NCT Mile 161.5 to 167.5

Rain ping pinging off the metal roof woke us up this morning around 0700.  It was raining and we didn’t have to care about making coffee in the rain or putting a wet tent away.  A super way to start any rainy trail day.  We knew it was going to be a two coffee kind of day before the first coffee had even been made.

We got out the door and on the trail around 1100.  Plan for the day was to wing it with a side of probably not do too many miles.  From the Oren Krumm shelter, there are only 16 miles left until our finish line at Canyon Falls; Big Lake State Campground is just a 6 mile hike away.  If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d say that we will be staying there if any of the twelve campsites are open.

Instead of talking about how frustrating today’s trail was in all of it’s pointless looping and how we took a couple wrong turns that added onto our day, I’m just going to skip to the part where we arrived at the campground.  

The lack of people at this lovely State of Michigan Campground was quite shocking to us.  Everything up north has been booked and booming.  Many of the locals we have talked with mention that this time of year is usually busy but COVID has made it even more busy and it’s been this way most of the summer.  It’s  anecdotal, I know, but everywhere except the NCT has been booked up from we have seen as well.  Getting away into th wilderness areas is one thing, long distance hiking is an entirely different level of crazy.

We weren’t at the campground for but five minutes before a gentleman from the only camper at the grounds drove up and greeted us.  Terry Lee was his name, he and his wife are camping with friends tomorrow and came a day early.  We told him what we were up to and before long he was offering us cooked sweet corn.  We love sweet corn – yes, please!  Terry also brought us home grown potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and a pot of bean soup.  

Side story about the green beans.  Terry also had his twelve year old Shih Tzu, Yorkie mix dog with him, Susie.  She was the most adorable thing, but let me tell you, don’t take your eyes off her.  I was munching on fresh green beans and she popped up and stole a bite right from my hand.  Looks like an Athena, acts like a Duke!  Well played, Susie, well played.

All of the fresh foods were delicious.  Brianna cut and cooked the potatoes to mix with our chicken and gravy dinner.  I’m actually writing by a fire that is only possible because Terry brought us some wood.  Did I mention he showed us their camper and handed Brianna & I each a Busch Light?  Many thanks to Terry, his wife whose name I didn’t catch, and yes, even Susie.  

It’s easy to imagine all of the evil people in the world when there is so much bad being broadcast about, but sometimes it goes the other way too.  If you don’t put anything out there, you’ll most certainly not get anything back.  Long distance hiking has on multiple occasions shown us that people want to do good things for people they don’t know.  Maybe it’s easy to do good for hikers because our story is so in your face.  We are carrying everything we have, we have nothing else.

All of Brianna and I’s run-ins with people on the trail have been especially cool because we are not outgoing people, everyone has approached us.  We aren’t introverts because we choose to be, but maybe the long distance hiking will help us be extroverts when we want to be.  The world is a big place with plenty of room for us to become bigger people.

Tonight we sleep by the lake.  A quiet little spot by the fire to spend our last night.  10 miles left tomorrow and then we get to see Shelly and Paul!