Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Manistee National Forest area

This past weekend we travelled up to act as ultra-marathon support crew. Why anyone would volunteer to run 50+ miles is beyond my rational thought capacity. We were there to make sure they didn’t die on the trail or in the cabin after they finished the race (they did and it only took a little over 12 hours).

As they ran, my lady friend and yours truly decided to hit the local trails as were in the scenic bits of Michigan in and around the Manistee National Forest. I had never been to Michigan so I had no damn idea what the hiking was going to be like.

We covered ten miles of trails, ate a pretty good (albeit quasi-sketchy looking) mom and pop diner with great lemon and coconut cream pie, and explored the local color  between checking in the runners at the halfway point and collecting them at the end of the race.

The first item of interest was the ground. It was sandy. Like really sandy. I know we were close to Lake Michigan, but I had no idea the ground would be that soft and basically just dirty sand. It was wyrd.

A ton of moss and ferns covered the forest floor in these parks. Different than back home and a cool look.

Next was the utter lack of noise. The two trails we hiked were almost silent. The lack of animal noises and even chirpy birds was strange. Besides a few bits of banter we usually walk quiet in the hope of seeing some living breathing nature. It was strange to see and hear the absence of it. Sure there were a smattering of woodpeckers, a lone black squirrel, a trio of deer and a lone inch worm; we saw nothing ad hear even less. The lack of sound was really strange, but maybe that is common…..or the forest is haunted!

Here is that clearing that the adventuring party always seems to stumble upon. Thankfully, there were no goblins or ogres.

The next clearing there was an old deer stand/hunting shack.

Of  course I had to explore, pass a DEX check to get up the rotting ladder whose steps were breaking as I climbed.
Not much inside but old bunks, a propane heater, stove, misc tools and empty drinking flasks.
No loot for the party.
As an added bonus, I did come up with a couple D&D adventure ideas while in the woods.  Thank you nature for geeky tabletop inspiration!

We were the only humans on the two trails that day. Well during those times. It was awesome to pull up at a trailhead and see no other signs of human life on the trail you are going to hike. There is no worry of ambient other people noise. Not that I hate people or that all people hiking are loud, but it was just awesome to know we were free of other bits of humanity on the trails

Which path next? Well left to the road less traveled. The ferns were waist to mid chest high down this path.
Very cool!

The trails we did were decently maintained, well-marked and free of debris. I was surprised at the lack of incline and relative ease of the trails. Besides a random root that caused a minor foot blowout these were not difficult to navigate, felt remote and were scenic.

Fun fungus! 

If there was a down side it was the limited amount of time we had to explore the area. There were a ton of trailheads around the cabin we stayed in and many more within 20-30 minutes. We were told the trial that the marathons was ran on was descent too. I imagine we will head back up here sometime for a few days where we can explore more.

Manistee National Forest, check it out and Mel’s for good pie, a descent burger  and a surprisingly tasty Mexican.

Parting shot! Best/Worst street name ever!

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