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A couple of weeks ago, my sister texted me asking if I’d like to go backpacking with a friend of hers (Laura) six days from that day to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!  I was excited, in shock, surprised, and then stressed.  She and her friend had been planning the trip since the beginning of this year, but at the last minute her friend was not able to go, and Laura would not have been able to go without a partner.

So I thought about it for about 10 minutes, and then thought how could I pass up this opportunity?! I probably would never do this trip otherwise.  It takes a day just to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Tennessee, but almost another day to get from there to the Upper Peninsula.

So I had six days to pack and coordinate all of our gear and travel plans.  Next thing I know, I’m meeting Laura and heading north. And what an amazing trip it was.  We hiked the length of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 42 miles, over five days, which is also part of the longer North Country Trail.

We had been hiking the AT in New Hampshire prior to this, climbing thousands of feet in elevation change in only a few miles.  So this hike was a refreshing change!  There was very little elevation change.  Just a few 100 ft or so climbs up and down the cliff.  We were able to hike more miles, more quickly, and still arrive at our campsite half way through the day. Plus it also turns out that almost every campsite that we stayed at had a beach access, and the water was warm and clear and refreshing.  I was actually able to wash my hair half way through the trip and at least able to soak my feet most nights.  The days in Michigan are long, not getting dark till 8:30 pm, and most of the time it was sunny and pleasant.  Sometimes hiking feels like a real chore, but getting to end each day relaxing on a beach was a real pleasure.  Plus the cliffs and the sand and the turquoise waters were so amazing.  The views were breathtaking.

I hope you enjoy our videos and thanks for hiking along with us!

After we had climbed the daunting Mt. Kinsman as our introduction to New Hampshire Appalachian Trail hiking, we were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into! This was much harder than anything we had done before, and we wondered if we would be able to finish the section that we had planned on. We decided instead of continuing to the next section on our hike, Mt. Moosilauke, we would skip it and hike the more mild section to the south to give our bodies one more day to recover.  We hoped by then we would feel well enough to conquer Moosilauke.

After hiking back to our rental car, we drove wearily to a car campground and set up our hammocks.  We were exhausted, but of course not too tired for some delicious Chinese food in town.  After that we crashed in our hammocks and slept soundly.

We had beautiful weather the entire week we were in New Hampshire.  The only major rainstorm happened that next morning, so we decided to give ourselves a break and wait out the rain. We had our breakfast at what was becoming our favorite breakfast place, Dunkin Doughnuts.  Then we cruised the main street of the town for stores that could provide supplies we needed.  We then hung out for the rest of the morning at a nice McDonald’s for delicious iced coffee, WiFi and power.  I was able to get the first YouTube video done for this trip. https://youtu.be/c7Dsfz1CT1k  It took a surprisingly long time and I was only able to get a third of the first day edited and uploaded before it was time to leave for the local pizza place with their $5 special, two pizzas and a soda!

By then it was pouring and we actually got a little wet running from place to place, which we were really trying to avoid.  We were wearing the clothes we were going to hike in and didn’t want them wet already.  But we were glad we could run inside and were not continuously remaining in the rain.  So after pizza, we headed out to the start point of our hike for the day.  By then the rain had stopped and it remained a bit overcast for a while but eventually the sun came out and it was beautiful!

The rest of the story is told in the video, Ore Hill (day 4) below.  The previous day is also included below.  Hope you enjoy hiking with us!  The Big Mt. Moosilauke will be next!

 

 

This is the second day of our New Hampshire Appalachian Trail section hike a couple of weeks ago.  It turned out to be one of the most challenging hikes of the trip and probably the most difficult hike we’ve done.  At the same time, all of the boulder hopping is fun and the views are magnificent!

I was watching videos of thru-hikers going through this area, and they climb up it like mountain goats!  Lol I guess that’s what 1500 miles of conditioning up and down mountains does for you! Lol. (The northbound AT thru hikers started in Goergia and have done approx. 1500 miles at this point!). Some day it might be fun for my husband and I to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as well, but we have to wait until he is at a point where he can take a break from work.  But for now we get to do these sections hikes with my Dad, and these have been the highlights of our hiking trips each year. Definitely the most challenging and most rewarding!

Join us on day 2’s hike in the video below, and I’ll get day 3 edited soon!

Happy 4th!

We just celebrated my and my husbands birthdays and the Fourth of July all in one!  There were cupcake works of art, swimming, and blowing things up!  (fireworks, that is). Great time was had by all!  Lol. Please join us in the celebration in this quick video.  And this Fourth of July just reminds me of how thankful I am to live in this country!

We have been preparing all year to do our big hike this year on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in New Hampshire. My Dad, who is 70, has been hiking sections of the AT for eleven years now, and he has competed about 3/4 of the over 2000 miles of the AT during that time, from Georgia to where we are now in New hampshire.  The trail ends  in Maine.

