Category Archives: Backpacking

Manistee River Trail/North Country Trail Backpack, MI

Trip participants: Kathy Koning (co-leader), Dave Hoffmeyer (co-leader), Mark Bontrager, Emma Castator, Lisa Forester, Susan Haldeman, Leslie Green, Les Schaffer, Barry Tague

This was beautiful hike, with some minor weather challenges. We had great people who came together as a team to have a fun three days. We also set what we feel are two new club records (more on that later).

The group met up in Westfield on Friday morning to begin our seven-hour ride to the Manistee National Forest. Many club members have done this hike before, but this was the first time hiking it as a CIWC event. On the road we entertained ourselves by holding the chore ”lottery” as we drew slips out of an envelope to assign roles for cooking cleanup and water filtration. We also spent some time looking at the radar hoping the rain would hold off!

After making one last stop in Cadillac to say good bye to porcelain for a couple of days, we were off to the Upper River Road trailhead on the west side of the Manistee River. Ed Chappel, the North Country trail area coordinator, informed us that the trail went right through the parking lot. . .we only found one trail leading in the opposite direction of which we were headed. Club Record #1: earliest to get lost on the trail, heading the wrong way straight from the back of the club van! We road walked in the direction we were supposed to be headed and came across the trail just before we crossed the bridge on the Manistee River.

After we crossed the river to continue our six-mile day, we came across a pile of bear scat . . . so much for the assurances that there were no bears in the area! It started to sprinkle as we looked for a campsite, but the heavy rain held off until it was time to set up camp. For a river trail, it was not very easy to get water. Our water gathering team headed down a steep embankment and then had to lean over to get water. Les leaned over a little too far and went head first right into the river, getting completely soaked. Luckily, she made her way out and was able to get into dry clothes.

The rain kept getting heavier so we were faced with having to cook, eat dinner, and set up our tents in the rain. It was impossible not to get a little wet but, overall, we did pretty well staying dry. The only victim of the rain was Kathy’s spork, which was never to be seen again in spite of all our efforts to find this key piece of gear.

The rain did finally stop around 3:00 AM, and we awoke to damp tents with temps in the mid-30’s. The rain and drop in temperature did make for good sleeping weather, so the group didn’t get moving until around 8:00 AM the next morning. It was a challenge to get water and to attempt to dry out gear. We also took our time cooking pancakes, so we successfully set Club Record #2: we didn’t break camp until 11:00 AM.

Once we got on the trail on Saturday, it was beautiful! The east side of the river has many beautiful views overlooking the expanse of hills with the Manistee River flowing below. After hiking about five miles along the east side of the river, we crossed a hiker-only suspension bridge and ate lunch alongside the west side of the river, one of the few places where it is easy to get water.

After lunch we decided to go about six more miles to make our Sunday hike shorter. We came across a skeleton of a deer right in the middle of the trail. For some reason we did not see much wildlife other than birds – no deer or bear nor any smaller animals like squirrels or even chipmunks.

The trail climbs onto a high bluff about a half-mile from the river, so the only place to get water on the west side is a nice clear stream called Eddington Creek. After topping off all of our water bottles and bladders, we continued on. On the east side there are plenty of campsites, but on the west side there are very few. We found a mostly level area alongside the trail and made camp amongst the ferns.

The beautiful day turned into a very nice evening, Mark taught fire making skills, our Saturday night dinner crew did a fantastic job, and then it was on for evening activities. Our campfire was perfect for making s’mores, and we enjoyed them immensely! We told old hiking stories and went to bed under a perfect, starlit sky.

In the morning, we got up to a quick breakfast, packed up, and hit the trail for the last five miles back to the trailhead. We arrived by 11:00 AM with everyone accounted for and drove into Manistee for a McDonald’s restroom break. Naturally, we couldn’t resist the guilty pleasure of some fast food after being on the trail. We arrived back in Westfield around 7:00 PM and put an end to a very successful hike. Great people, great teamwork. Great scenery and great times were had by all!

