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  1. #1
    michigandave's Avatar
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    Michigan NCT - 76th Street to M-55 Udell Trailhead, May 19-22. 2016, 53.8 miles



    I had some time available and decided to knock off another section of the NCT and keep working toward the "Hike 100 Mile Challenge". This section would easily fulfill about 50 miles of that goal. I planned on doing it in 4 days, splitting it into almost equal hikes of around 12-15 miles per day. The first 2 days I'd be solo, then meet up with Donk67 at McCarthy Lake for the last 2 days. When we reached Udell, I'd take him back to his car at McCarthy.

    Since this was a point to point hike I needed a shuttle, so I got in contact with Loren, who is the President of the Spirit of the Woods NCT Chapter ( https://www.facebook.com/Spirit-of-t...1957897214269/ ). After letting her know what my plans were, she volunteered her husband Dave to meet me at Udell Trailhead and give me a lift south to 76th Street. She and Dave are true trail angels and he explained to me that this is what they wanted to do in their retirement. Without the shuttle, this hike would have been difficult to pull off solo. Dave met me at the trailhead around 8:00 AM and we enjoyed a nice conversation during the 45 minute drive south to 76th. A big thank you to Dave & Loren for their hard work and dedication to the NCT.

    Day 1: 76th Street TH to Upper Branch Bridge/Elk Campsite, 15.3 miles
    By 9, I was at the trailhead and headed north on the NCT. Temps were in the 50's, sunny and warming up fast. My Flash45 felt good and I was ready to do some miles.



    As with most sections of the NCT in Michigan, it was well marked and easy to follow. This southern section was pretty much flat, with a few areas of hills and some water sources along the way.









    Around 5 miles or so, I took a pack off break at Bowman Lake. The bench was a nice spot to enjoy the lake. I'd like to come back here someday and spend a weekend. There are also some hiking loops here to explore. The lake water was really clear, but I was already set for water.



    Back in the woods again after my break, I continued on my journey.







    Around 2 or so, I was out of the woods and hit the spur to Sulak CG. It was a short walk, but all of the campsites were along a dirt road and the water was another 1/2 mile away. A car drove by me and covered me with dust, so I continued on to my destination: Elk Campsite west of Upper Branch Bridge.

    There were some nice views along the river and I'd love to have camped here, but it's illegal in the Pere Marquette River area unless you're at an established canoe access or walk-in campsite.



    Unfortunately, the bend across the river is private property. Would have made a great spot to spend the night.





    After following the access road through Upper Bridge, I found the trail that would take me to the 4 sites at Elk, which are meant to be used by the canoers.
    I figured it's a Thursday and I'll have it to myself (later that evening, 2 backpackers wandered in and camped at the opposite end). At around 3, I wrapped up for the day and set up my camp after 15.3 miles and 5:35 hours of walking.



    View from my SLD Trail Lair in 1.0 hexon, with my 40 degree EE Reveleation TQ and HG Phoenix 40.



    Everything to keep me satisfied after a long day on the trail. I'd gotten up at 4:30 AM and driven 3 hours, so I was ready to relax!





    I turned in early and had a good night with temps in the high 30's. No rain and it was very quiet along the river.

    Day 2: Elk to McCarthy Lake 12.7 miles
    The next morning, I was up early and hit the trail by 7:30, after making a quick stop.



    My first 1.2 miles would be an easy roadwalk before entering the woods again for another 2 miles for my water break at Timber Creek CG.







    I enjoyed some more easy hiking in the woods. By around 10 or 11, it really started to heat up and there's wasn't much shade in the woods.



    I found a nice spot and took an extended break. The cut stump made a perfect chair!





    Finally, I came over a small hill and got a view of McCarthy Lake, my destination for the night where I'd meet up with Donk67.



    Around 1 PM, I arrived after hiking 12.7 miles. I was hot and needed to relax, so I was glad to end the day. The site I wanted was taken, so I grabbed this one and setup my gear and cooled my feet off in the lake.





    I pretty much just lounged in my hammock and snacked. There is road access and I knew that people car camp back there in the summer. Eventually, another group of backpackers arrived and setup nearby. Then, a car drove in...next a jeep with a family...then it went downhill and the 1st of 2 fifth wheels arrived loaded for the weekend. My new neighbors spoiled it for me.



    Donk67 arrived shortly after and I presented him my Plan B: Let's hit the trail and get some miles in, since it was only 7 PM. He was thinking the same thiing, so, we cooked up his brats, drank our beers & cokes, and had some chips and potato salad. We knew if we stayed it would be loud and we needed a good nights sleep to take on the big mile day ahead.



    Back on the trail, we knocked off another 1.3 miles and found a great spot on the edge of clearing around 9:00 PM. The next morning, I realized I had camped underneath a deer stand up in the tree.





    Day 3: N. of McCarthy to Koenig/Tyndall Rd Pine Stealth Camp 15.2

    Donk67 and I started the day around 5:30 and got on the trail by 7:00, to avoid the heat that we'd knew we'd be hitting later that day. It was cool out, but 80 degrees was forecasted. After getting our legs warmed up, we enjoyed the morning hike.







    We made a water stop at the Vince Smith Memorial Bridge, but the mosquitos were bad. We ended up filling our sawyer bags then headed to high ground to filter.



    Out of the woods again, we had a 2.3 mile road walk and were grateful that we were out while it was still cool out.




    Back in the woods, we continued on our journey.





