Thursday, November 7, 2013

#32: NCT Overnight: Prairieville to Middle, November 2013

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Over the last few years I've joined John Lawton and Andy Mytys and we've hiked portioned of the North Country Tail, the NCT, in Michigan. The NCT in Michigan runs for about 1,100 miles using paved roads, dirts roads, rails to trails, two-tracks, and actual hiking trails. For this hike, the first weekend of November, we didn't have anyone to help us so we had to use 2 cars. This meant setting up a car shuttle and hiking leapfrog style between the cars. Doing this we were able to hike the 28-29 miles from just south of Prairieville to Middleville. We weren't quite sure why type of weather we would get. It seemed that we might actually have to cancel the hike due to severe storms but the weather report moderated to showers with highs in the mid-upper 40s and a low around freezing. For a variety of reasons I did not do much recording during the hike though I do have several thoughts I want to share.

More photos can be found in the Flickr Photo Album here. or if you prefer the Google photo album here.Captions associated with the photos in this podcast

Ken near Prairieville Municipal Park
It is a crisp overcast autumn morning at the Prairieville Municipal Park. The temperature is probably in the low 40s with little wind to bother us. The threat of rain, we think, is past. It promises to be a fine day for hiking even with the first several miles being a road walk (two line paned and dirt roads).

Photo by Andy Mytys
Prairieville Township Parker Road Park
At the start of our overnight hiking trip along the North Country Trail. The road walk will cover probably close on 8 miles of paved and dirt roads. They're fairly quiet roads with farms and other homes on each side. But what I think we noticed most at first were the large numbers of sandhill cranes that flew on by during the morning.

Photo by Andy Mytys
Deep Lake
Deep Lake not long after sunrise. The campground is rather large with campsites that are big in their own right. The night until around 04:45 or so was actually quite warm. But then the temperature plunged to about 30°F. Before then it stayed fairly warm in the low 40s even when a bit of rain came through around 03:00.
Hall Lake
The clouds let the sunlight break through now and then providing us with brilliant splashes of fall color (OK, maybe I pumped it just a tad). Andy stands on the shore of Hall Lake not far from our car and the end of the first day of hiking. We set up camp at Deep Lake Campground.
Sugar_Maple
Fall in Michigan's Lower Peninsula can be very pleasant.

Photo by Andy Mytys
Forest and Fields
Now and then we would pass a grassy area like this. I'm not sure how many were working farm fields and how many just natural glades though I suspect more were the former than the latter. When in the State Game or Recreation Areas we were in rolling forests dotted with lakes.
Hot_Cocoa
The Prairieville Family Inn, I believe that's the right name, is a great place to have dinner. I expect breakfast and lunch are just as good. The food, especially the pie, is more than enough to make a tired hiker happy. Just look at the hot chocolate Andy is having. Another nice feature of stopping at a place like this is meeting those people who work there. They first thought we were hunters scouting for the upcoming rifle deer season but when they learned we were hikers they shared stories of meeting Strider (Luke Jordan) who had stopped here on in thru-hike of the NCT (now completed). They learned a lot from him including the fact that the NCT exists (never having known what those blue blazes were until Luke explained).

Photo by Andy Mytys
Thornapple_Flooding
The last 3 miles and change of the hike into Middleville are along a Rails to Trails paved path that arrows through this flooding. It is the Thornapple Trail and their are some "rules" associated with it that are obeyed only kind of sort of.

Photo by Andy Mytys

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