Red River Gorge Backpack, KY

Participants: Danielle Griffin, George Lindley, Kathy Koning, Kristen Koning, Sarah Koning, Jim Mata, Donald Nelson, Brock Schaffer, Leslie Schaffer, Barry Tague

We met at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning on the south side of Indianapolis. After introductions and loading of gear, we drove four hours to Red River Gorge for a Memorial Day weekend hike. After
stopping for parking permits, lunch, and shuttling cars, we started out on the Sheltowee Trace Trail, beginning at the Corner Ridge Trailhead on the north side of the park. We hiked about three miles following turtle blazes and set up camp near the Lost Branch Trail. Due to starting later in the day, we found the best campsites already occupied and end up staying about ¼ mile uphill from the river
which was our needed water source. After setting up camp and cooking a group dinner, several people went down to the river to pump water. While the weather was perfect during the day, the night
temperatures were a bit cooler than some had anticipated.

After waking on Sunday and cooking a hot breakfast, we started on our eight mile hike past many beautiful and popular landmarks. We first came across the Indian Steps where we watched people
rappelling off of the cliff. We continued on the trail, crossing two small creeks, and climbed to Indian Arch which was a remarkable sandstone formation. After hiking along several scenic cliffs, we crossed a suspension bridge over the Red River. We followed the Red River downstream and saw hikers jumping off a large rock into the river. Shortly after, we found a campsite for the night near the Chimney Top Creek. The poison ivy was thick everywhere and it was a challenge to avoid. After wading in the creek, pumping water, and eating dinner, we had a campfire, s’mores, and good conversation. After hoisting the food bag again, we settled in for the night. Most of us figured out a way to be a little warmer the second night.

On Monday morning we woke to another perfect day. We ate a quick breakfast and headed out for the remaining three miles to Pinch-Em-Tight Trailhead. After a 400-foot gain in elevation, we reached Signature Rock where we took in the sun, lots of water, and the scenery. From there, we hiked a short distance to the trailhead and parted ways. We met new friends, learned new skills, and overall had a great Memorial Day trip!

New York Appalachian Trail Hike

Participants: Joni Moore (Leader), Donna Davidson (Co-leader), Bill Armstrong, Curt Romerill, Dan Harrell, John Bredenkamp, Keith Trinkle, Paul Moore

Utilizing almost every inch of space in the CIWC van for our trip gear (backpacks, pertinents and such) we headed out early for our trip. After an uneventful day of travel and making good time we spent a night in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania which got us far enough along to have time the next day to do some shopping at Campmor Outfitters. We then decided to head to the New Jersey/New York state line and begin our hike there.

It took a while to locate a trail leading to the Appalachian Trail (AT) but, once we did, we wasted no time in getting our day packs and boots on to hit the trail. After a mile or so we came to the section of the AT marked at the state line NJ/NY; that was a first for most of us on the hike. So, there we were beginning our hike at the beginning of the AT section for New York. We didn’t spend much time at this site as we knew it was getting late in the afternoon and we still had lots of ground to cover. After hiking several miles we came to a parking area where Paul was waiting for us in the club van which held our dinner and overnight gear. We did not waste any time refueling with a delicious barbeque dinner, loading our overnight gear on our backs and hitting the trail again for the Wildcat Shelter.

The hike to Wildcat Shelter proved to be a real challenge since there was a lot of rocky terrain and boulders to climb up and over and darkness was quickly setting in. Upon arrival at Wildcat Shelter
the shelter was found to be full (well with only two other hikers who took up the whole shelter and did not appear to be willing to share the space). I guess that’s what happens when you get there late in the
day. Thankfully, a few of our group had arrived before dark so they were able to locate good tent sites. The rest of us arrived after dark and had no problem getting set up for the night. Hiking by a full moon and our headlamps added a greater level of adventure to our hike.

On day two of our trip we discovered that most of the terrain was much the same as it was the evening before. Lots more rocky paths to hike through and boulders to climb (this really slowed us down). At the top of some of those boulders and balds, however, there were some spectacular views of seemingly endless lakes and countryside. We also enjoyed a scattering of small river falls that proved to be impressive from a close view. As the day progressed to evening and
knees were straining from several steep descents, we ended our hike a few miles short of our original goal. Having ended the day a bit early
we were able to spend more time preparing and enjoying our dinner. Joni had a feast of salmon patties with mac and cheese planned for dinner and it went over very well. Since Paul was able to meet us in the van at various points along this section of the trail, we took full advantage and Paul kept our beverages of choice iced down and ready for us to enjoy with dinner. Ice cold beer and hard ice tea…hard to beat after a day on the trail.