    This would have been our destination, but we knew that if we could keep going and get some more miles in, it would make Sunday an easier hike. Plus, Bear Track is a 2.2 mile round trip and it was also the closest water source. So, Don had cached 2 gallons of water near the spur the night before that we used for the rest of the day and last night in the woods. We knew we'd only have 2 miles in the morning before we hit the next water source.



    After watering up, we were running out of steam and hit this long boardwalk. It was really getting hot and the sun was brutal.





    Finally, we came to a perfect pine plantation around 3 PM and found a spot up on the hill to cool down and take advantage of the breeze. This would be our spot for the night.









    It was another great night in the woods with no rain. I went with porch mode, but Donk67 went tarpless. Both of us were amazed how quiet it was all night.

    Day 4: Pine Stealth Camp to Udell 9.3 miles
    At 5:30, the alarm went off and we were up and on the trail by 6:20. Temps were in the mid 50's and it was perfect hiking weather. We stopped at 9 Mile Bridge TH to water up and take a short break before we hit the Udell Hills.







    The Udell Hills area was the highlight of the trip. Nice easy hiking and clear views through the forest. It went quicker than we thought too. After leaving the hills, we went by some private land and had this welcome us.





    By 11:15 we were back at Udell Trailhead and the journey was over. We'd hiked 9.3 miles that day. Donk57 knocked off about 25 miles of his NCT goal and I ended up doing 53.8. It was a great trip and we had perfect weather. Plus, we did a section of the NCT that neither of us had done before.

    One thing that was key was thinking out the trip first and having options. We were smart to pack up in McCarthy and go north. It would have been a bad night due to noise. If we hadn't cached the water, we would have been forced to detour or stay at Bear Creek and that would have made Sunday a long hot day.

    It was a long report and picture heavy, but it's a resource for anyone that might want to do the same trip. Thanks for coming along!

    Link to full album:
    http://s1268.photobucket.com/user/mi...2019-22%202016

    https://northcountrytrail.org/
    Last edited by michigandave; 05-27-2016 at 13:46.
    "Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice"
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  2. #2
    Big Flounder's Avatar
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    Great report my friend! Looks like a great trip. I almost didn't recognize Don without his beard! Lol
    -Jameson
    Proud Member of the North Country Trail Association-Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Donk_67's Avatar
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    I am Donk67 and I approve this message. Lessons applied which made this weekend excursion easy: 1. Early starts are key in hot weather. 2. Going light helps; I would have liked my chair at times, but the 20 oz. I saved helped to keep my wet weight below 25lbs.
    3. Permethrin works; had zero tick issues.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    michigandave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donk_67 View Post
    I am Donk67 and I approve this message. Lessons applied which made this weekend excursion easy: 1. Early starts are key in hot weather. 2. Going light helps; I would have liked my chair at times, but the 20 oz. I saved helped to keep my wet weight below 25lbs.
    3. Permethrin works; had zero tick issues.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Good point on the permethrin. It was my first time using it and it worked. On the first day, my pack baseweight was 17 lbs, with 5 lbs of food and 3 water bottles. I also drank the beer and had my heaviest meal w/dessert the first night. Early starts are what made the hike doable, since around 11 AM the woods heated up like an oven.
    "Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice"
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  5. #5
    Big Flounder's Avatar
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    Permethrin...notes taken!
    -Jameson
    Proud Member of the North Country Trail Association-Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter
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  6. #6
    OneClick's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report Dave. Bright sun on that Michigan sand...brutal. It's like walking in a kiln!

    In over 20 years I've never seen a single tick in MI. But I'm still interested in permethrin for keeping away mosquitoes. I bought some but haven't had a chance to try it our yet.
    It's overfill, not overstuff

  7. #7
    nimbus37's Avatar
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    Great trip report Dave. This is the northern portion of my hike I did last summer. We did timber creek cg south to the NCT schoolhouse. Good job!

  8. #8
    Big Flounder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markr6 View Post
    In over 20 years I've never seen a single tick in MI.
    Seriously? That's awesome (for you)! I day hiked just under 10 miles the other day on the NCT in the eastern part of the yoop and later pulled 10 ticks off of me that evening back at the cabin. Was driving back to Indiana yesterday morning and looked down to see one crawling across my pant leg, so out the window of the truck he went. The flies, skeeters and ticks were thick up there the other day. I need to give that permethrin a try next time because the usual OFF wasn't doing the trick.
    -Jameson
    Proud Member of the North Country Trail Association-Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter
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  9. #9
    OneClick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Woodsman View Post
    Seriously? That's awesome (for you)! I day hiked just under 10 miles the other day on the NCT in the eastern part of the yoop and later pulled 10 ticks off of me that evening back at the cabin. Was driving back to Indiana yesterday morning and looked down to see one crawling across my pant leg, so out the window of the truck he went. The flies, skeeters and ticks were thick up there the other day. I need to give that permethrin a try next time because the usual OFF wasn't doing the trick.
    Actually I take that back. I remember a nightmare trip I took to Hoist Lakes in late-May years ago and the black flies and ticks took me out. But other than that, no. But I'm rarely out between May and September, so that's probably why.
    It's overfill, not overstuff

  10. #10
    michigandave's Avatar
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    7-8-16 Update: On July 1-3, I made the trip back to the NCT and did the section from 76th Street South to 40th Street. Here's the link to the trip report:
    https://hammockforums.net/forum/show...4-8-miles-Solo
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