Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Lakeshore Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
This Memorial Day Weekend I am going to join several others and we will spend 4 days hiking the Lakeshore Trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This is a trail that runs along the beaches and cliffs of Lake Superior between Grand Marais and Munising, Michigan. It's about 43.2 miles long and for the most part it is pretty much level. But what it lacks in elevation changes it makes up for with scenery around Lake Superior and inland lakes. It also can more than make up for any walking challenges by throwing unexpectedly nasty weather at you and voracious bugs. It has been a decade since I have been to this particular national park and I am very much looking forward to this trip. The trip has been organized by Andy Mytys who has been visiting PIRO for years. In fact, this trip is something of an annual event for him. For the last several years it has been a mainstay hike for the Western Michigan North Country Trail Chapter which, like Andy, I am a member of. For all sorts of reasons I've not been able to attend this trip in the past but that will change this weekend. It will all start out with our Ann Arbor contingent (me, Andy, Elwira, and John) meeting up at a carpool lot around 7:00PM for the 6+ hour drive to join the western lower peninsula (mostly from around Grand Rapids) contingent of folks at a campground at Seeney Township Park, Seeney, Michigan. This is almost something of a tradition with us - getting to our first campground during the very small hours of the morning before the bulk of the trip is to really begin. We'll get a little bit of sleep before catching an early breakfast in Munising (Sydney's for those that care) and then catch the shuttle to Grand Marais and then hike the Lakeshore trail back towards Sand Point in Munising. While the trail itself is easy to follow and the footing is excellent that doesn't mean the trip won't be a cakewalk. Right now the weather forecast looks pretty wonderful with highs in the mid-to-upper 50s (mid teens Celsius) and lows in the lower 40s (~5°C). But there is a frost advisory right now and it is certainly possible for the temperatures to dip below freezing or rise well into 80s. Storms off Lake Superior are also not to be sneezed at so good rain gear and a decent shelter are valuable. Having said that personally I think we will all more likely be bothered by the bug population. It has been a cool and wet spring which is pretty good breeding for the critters. While we are walking or on the shoreline proper it ought not be much of a problem, but in camp things will likely be different. That's especially true at Trappers Lake which is a bit inland. Because the bug population could be annoying I've elected to use my aging, but still functional, Shires Tarptent Virga. I could have gone with my Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar and an Adventure 16 bug bivvy but I can set the Virga up much more quickly than the Trailstar and that is a good thing if the bugs are fierce. If, and this is a big if, I have a data connection to the internet during the trip I will hopefully post some photos and such along the way. But don't count on it. Again, if I have an internet connection you'll be able to follow our progress both here on the interactive map below and via the Social Hiking website. You can learn more about the trip itself from a very complete description here. My trip to PIRO in 2000 is documented here.