Day 24 – IAT Mile 388.8 to 413.2

400 miles!

Jason picked us up from the hotel a little before 0700 and shuttled is north to where his dad picked us up yesterday.  The entire series of events is pretty random, but even more random is that Jason and his family are taking a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next week.  He had a lot of questions about the North Country Trail and popular sites that Brianna and I were very well equipped to answer!  Jason also has a friend hiking the Appalachian Trail this year, he said it was fun helping hikers close to home in honor of his friend.

Thank you, Jason & Ken!  We will pay your kindness forward 🙂

Brianna & I were able to start the trail by 0715.  Today was a real mixed bag of hiking.  The first 10 miles had a lot of tricky tree blow downs we had to navigate.  Every blow down is different, a riddle in its own right.  How do we get around a huge tree with bogs on each side?  How do we get over a huge tree with steep declines on each side?  I like riddles, but they were physically exhausting us.  I’m very thankful we did not have to navigate Harrison Hills after the storms.

The last 14 miles of our day were very easy.  Rough trail turned into hardened dirt paths through shaded forests with few blow downs.  We finished the day halfway through the Kettlebowl segment, an area we had read to be very challenging and easy to get lost in.  Overall, we found it to be very well marked with yellow blazes.  It had rolling hills that were easy to keep pace on and not steep at all.  I don’t know that we would recommend that segment to a friend, but it was not high on the difficult meter.

If I was to pick a most notable part of today’s hike, it would have to Bakers Lake.  Bakers Lake is the last place to fill up on water for 17 miles.  There is no water in the Kettlebowl, you have to hike all the way over to a Park in Polar Township before another opportunity arises.  Brianna & I knew we would be dry camping, so we filled up with 3 liters of water each, had dinner at the lake, really took our time before making the day’s final push.  Bakers Lake is positioned right on the edge of the Lumbercamp segment, making it easily accessible if anyone ever wanted to come back and fish it.  Fish were hitting the top of the water with big splashes the entire time we were there.

Home for tonight is nestled between and beneath some small pine trees where the ground is soft and the sleeping is easy.  Our goal for today was 24 miles and we made it before dark.  It is also the last time we will be able to primitive camp anywhere we want(where allowed).  From here on out, it will be parks and IAT designated areas only.  Feels right that our last free camping night was in the pines, one of our favorite places to be.