Day three of our trip we woke to pouring rain. After quickly packing we went to a park shelter to attempt to dry our stuff and prepare breakfast. There was no letting up on the rain and the earlier
forecast of 30% chance of rain escalated to 100% and the same for the next day. The rain seemed to preclude any safe passage over the rocks and boulders we covered the previous days, so we decided to end our hike. After some cruising around driving over a Hudson River bridge, visiting Greymoor Spiritual Center and the Bear Mountain
Lodge we decided to head back home. The best part of the drive home was a very large black bear seen in the woods near the highway while driving through Pennsylvania.



Beginning Backpacking, Shades State Park, IN

Participants: Susy Price, Sandy Hicks, Marvin Pribble, Wendy Brinson and Bob Hart (leader)

This trip was held at the backcountry camping area within Shades Sate Park. The purpose of the trip was to provide an elementary overnight backpacking experience (or refresher) for new people in CIWC.

The group met on Saturday morning at the parking lot closest to the trail head leading to the “Backpack Camp”. The first order of business was to do some light day hiking on other park trails to get acquainted and see some of the parks features, as well as look at Sugar Creek. Back at the parking area we found a nearby picnic table and had some demonstrations regarding water treatment options. Those props would be left in the back of the truck because we knew that there would be potable water at the campsite.

After lunch we split up group gear and group food and hoisted up our backpacks in order to begin our 2.5 to 3 mile hike to the backcountry camping site. It was a leisurely hike with some picture-taking along
the way. At the backcountry area we found and occupied the last two campsites. The weekend weather was predicted to be dry, so many other campers were back there. Our campsites were perfect, being close to the water spigot and the primitive toilets. The first order of business at the campsites (per CIWC protocol) was to pitch tents.

Shortly after that, we had a welcome visitor (club president Dave Hoffmeyer) who packed in our firewood. There was a policy mixup at the gatehouse and we were told that firewood would no longer be delivered to the backcountry, as had been past practice. Dave went way beyond the call of duty and we were greatly in his debt. (We found out later that this mix up was resolved and fixed by park management).

During the late afternoon and before supper there was time for rest and or exploring the backcountry area, which included a trip to the canoe campsite on the edge of Sugar Creek. The supper plan was to
make individual pizzas which (by design) required group participation. All went well and the pizzas were customized to each camper’s preference.

After supper we demonstrated how to hang food from a tree and had the traditional campfire, and of course, with campfire stories. Then, it was off to bed.

In the morning we had our breakfast, packed up and hiked out. Then Bob, Sandy and Susy went to lunch in a civilized setting at the Turkey Run Inn. All in all it was a great trip.

Hiking the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Participants: John South (trip leader), Joe Sullivan, Charles Bullock, Nick Fullenkamp, Gary Boehle

Big South Fork is located roughly 20 miles west of I-75 between Kentucky and Tennessee.

We left Noblesville at 8:30 Monday morning for a 6-hour trip to Big South Fork. The government shutdown preceding the trip had us looking at different options, but fortunately the combatants sheathed their swords (tongues) and the shutdown was over in time for the trip. One casualty of a Monday start was a brain fade. Gary left his boots behind and decided to forge on hiking the distance in his leather loafers.

This trip had a few different wrinkles. The hiking consisted of two day hikes and two backpack hikes. We hiked in three distinct locations in the park and were in two states. Each hiker provided all his own food and stoves. Some prefer to provide their own food to save weight and eat what they want. There were some good discussions about food preparation and dehydration methods.  The merits of alcohol, propane and multi-fuel stoves were also discussed. If you want a quick meal, leave the alcohol stove at home but it is easy to find rubbing alcohol even in a small Tennessee pharmacy.

After arriving on Monday afternoon we had a nice 3-mile shake down hike to our campsite next to the Clear Fork. Making sure that water was available was a prime concern for locating campsites. Most streams were still running well.

