Saturday, August 22, 1998

I left Grand Rapids around noon, and didn't get started on the trail until 4:00. It seemed like a long drive, but I think the hike was worth it.

The idea was to take Tanner and Sarge out overnight while Sue was in Chicago. A nice hike, some nice views, do a little fishing.

First off, finding where to start hiking was a bit of a problem. The Forest Headquarters had the right maps, but the weekend volunteers didn't know a thing about the trail.

I probably should have started hiking from the parking area next to Pigeon Bridge Campground. Instead I started hiking from "marker 6", just north of the Pigeon River Campground. I followed the course of the river north to marker 7. As soon as I saw it I knew I had started at the wrong spot, since I had only hiked for 20 or 30 minutes. It was okay though, it gave me a chance to make up my destination as I went along.

Shortly before the trail marker, the dogs stuck their noses in some bushes and came out with bees swarming them. Stupid me, I walked up behind them and ended up getting stung three times. I'm not sure how many time the dogs got stung.

My hike continued to Marker 8, that's the Old Cornwall Town Site, and further along the Pigeon River. I was looking for some good spots to fish, but the trail never seemed to go very close to the river and I didn't see any side trails. I suppose I could have bushwacked my way through the dense forest if I was really looking for a fishing hole.

At one point the trail heads to the west and up a good sized hill. At that point, the river is out of the picture. The trail continued across a few old logging roads to an overlook of Grass Lake. The overlook isn't that impressive, but it's worth a stop.

From the overlook, I went south along Grass Lake toward marker 9. There are at least two campsites near the lake, there were people at them so I contuned on the trail head east. I passed by Section 4 Lake, but that was the prettiest small lake I've seen in Michigan. The water was very clear and obviously deep. It was also posted "no camping, no fishing." It looks like they may be trying to stock it with trout.

By this time it was getting late and I needed a campsite. The only one I knew of was at the Old Cornwall Town site. Unfortunately the campsite is just a few steps off the trail. I bushwacked all around the area looking for something better, but that was the site. The river here isn't really a river. It's more of a meandering marsh. No fishing in sight. And getting good water from the river was almost pointless.

After eating and reading a while I laid down in the tent and soon heard a few sprinkles falling. I quickly put on the fly and was soon listening to an incredible downpour, complete with lots of lightning strikes. The dogs and I were really nervous as the strikes eventually were right overhead. I said a few prayers and hoped I wouldn't get hit. Never in my life had I been this nervous during a storm.

The storm kept blowing at us all night long and into the morning. I was really glad that the tent stayed almost entirely dry -- if I had staked it out we would have been perfectly dry.

Sunday, August 23, 1998

When the rain finally let up around 9:00 I got up, ate and packed as quickly as possible. I didn't want to get caught in heavy rain since the weather was still threatening.

I had wanted to hike past Grass Lake again and do a loop around Ford Lake, but I really didn't fel like getting soaking wet. I really wanted to fish.

I ended up hiking straight back to my car and driving to the upper Manistee to try for some trout.

In retrospect, this was a pretty nice place to hike. It's a little hilly which helps the adventerous spirit and scenery. But there are a lot of roads and I shared the trail with some mountain bikers, so it's not exactly remote.

My advice would be to start at the campground on Sturgeon Valley Road and do the whole 10 or 11 mile loop. That's what I'll do next time.