The original plan was to head out with all the ladies on Thursday and go straight up to the Glen Arbor/Empire area.
With the forecast for the weekend looking pretty dire, MaryKay and I decided to head out a day early and spend our first (perfect weather) night in the Manistee National Forest. Our ideal.
We paid our fee for the night in the dropbox, put the stub in the window and hit the trail. Our plan was to just stay to the left, and that's what we did.
The only part where we were a little unsure was here where the Y in the road was. The path to the left was blocked with trees. Fallen and not picked up, or put there intentionally - and if so, why?
We could see there had been foot traffic going that way, so we stepped over the logs and kept to the left as planned.
And we made it just fine.
Dune camping. We opted not to camp on the dunes as we wanted a place to hang our hammocks, and neither of us were interested in the getting too much sand in our gear.
Unsure of how far down we were going to hike and how hard it would be to find our way back to the trail out, we decided we best take a picture of a landmark. The two scraggly pines there on the right was what we'd look for. The trail entrance is hidden in the shadows.
Walking with a pack on sand is hard. We didn't wander too far from the trail before settling on a spot. Scenery check: spot on.
A place to hang two hammocks? Check and seal the deal.
After eating lunch and setting up camp (we had headed out from home at 7:15 am, and set up camp at 11:30) we took a walk a few miles down the beach to the south.
One of the very few critters we saw all weekend.
A couple hours into our beach walk, we sat down to make some dinner. Nothing stupid happened, and we recommend the chicken teriyaki.
The hammocks felt good after that hike. One of these times I'll spend the whole night right here in my hammock.
While we saw signs of deer, we never saw any. Nor did we see any bear, chipmunks, snakes or raccoons. The guys camped on the other side of the dune though (in that tent in the dunes) said they lost nearly their entire food supply to coons the night before. They were impressed with our food and toiletry hang. I was impressed that I remembered how to do it as I'd forgotten to review the videos before heading out this year.
Then headed down to the beach to watch the sunset.
A few other folks popped out of their spots up and down the shore.
(While hiking those few miles down the beach, we could see some footprints here and there, but never saw any tents from the beach)
Followed this with a campfire before calling it a night.
The bugs were minimal.
I didn't sleep super well the first night, but I never got cold. I like my new sleeping pad (AirRail 1.5) better than the one I used last year. Dividends well spent.
We enjoyed a relaxing start to our Thursday. I begin my day with coffee, and then use the same cup for my hot oatmeal. I pulled myself out of the tent and enjoyed my breakfast closer to the beach.
My Jetboil is a favorite pack item.
We finally got packed up at about 1:30 and headed back out. It took us a little longer to climb back up the path to the trailhead than it did coming down.
The one thing I forgot to do this time was weigh my pack before we started out. I'm slowly changing things out for lighter weight items, and have a few more to go before I get my pack exactly how I'd like it.
I want to go back.