Tuesday was a day-hike on the 5.6 mile Honey Creek loop. This is considered one of the best, but most difficult, trails in the park. I would not attempt this trail with wet conditions. Backpacks are not recommended due to the rugged terrain, bending and climbing.  The trail passes by tall rock faces and overlooks the Clear Fork. The jewel is hiking up the Honey Creek ravine/valley back to the uplands. The ravine made me think of Turkey Run’s water trail on steroids. The trail twists and turns and is sometimes hard to follow.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: This loop trail had some interesting challenges and great scenery. We visited numerous rock shelters, tall rock faces, the Twin Arches (tallest east of the Mississippi), Slave Falls and Charit Creek lodge. By the map we hiked between 6-8 miles each day but Charles’ GPS said we were doing more like 8-11 miles. The views atop the Twin Arches were great and the fall colors were on display. Charit Creek is a lodge/hostel for hikers and horseback riders. The warm stove, coffee, soft drinks and candy lifted the spirits after walking in a light rain that morning. It was a great place to stop for lunch and relax.

The weather did not disappoint us. Most days were in the low 70’s to the low 50’s at night. We hiked in a light rain one morning and it rained one evening. Campfires each night helped take the chill off. Friday night did drop into the 30s. Pancakes and sausage helped warm us up on Saturday morning. Most days were sunny and warm with perfect hiking/camping conditions.

On Friday, after taking a shower and setting up camp in deserted Blue Heron modern campground, we looked for a place for a celebration dinner. We asked a local policeman where to find a good steak and beer. We were informed that we were in a dry county with only average places to eat. We ended up at the local 1950’s Drive In. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

Saturday we spent some time looking over the Blue Heron Mining Community outdoor museum. There were many displays that tell the story of the abandoned mining town. A six mile hike was completed at a quick pace to start for home by 2:00. We returned safely to Noblesville by 9:00.

Springer Mountain Backpack, GA

On Tuesday morning, with Doug’s planning, we gathered our crew of nine together. Parking was an issue so we had pickups at Holiday Park, who graciously allowed us to park two cars there for the week, and stops at Greenwood and Columbus. Then we were ready to set out on our great adventure.

We drove all day, arriving in Blairsville, GA, 13 miles west of Blood Mountain Cabins. That was to be our final stop for the night. We were told by the locals that Mikes Seafood Restaurant was the place to eat, and that we did! After stuffing ourselves to the limit, we headed out to the cabins. The guys, Doug, Tim, Mike, and Terry, were to stay in the “Raccoon” cabin. The girls, Joni, Jane, Kandy, Donna, and Leslie, were given the “Beaver” cabin. We had all the luxuries of home, right down to the stuffed beaver and raccoons for décor.

We all got up early Wednesday and took what were to be our last showers for four days. Tom Bazemoore, who was to be our shuttle driver, arrived and, as we moved our van, we noticed the back tire was losing air fast! George told us to go on and he would see to it that it would be fixed when we got back. That’s what you call “Southern Hospitality!”

It took us almost an hour and a half to get to the parking lot at the start of the trail. During the drive, Tom pointed out where we would be crossing several roads on the AT and also highlights to look for.

Tom took our pictures before we started and we geared up for the mile hike to the top of Springer Mountain, the starting point. We had to backtrack down to the parking lot to follow the trail. The first day we hiked around 10 miles to the Hawk Mountain Shelter. We took a side trail to the Long Creek Falls which was well worth it. There weren’t a lot of people out on the trail, although we did share camp with an older couple that we nicknamed “The Snorers” and a young man with no real gear to his name, just a dream of doing the trail. After a dinner of burritos, we settled in for the night to the soothing sounds of “the Snorers.”

Day two we left camp for a strenuous eight mile day of uphill/downhill hiking. By the time we reached the Gooch Mountain Shelter we were all feeling the pain. We set up camp and fixed our dinner of chicken with stuffing and mixed vegetables. We were worn out but did manage to play a few games of “friendly” Euchre before dark.

Day three was to be our longest day of 12 miles, with a half mile hike to the Woods Hole Shelter. The water source was halfway between the shelter and the trail. We had a dinner of minestrone soup and garlic cheddar biscuits. Terry won the award of putting away the most food that night. Doug also told us that that was to be his last long distance hike. We will miss having him on the trail with us.

