The Great Birthday Backpacking Adventure: Day 2

Day 2 of the three day, two night backpacking trip in Michigan’s Upper peninsula was my favorite day. I suspect that having slept, albeit somewhat poorly, for close to eleven hours the night before played a large part in that but it was also a day of fun discovery.

As mentioned I did not sleep well the first night; it was totally my own fault. Both my boyfriend and I were exhausted at the end of the first day. When I went to bed I was seriously dreading waking up and putting that heavy, heavy pack back on my aching shoulders. There was a slight feeling of What the fuck did I get myself into? and I was so tired that I decided against changing into the insulated underlayer I had brought to sleep in. I rationalized that it wasn’t really that cold and my new sleeping bag is rated to 35 degrees, almost freezing. I’d be fine sleeping in my capris length running tights, a tank top, & thin moisture wicking long sleeve shirt. I may have even taken my socks off…

Big mistake, folks. Big one!

I woke up maybe an hour or two after crashing because I was cold. So so cold!

I was shivering and struggled to get back to sleep. A wise person would have taken that opportunity to get out of that inefficient sleeping bag and put on warmer clothes. That same wise person would have then slept peacefully the rest of the night.

Apparently I am not a wise person. I continued to toss and turn and attempt to curl up into a ball inside my sleeping bag for warmth. I kicked my boyfriend who was totally unaware of my misery in his own warm bag. I even woke him up once or twice to tell him my feet were freezing. He didn’t even remember it in the morning. He may have been as exhausted as I was.

We didn’t start moving around until close to nine that morning; it took an hour to prepare breakfast (oatmeal, a little dehydrated fruit and Starbucks via), get cleaned up and our campsite packed back up. When I hoisted the pack on I was happy to discover the dread from the night before was gone. In fact, I felt good and ready to go see what was out there. Our goal for day two was to get as many miles in as we could while still taking the time to soak up our surroundings and enjoy the experience.

All fresh faced & caffeinated for the second day of hiking

Once again our hike for the day started in the woods but it was immediately more interesting than the first part of the first day. Pretty early on we came across an old car smack in the middle of the forest.

It very clearly had been there quite a while. The names and dates scratched in its rust patched surface dated back to the early 1980’s. Hundreds of explorers had left their mark somewhere on the vehicle. My guy and I spent a good fifteen minutes looking over the car and gawking like the tourists we were. A couple other hikers passed us by; I think they had a nice little laugh at our enthusiasm. (But really it was so cool!)

The next exceptionally cool thing we came upon was the gorges. And boy were they gorgeous!

Basically they’re a rather large cliff/rock formation/mini cave in the woods. So of course we climbed them.

At this point we were somewhere in the Beaver River Basin area. Everything was extreme green with great views of Lake Superior and the many rivers and small streams that feed into it. The day was near perfect, sunny & cool. It topped out around sixty degrees that day with most the morning in the low to mid fifties. We had lunch at this beautiful rustic campsite and then continued on to spry falls. And let me say we did not take enough pictures.

The path continued right along the coast and the elevation kept increasing, sometimes gradually sometimes abruptly.

We stumbled on a seagull’s nest on the edge that we could have walked right up to.

Yet another cool feature of day two was castle rock.

We approached it from the higher side then climbed down around it until we reached the beach.

The white water on the right in the above picture is the river shown below.

The beach was a perfect spot for a snack and a mid afternoon rest. We took our shoes off and waded in the cold water of Lake Superior.

Okay, I went in. My boyfriend more dipped his toes than waded. The cold water felt great on my tired legs and slightly sore feet. The river flowing into the lake was warm and more my guy’s speed. To get off e beach we had to climb a sort of ladder of logs set into the ascending side of the sand dunes surrounding it.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with amazing upclose views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Towards the end of the day we had to choose which of the many overlooks and side paths to explore. There was so much to see here and all of it was phenomenal.

Eventually we got back into the woods and started counting down the miles to our campsite goal. Because my Garmin battery was low the day before and I had not tossed the charger for it in the backpack, I wasn’t tracking our miles on day two. We had estimated the distance to the Mosquito River campsite. While that did not sound appealing the next campsite was miles away. Apparently that made it a popular destination, that and it being part of a ten mile hiking loop. There weren’t any designated spots in the Mosquito River camping area so we pitched our tent in a random spot between trees.

