NCT Mile 855.5 to 868.5

Slugs were slimming around the outside of the tent in every direction our blurry eyes could see this morning.  I’m not sure if slugs and pine trees go together, or if was the colder temperatures, but this was our first time encountering an army of shelless snails.  

The mornings where we are dispersed camping are always a bit more chaotic than when we are at established campgrounds.  There are no tables or flat surfaces.  There are no clean places to set gear while you organize the pack unless you get it all done while still in the tent. Do you pack out the tent and then make coffee or make the coffee before packing out the tent?  Life decisions on the trail, let me tell ya what.

Today was pretty much a dead on sprint to the finish line of Walkup Lake Campground.  Penny and Shauna were due to meet us there with a buffet of trail magic food; they did not disappoint.  Brianna has two basic speeds of hiking.  Her normal pace, which is pretty fast, or the lunch/dinner shuffle, which is even more fast.  With today being a buffet shuffle, you can imagine at what quick pace that might have been.

The most notable part of today’s trail were the wetlands.  Trails led through at least five miles of nothing but wetlands.  A quarter of that five miles was wooden walking bridges and stepping logs joined together by planks on the top.  Not an easy area to Brianna shuffle on.  Even at the higher speed, I do feel like we took the time to appreciate the uniquely valuable area it is.  A sign on both ends of the wetlands is quick to remind you that: “Over half of Michigan’s wetlands have been filled or drained since 1850.  I’m guessing that made a few people a bunch of money.  I wish this made me feel like the other 50% are safe.

Brianna has not made a single wrong turn the entire time we’ve been on the trail… until today.  Instead of going straight down the path, where it was clearly marked, she takes a left down a rather steep hill.  The map said we still had a half mile left before hitting a road and doing a road walk to the campgrounds.  Nowhere on the map did this side trail even exist, and yet, Brianna unknowingly takes a wrong turn the led directly to Shauna and Penny.  Mother Daughter bond or fat girl intuition?  I’ll let you be the judge.

Shauna and Penny were able to snag one of the two best camping spots on the grounds.  There were about ten other camping spots up the hill, only two by the lake.  The spots on the hill were fine but that’s also where all the people were.  There were kids, dogs, yelling parents and generators; we couldn’t hear any of that down by the lake.  And these federal campgrounds are only $10 a night.  How did we not know about all these before now?

The day and night were more than perfect.  Penny cooked us homemade goulash, we got Shauna’s special pasta salad, and everything else we could’ve imagined.  More things than I can remember to list.  I’ll just say that there was beer and cheesecake. Just when we thought we were full, my buddy Curt shows up with a White Cloud pizza and cheese bread.  We drank by the fire late into the evening before eventually retiring to our tents.

This was a very happy anniversary.