So we had been preparing all year for this big hike and just completed our New Hampshire section last week.  The trail looks innocently tame on the map.  We only needed to hike 5 miles the first day there.  We’ve done more than that before.  Sure we have to climb 2000 feet in five miles, but we’ve climbed 1000 feet before and rarely 2000 in one day.  But in addition to that, what the map does not show is the ROCKS!  And very steep ascents and decents.  And of course the map just cannot give you the firsthand experience of actually climbing a steep, rocky, boulder-covered mountain!

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After our first two days of ascending and descending Kinsman Mountain, we had wondered what we’d gotten ourselves into.  Would we even be able to finish the section we had planned to do, 50 miles in eight days?  Would we break one of our bones tripping over boulders, climbing down the steep paths?  Would we die from exhaustion??

Below are videos of the first day climbing Kinsman.  I also have videos of our previous hikes and preparation leading up to the AT if you’re interested on my YouTube channel. I’ve only gotten up to editing these videos so far, but will post more soon.  Hope you enjoy hiking along with us!

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We finished the northern section of the 25ish mile Red Leaves Trail at the Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee on New Years Day.  It was a cold but beautiful day.  Click the link to my Facebook page to see pics and a description of the trip.  There is not a lot of info out there about this park, so let me know if you have any questions about it.

This is one of the few parks in western Tennessee that has longer distance backpacking trails with shelters. And while maps and trail markings could still be improved, they have recently completed a lot of upgrades to the trails, such as signs, trail markers, new bridges and shelters that have improved these trails quite a bit.  Hope you can check it out for yourself sometime!

 

We left Sunday after church to hike the loop trail around Cub Creek Lake at Natchez Trace State Park. The park is only 1 1/2 hours from our home in the Memphis area east on I-40, so it’s a pretty quick drive.  This trail is part of a longer trail called the Red Leaves backpacking trail that is approximately 26 miles long and contains 3 back-country shelters at which you can camp.  This should be enough to keep us busy for a while!

We were surprised to find out that for now the park office is open 7 days a week till 4:30.  Most of the Tennessee state parks offices close on weekends and evenings, which seems like the very time they would be needed, when people come and visit the park and camp!  I guess it’s due to lack of funding.  But apparently they have funding for now to be open on the weekends.  There was also a lot of recent work done on new trail bridges, shelters and trail signs as well, which maybe also come from new funding.

So we first first headed to the park office to get the free trail map, which showed us where the back-country shelters were.  There was also a nicer color map available for donation that I also found on the internet.  This map was easier to read, and showed all the back roads in addition to the trails, but did not show the shelters.  I’m not sure why they can’t put both on one map.  But anyway, at least they have them available on some map.  We registered to camp in the back-country with the man in the office, who was very friendly and helpful.  Then we headed off on our adventure!

We didn’t have much time to hike, so we decided to do a small portion of the Red Leaves Trail, hiking it from the park office until it joins with the Cub Creek Trail, and starting by following it around the southern end of Cub Creek lake.  On this end the trail continues for a while, but eventually ends briefly.  From there, you  follow the lake edge, walking past the Recreation Building and the Picnic shelter to the double bridges on the southeast end of the lake.  Then you pass through the cabin area, which was somewhat tricky.  We just ended up walking up the stairs from the lake, turning left onto the road, and then noticed the orange trail marker along the road which marks the Cub Creek Trail.  It had us turn left down the driveway of a cabin, which we felt a little funny about because a large group of people were grilling in the front yard of this cabin!  There were several markers down this driveway, which led us to the right into the woods and back to the Cub Creek Trail at the end of the cabin driveway.  We followed the trail around the east end of the lake to just before the levee.

We were told by the man in the office to look for a side trail to the shelter.   In fact, we did see an approximately three foot high post with a very prominent white marker that marks the Red Leaves Trail, and a trail leading off away from the main trail.  There was also a big nail but no sign attached.  So we assumed this could possibly be the side trail to the shelter.  My husband followed it for a bit and found the shelter.  It was just a tenth of a mile or two off the main trail, but you have to keep a lookout for that little post, just south of the levee.

We were very pleasantly surprised to see an almost brand-new shelter that had been build by Boy Scouts recently.  It was very clean. It had four bunks, two on each side of the shelter and a nice big porch roof overhang at the front.  There was an opening in the eves at the back of the shelter that nicely let in a lot of light, but could be a problem in a storm.  You may need a tarp to prevent water coming in that way.

We hung our two hammocks from the porch posts, and since it was cool, the fire my husband made in the fire-pit felt wonderful.  There were also lots of nice areas for tent camping here.  It was a really pretty site.  The temperature was also cool this weekend, so no bugs!  No mosquitoes, no ticks.  And we hope no chiggers.  We won’t find that out for a couple of days, whether we got them or not.

We had to be back home by midday the next day, so we had planned this hike to have done the longer southern portion (we’re guessing 3 1/2 miles) around the lake the first day, and then we only had 2 1/2 miles to finish up in the morning.  We made good time and enjoyed the northern end of the lake hike.  Back at our car at the park office, we noticed a rehabilitating owl in an enclosure who was quite cute, blinking at us randomly with different eyes.  We headed home and were glad we had another quick hiking getaway!  Hope you enjoy the pictures and that you can get out and hike it soon!  Happy Trails!