Day four was our final day and the toughest part to hike. We would only hike four miles, but it was up and over Blood Mountain, elevation 4,461 feet, the highest point on the AT in GA. At the top of the mountain was the Blood Mountain Shelter, built by the WPA in the 1940s. The views all around were breathtaking.

We arrived back to Neel’s Gap between noon and two. Our first priority was showers at George’s cabins, then we went back to explore the unique store at Neel’s Gap.

True to his word, George had our tire fixed on the van. We all chipped in to give him a tip for all of his help. We left the cabins and headed back to Blairsville. It was unanimous that we stop again at Mikes Seafood restaurant, but sad to see that it was closed till evening. We opted for the Armadillo Restaurant close by and had a great Mexican meal instead.

We headed out for the drive home, stopping close to Lexington for the night and a well deserved bed! Sunday Morning, after breakfast in the hotel, we headed for home, arriving back around noon with a lot of new friends and great memories.

Isle Royale National Park Backpack, MI

Isle Royale, as one of our guide books pointed out, is one of the least visited of all the National Parks but also one of the most revisited. Located in the middle of Lake Superior, Isle Royale is 45 miles long by 9 miles wide and is home to the longest running predation study in history, a study on the relationship between the island’s wolf and moose populations. After a wonderful week backpacking the island, I will not be surprised if I find myself among those who return time and time again. The scenery was beautiful, the hiking was challenging yet fun, and I loved spending the week in nature with my mom and making new friends through the club trip.

After a long day’s ride up to Copper Harbor in the CIWC van, we spent the night at the North Port Motel figuring out last minute packing details and resting up for our backpacking adventure. We left Sunday morning on the Isle Royale Queen IV for a 3½ hour ferry ride over to Rock Harbor. We were greeted by a very engaging ranger who reminded us about Leave No Trace ethics and then sent us on our way to Three Mile Campground where we spent the first night.

On Monday, we had a leisurely morning and then took off on the first of our long hiking days, heading 8 miles to Moskey Basin. We started out the hike along the coast of Lake Superior until the trail cut inland through some beautiful aspen groves and more inland scenery. Once we arrived and set up camp, we caught up with some of our new friends from the ferry, prepared dinner, and spent the evening talking about a big group of loons that kept paddling past us and watching dragonflies zooming by and as the sun set over the water.
Tuesday we headed out for a long hike to McCargoe Cove. When we arrived, a few of us went swimming off the end of the dock before enjoying a dinner of Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice and going for an evening venture up to Pine Mountain. From the top, we were all impressed watching the sunset over the island’s many lakes at the same time as the moon rose directly behind us.

Wednesday morning, Andrew and Barb saw a fox just before dawn. Then, after breakfast, we hiked up to Mt. Ojibway, the second highest peak on the Island. Throughout the hike, my mom and I were snacking on thimbleberries, native berries that look a lot like raspberries, that we found along the trail. We then hiked down to Daisy Farm just in time to hear a presentation about the moose and wolf populations by Sandy Peterson, who has lived and done research on the Island with her husband for 42 years! My take-home message from the presentation was her comment, describing a wolf crossing ice bridges to the island, that “There are explorers in all species.”

On our final major hiking day, we left from Daisy Farm and hiked to our final destination, Rock Harbor, where we set up camp for the night and celebrated our arrival with dinner at the Greenstone Grill. The next morning, we left our packs at the campsite and went on our lightest trek of the trip – a walk down to the tip of the peninsula with just our day packs. We caught the ferry back to the mainland, spent the night in Rhinelander, and made our way back home. With good company, comfortable campgrounds, perfect weather, and gorgeous coastlines, sunrises, and sunsets, I couldn’t have asked for more on my first backpacking trip.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Participants: 5 including the trip leader

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, for those unfamiliar with the area, is a 42 mile section on the North Country Trail starting in Grand Maris, Michigan and ending in Munising, Michigan (Upper Peninsula). The trail follows the southern shore of Lake Superior and is governed by the National Parks Service.

