. We looked all over the tent, only to have her find it the next morning. It was under her sleeping pad. Of course!
  • Sunday morning our nearly empty camp garbage bag disappeared. It had been in the bear bag the night before, but we looked through everything and never found it. Strange!
  • Javier lost two new shiny carabiners at that same site – maybe a crow found the site while we were down by the Lake? Odd!
  • Sunday night Tammy (who has the same headlamp as Jamie, and presumably didn’t want to be outdone) lost her headlamp. It too was found later, but the pattern raised some questions. Suspicious!
  • Monday night, Jamie, Javier and I set up the tents at Javier's place so they could be hosed off and dried thoroughly. By the next morning, the tent stuff sack had completely disappeared and has yet to resurface. Dang!

Things Found

OK, so we FOUND a bunch of things too! Michigan really put on a wildflower show for us. In spite of counting ounces on most things I lug along on the trail, this is the second trip for which I brought a flower identification book – and was so glad I did! Here are the most exciting finds (and notice, please, that they are listed at the end and so can be skipped by the uninterested!):
103_7273 103_7274 Swamp Buttercup (which I had mistakenly been calling a Marsh Marigold! Good catch, Jamie!)
 103_7275 IMG_0710-1 IMG_0713-1 Canada Anemone – This is one I was really excited to see as I hadn’t identified one before!
103_7278 Canada Mayflower/Wild Lily-of-the-Valley

These were everywhere: tiny, delicate, beautiful.
103_7280 IMG_0792-1 Everlasting pea? Or some other kind of pea? We weren’t sure, but saw quite a few of these – and assuming the purple and white are just variations of the same plant??
IMG_0784-1 Columbine – and a bunch of swamp buttercups. We saw lots of columbine our hike out.
103_7288 Starflower! These were everywhere, and beautiful, and I love this picture Jamie got of this one
103_7290 103_7289 False Soloman’s Seal – ok, all this “false” nonsense kinda throws me – it’s still beautiful and exciting to find and identify! :)
IMG_0684IMG_0680  Thimbleberry – These were big and everywhere. We stumbled across the fruit on our last day at Lake Superior Provincial Park and gorged on the fruit – so it was fun to identify the flowers!
IMG_0788-1 Orange Hawkweed
IMG_0790-1 Pussytoes! This was one I found in the book, thought odd, but then recognized when we passed some on the trail heading out – crazy!
Also found – lots of bluebead lilies, wild strawberries, bunchberries, daisies & Canada hawkweed! Hooray!