And let me just say, Mosquito River was not a misnomer. Unfortunately. That night was the first time the whole trip that the bugs were bad and they were probably no where near as bad as they typically are or would be just a few weeks later. By bugs I mostly mean mosquitoes. They were plentiful. At least the campsite had easy options for keeping the bears away…

…or at least not attracting them. There were signs posted telling of a bear being sited in the area. The only interesting wild life we saw was a deer that literally walked through our camp site.

At the end of the second day I was tired, we had hiked far, but I still no where near as exhausted as I was the day before. That night I made better choices and changed into the warm sleep clothes I brought. And I slept like a baby…

Actually, better than a baby, like someone who had hiked 17 hilly miles carrying a 25lb pack.



It takes a certain amount of tenacity to be a runner. Running, especially distance running, is a mental as well as a physical game.
There are some amazing stories about people who overcome great challenges to run.
I am not one of those people; this is not one of those stories.
The only thing I have to overcome is my own tendency to self sabotage.
But I am very good at self sabotage.

March is usually when I start to run more, to go from the sporadic whenever-the-weather-allows running of winter to regularly running three to four times a week. This year I did a 5K early in the month and then wanted to spend the rest of March on the couch buried in blankets with a mug of ice cream…and maybe another of coffee…and definitely a third of vodka…and some pizza…or maybe pizza rolls….
And while I didn’t totally give into those urges I did make a lot of excuses not to run.
Two weeks ago my post winter/pre spring inertia was at it’s peak. I wasn’t working and didn’t have much going on that week, yet I only ran one time the entire (Thursday to Thursday) week.
Each day I told myself I should run, tried to convince myself that I wanted to run…and then I didn’t.
Coincidentally the whole week I was in a slightly bad, irritated mood.
These are the times I really should be running but find it hard to get myself out there and do it. I know a run will make me feel better, more calm, more focused, happier but I still resist.
See, self-sabotage.

By Thursday I had had it with myself.
Enough of this ridiculous self-induced crabbiness, it was time to break out of the haze of laziness and go for a run….but I just didn’t have time that day.
No, really, I had stuff going on and legitimately did not have time.
I did, however, make a plan and set some goals to get myself back on track. 
Right now I’m just aiming to get in at least ten miles a week. See, I told you, not very inspirational.
I’m just striving for consistency for starters.

I decided my weeks would go from Friday morning to Friday morning to kind of match my week on/week off work schedule. On my non-working weeks this really shouldn’t be a problem. On my work weeks I’ll have to put some effort into meeting even this small goal. It’s one of downsides of working third shift.
Last week, a work week, I met my goal….but just barely.
I ran that Friday morning and then Tuesday evening. Wednesday evening I really wanted to run. It was sunny and warm. I really wanted to run.
But I was averaging five hours of sleep a day for the 6th day in a row. I was just too tired.
So instead I resolved to run right after work Thursday morning. For some additional motivation I decided I’d go to my favorite State Park.
I used to go to this park at least twice a week for a couple years. I run faster there, even when I’m tired, and still end up feeling refreshed and renewed.
Running there is like coming home after a long trip; it had been quite a while.
When Thursday morning rolled around it was NOT warm and sunny. It was 33 and overcast with a chance of rain. A few weeks ago thirty-three would’ve been warm. When it was sixty degrees and sunny just days ago thirty-three is cold.
On top of that I had sunny & warm in my head when I grabbed running gear the night before. Instead of my usual cool weather layers, hat, gloves, & whatnot I had long shorts, a long sleeve tee, & my unlined water resistant jacket.
At this point my resolve was waivering.
I told myself I could go home, put on warm clothes, and run around there but I knew that wouldn’t happen.
I thought about going to the store first and buying a pair of sweatpants but I’d likely end up wandering around the store until I was out of time.
Then I said No to the excuses and overcame my usual self-sabotaging tendencies.
I told myself to suck it up & run.
And I did.
And it was ….cold and almost miserable.
Less than half a mile in the paved path suddenly looked like this: 


Holy icy running, Batman!

Just after the mile & a half mark it started to drizzle.
But I did it, four miles of it.
Somehow it still ended up being a little faster & a little more satisfying than my usual run.
There’s nothing quite like coming home.