This was the club’s second trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. What a difference a year (and change of seasons) makes. The 2011 version was in July and in the middle of a hot spell with fly/ mosquito season in full flourish. It was a great group who toughed out the conditions. This year’s timing was much better. Park Staff recommend the last week of August when it is still warm (by Upper Peninsula standards) and the summer crowds are dwindling. Great advice! Seventy degree days and mid-fifty nights, and we hit a clear dry few days that were perfect for the many magnificent vistas along the trail.

Munising is a ten hour drive from Indianapolis and we arrived at our motel about 6:00 PM Saturday evening. The Sunset Motel is a very nice mom and pop old style motel sitting right on South Bay and named the “Sunset” for a very good reason. Sunday morning we had breakfast at local restaurant, picked up our permits and caught our shuttle to the Grand Maris trailhead. The trail is generally divided in roughly three areas; the Grand Sable Banks and Dunes, Twelve Mile Beach and Pictured Rocks Cliffs. Our plan was three nights and four days to cover the trail.

Sunday was a short day, seven miles, skirting behind the dunes to an area referred to a Log Slide. This site was used during the logging days where logs were carted to the top of the dunes and then slid down to the lake side for transporting by boat to the mills. Looking back toward Grand Maris, the dunes stretched for about seven miles. From this point, the next twenty five miles were predominantly right on the cliffs or beach areas along Lake Superior. Our first campsite was about a half mile from the historic Grand Sable Light Station built in 1874. The station is well maintained but is approximately one and half miles from the nearest parking area. It gets few visitors relative to other Michigan lighthouses. Our next three days (thirty-five miles) were highlighted by magnificent sunny skies, a cool breeze off the lake and numerous vistas from cliffs and beach areas. High points included Twelve Mile Beach, Trappers Lake, Grand Portal Point, the confluence of the Mosquito River and Lake Superior, Miners Beach and Miners Castle Point and the Munising Falls. The trails were in excellent condition with relatively few elevation changes. We had a really good group with everyone contributing to make an enjoyable trip. John led the way most of the trip finding great resting spots while the rest of us caught up. Ken was our official fire man building great camp fires and tending them to the end. Wayne entertained us with his many stories of family adventures to remote parks and waters. Dave was always helpful as an experienced trip leader and advisor helping wherever necessary, especially at meal times and breaking camp “leaving no trace.”

At trails end we returned to the Sunset for showers and a few adult beverages, dinner at a very good Munising restaurant and a final return to the motel for sunset watching. There was much rehashing of the magnificent sites and variety of terrain that make up Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.

Picture Rocks Group

Quetico: A Scouting Trip

Participants: 3

John and I had been talking about a return to Canada for some years. I had to cancel out on a 2006 club trip to the Missinaibi Headwaters due to an 11th hour back injury. But, after several successful Boundary Waters trips and some backpacking trips over the past 6 years, I was finally ready again to tackle some really wild and remote location. We did not want to make this a club trip, but foresaw the possibility that we could pick a route that might qualify for a club trip at a later date – thus the idea of a scouting trip.

After investigating several provincial parks, routes and outfitters, we settled on the Pines Loop in Quetico. This very large park is similar in size to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, but only receives one-tenth the annual visitors. Because of the proximity to Ely, MN we were able to rent from an American outfitter and started our journey at Moose Lake. After a 2 hour paddle and check-in at the border we were underway.

It did not take long for the reality of the remoteness to set in. Shortly after we left the border area we saw fewer and fewer canoes and were in the wilds of Canada. There was a little bit of rain off and on that day, but not enough to matter, at least not until evening when we were blessed with a double rainbow – full arches and soooooo awesome.

Each night we would have a fire; Ken assumed the role of getting that going. Dan was our water pumper, and John and I coordinated the cooking and kitchen duties. Because of the remoteness and the uncertainty of easily finding portages and campsites we were up early each morning. A quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and coffee and we were on our way. For the next three days we only saw one other occupied camp.

