Porcupine Mountains Loop - Michigan

Rolling Hills and Forest for MILES! :D
Harvey and I set out to Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan with the goal of doing 3 nights on a 25-30ish mile loop. I had heard that the Porcupine Mts were a must-see in Michigan, so I wanted to go before my impending move to my next job (where it will be? Your guess is as good as mine!). I hesitated to put this in the backpacking section because, of course, this ended up being a Lo-adventure and Harvey and I only did 1 night, fleeing the park in a 15 mile backpacking sprint on Saturday but this seems to be a recurring theme of Lo backpacking trips, so we'll leave it here :)

Weird fungi! 
We rolled into the park at ~12 PM on Friday after driving most of Thursday and sleeping in Gordito (there were literally NO campsites in the upper peninsula to be found at 1 AM on Friday morning. NONE). We knew going it that it was supposed to rain and the forecast was 1/4 inch of rain over 2 days (HA! That's hilarious in retrospect). As 'experienced' backpackers, we packed our rain gear and figured we could handle a little rain :)

Friday was a perfect day. We did 10 miles on the Lake shore trail and had beautiful views of Lake Superior as we trekked along in the forest. Harvey and I kissed on the beach as we laughed about the 'crazy rain' that was supposed to happen on Friday. We forded streams and laughed about how 'wet' we were getting in our waterproof pants. We probably shouldn't have laughed so much...

Notable things about the Porcupine Mts were that we saw at least 30 different kinds of mushrooms throughout the park ("they're everywhere!!") and at least 30 toads throughout the park ("they're everywhere!!"). The woods were pristine and the trails well maintained, so overall I was extremely impressed with the Porkies as a Michigan State Park.
Harvey part-time models for Backpacker Magazine

From there, we did a dispersed camp (re: all the campsites were full and this was actually a legal option for us) on a ridge near the lake. We ate our macaroni and cheese, did a quick pack-less hike to a look out point were we kissed some more as we watched the sun set and ate a caramel filled chocolate bar and talked about our future. I think romantic comedies have nothing on our Friday backpacking day, which then culminated in us passing out (remember, we slept in Gordito the night before... < 4 hours of sleep).

Proving that when you're with someone you love,
a bad situation can still be fun
Somewhere around midnight, the tides changed and decided to test our resolve a bit. A continuous rain began that ranged from "it's definitely raining" to "I can't see in front of me - Make it Stop!" throughout the next 24+ hours. When we woke up, Harvey and I figured that it would 'eventually' end, so we'd just hang out in the tent... After about 6 hours of hanging out in the tent, we decided we needed to accept our fate (re: the tent was starting to flood) and GTFO of Porcupine Mts. Setting up on the ridge had delayed the inevitable a bit (smart choice! High five us!) but now it was 2:00 PM and we needed to hike about 15 miles.

Harvey and I, so far, have one major source of tension in our relationship - backpacking gear. We both think our own gear is far superior to the others ('my tent is so much better than your mesh one'). I totally conceded defeat on this trip in one aspect - my waterproof pants and jacket made of nylon effectively became a wet suit within 20 minutes of our trek (not terrible actually... kept me moderately warm) while Harvey's socks and pants remained DRY throughout the next 6 hours of hiking. Ladies and Gentlemen, fitted goretex is probably the way to go in extended torrential down pours. I was COMPLETELY soaked.

Fording Flooded Streams was pretty common
That is a lot of rain. Ugh.
However, we made it! At the end of our 6 hour sprint where we saw several people setting up tents for the night in the rain ("Harvey, they're nuts! They are absolutely NUTS!") and a group of guys who somehow managed to get a fire going in the rain (?!?!?!), we ended at Lake of the Clouds and had the most amazing view on top of the overlook as the rain stopped (?!?!?!). In the valley below with the Lake and river, steam was rising from the forest and the sky was clearing. The experience was totally surreal. The photo doesn't do it justice, but this view completely made the trip.

Still smiling :) 
Harvey and I playing in the trees at Hartwick Pines
From there, we dried off ("I'll never feel dry again Harvey!"), changed clothes, and made our way to a local bar for dinner before sleeping in Gordito. I must say, if you're in the Upper Peninsula, stopping at a local bar is a MUST, really. You meet some very special people this way. We slept in Gordito again ("This dirt road looks comfy") for another night of great sleep. Harvey only yelled at me once this time for opening the window to vent the car, which let in about 10 mosquitoes which proceeded to eat him alive (oops!)

 Since we had planned for 3 nights in the Porkies, we had some extra time. We meandered our way back to Ann Arbor, stopping on a Lake Michigan beach to cook instant mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese (seriously, best backpacking food combo EVER!) and at Hartwick Pines to check out the largest remaining virgin forest in Michigan.

Overall, rain sucks but, as per usual, it's all about your attitude. Sure Harvey and I were cold, wet, and hungry for most of Saturday, but it didn't stop us from being happy together and looking for the bright spots in our trip - the Lake of the Clouds overlook, Hartwick Pines, Beaches, and singing in the car together on the way home. Harvey and I can't believe our unfathomable luck at finding each other :)
It's like we're happy together or something :) 

You Might Also Like