Our McKenzie maps were mostly accurate, but certainly not 100 percent. Some of the portages were easy to find and some were not. One took us over 90 minutes to locate because it was marked incorrectly on the map – just adding to the adventure. Once we got on the portage trail, well, that was another adventure. There were rocks, downed trees, swamps and, in some cases, the trails were hardly recognizable. You never knew what might be up ahead or how long it would take to finish a portage. Then, there was a portage trail that ended at a beaver dam. Since Kevin Callan had paddled, written and described the route four years earlier, beavers had come in and done their thing. The trail was gone, but in its place has a huge beaver pond that had been created by the likes of a dam we had never seen. So, up and over the dam we went and paddled for perhaps a half mile. Then, another dam for which was a simple lift over. We paddled some more – another dam and another lift over. Finally at the end of the third pond we found the trail out to the next lake.

One of our objectives was to find and photograph as many ancient First Nation paintings as we could. These are called pictographs and are generally found on flat cliff walls facing the east and just up a few feet from the water’s edge. There were either shone on the map or reference was made in our guidebook. We were very successful in locating these.

Although the trip was very remote and extremely rugged it was worth every stumble, fall and scrape as we carried through those portages. At times were we challenged paddling into the wind, which seemed to be the case each time we hit a larger lake. We took it all in stride and stroke. The camaraderie amongst the crew members was great, the meals were good and the weather was the most perfect I’ve ever had for a paddle trip. I’d go back to Quetico in a heartbeat but, then again, maybe the next opportunity will be in Woodland Caribou, Algonquin or up to the French River.

Appalachian Trail – Maryland

The Maryland trip started from the home of Curt (who graciously provided parking) on Saturday, May 26th at 7am with eight members present.

We drove to the Teahorse Hostel in Harpers Ferry, where we would bunk for the night and have a waffle breakfast before our hostel host, Laurel, shuttled us to Pen Mar Park to start our adventure Sunday morning. Once there and gear unpacked, we hiked the quarter mile north to the Mason Dixon line which is a sign beside some railroad tracks on the AT. After taking a few pictures and hiking back to the starting point, we bid our host farewell and continued on with our mission, 40 plus miles of the AT through the state of Maryland.

The first couple of days were very grueling with the heat, humidity and terrain of the trail taking a toll on most of us those first miles. While we met a few through hikers, the first few days of our trip the traffic of north bounders became steadily more prevalent as we progressed south. Most of the through hikers had just come from trail days in the weeks before at Damascus and were just getting back on the trail. Along the trail, we came across many historic sites that we either stopped at for lunch and rest or passed by and took pictures of or all of the above.

The rock overlooks the great campsites, the monuments, the footbridges, and all the beautiful scenery along the way. Oh and not to forget the Flintstones like chairs and campsite just off the trail on that next to last day. At The Old Historic Inn near Dalghgren campsite, we got out of the rain for a few hours and had some adult beverages and desserts. And, for those of you who traveled the trail, we all know by now it is only a quarter of a mile to almost anywhere you want to go or need to get too (well, almost).

Once we arrived back in Harpers Ferry, Thursday, it was a rest day. We also got a chance to use the Hostel washer and dryer to remove some of the stench from our packs before loading them in the van. What a relief that we did not have to smell dirty clothes for that last 9-hour drive home. We also visited the AT Conservancy Headquarters were we looked at books of the through hikers (we found Heidi but didn’t remember when John Bredenkamp did it) in them. Some of us bought shirts, maps, buttons and other souvenirs from the trip and area of the AT.

The next day, Friday, a few hearty souls decided to hike the West Virginia part of the AT while we were there. Ken, Curt, Dennis and Joni left after breakfast for the trail south. When they returned a few hours later, some in the party went to Shepherdsville, WV, one of the oldest towns in the state, while others took the train to Washington DC for some sightseeing which ended in bad weather later in the day and a long train ride back. Curt and Dennis had made the DC trip the day before and knew which connections needed to be made starting out. If the other choice had not been the Battlefield of Antietam there might have been more on the train that day to DC.

We all met some very nice people on the trail and our hostel as well as our own group, and Harpers Ferry was a very interesting as well as an historic town to visit and see how things really all began there at the start of the Civil War and what a strategic site it served in two wars.

We left for home Saturday morning, June 2, after eating waffles at Teahorse, before heading back to Indiana. I think everyone enjoyed the trip but, in the end, “there’s no place like home.” See you on the trail next time.