Once again there was a graduation party a week before the Fourth of July, so, much like last year there was nothing better to do than to head to the Cabin before going to Port Austin for the fourth. The trip ran from 26 June to 2 July. This year the bugs were bad, quite bad. In particular the mosquitoes were voracious. Standing outside for even a few seconds meant being surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes that would then follow you into the Cabin or into the canopy. On the other hand, the weather was mostly good. The temperatures mostly remained cool during the day and were very comfortable for sleeping at night.
The main plan for the trip was to do some hiking mostly to add the snowmobile routes to the map. Existing data for these routes is extremely poor. UP443 is incorrectly marked as the old path following the fork off McCloud Grade on the way to the Lucky Buck and UP88 did not follow actual roads on the segment between Old Seney and UP443. The bad bugs meant that almost the only activity I could do was hiking, so that worked out well.
I drove up from a hot, humid Detroit area to a cool, breezy, and very buggy Cabin. The mosquitoes were clearly happy at my arrival, collecting around me as soon as I got out of the car. The Cabin was in good shape. Inside needed the usual sweeping out after months of not being used. There was again much debris near the first stanchion in the main part of the Cabin. There was also not much sign of mice except in particular locations, such as the counter under the pantry where the water is stored. (I'm not sure why this location was preferred by them.) However, a wine bottle was knocked down, indicating that a (probably red) squirrel gets in and runs along the wall containing the front door.
The standard tasks of cleaning up the Cabin, removing the plastic, getting the refrigerator going, and priming the pump (again a standard task!) were performed. I also set up the canopy in its usual location and put up my hammock near the creek. I slept in the hammock every night, as is common during trips when the temperature does not fall too low at night. Once everything was set up I had my usual shot of Krupnik, this time Krupnik that I had made.
With the main work done I did a little bit of mapping and hiking. The creek near the Cabin has two sources near McCloud Grade which is not mapped correctly. The water was relatively low so I hiked along both these branches to get a gps track (that was used to update the information in OpenStreetMap, just as I did for my all my hikes). This included following the creek a short distance on the other side of McCloud grade where I discovered an old beaver dam and a (stagnant) beaver pond. Despite being so close to the Cabin, I do not remember having seen this before! It being one of many, many sources of mosquitoes and being out of the breeze the mosquitoes were too much, so I did not follow it further. It is something worth exploring in more detail.
On the road the breeze kept the mosquitoes and flies more at bay so I hiked up to the "new" bridge on Old Seney to properly map out where the asphalt segments lie. Here I discovered the site of the burned down cabin had been cleaned up, only an area marking out its base remains, and a memorial has been set up near the site.
The day was cool and breezy, excellent weather for a hike. I had planned a long hike along UP443, to UP88, to Old Seney, to McCloud Grade, and back to the Cabin to finally learn where these routes actually ran and so I could get them onto the map. The breeze kept the bugs down while walking along the open roads. Even so, stopping or entering more sheltered areas meant the mosquitoes would congregate. Due to this I mostly just hiked without stopping for too many pictures. (This was also true for most the rest of the trip.)
One noteworthy occurrence was the sighting of a doe on the side of UP88 in some tall grass. Naturally it ran when it saw me. It turns out it had a fawn hidden in the grass which I only saw after it started running too. Amusingly, the doe started running in one direction and the fawn started running in another. This forced the doe to turn around and run in the same direction as the fawn. As I kept walking, I discovered that the deer had looped through the woods and came out along the road further along. I came upon them again standing next to the road. Again they ran, this time the doe into the woods and the fawn along the road away from me. Naturally the doe had to turn around and follow the fawn. Eventually the fawn will have to learn.
I did also encounter a few people in ATVs. There were more people up than I was expecting, though most of them were on trails south of McCloud grade. I also discovered that one way to get people to wear a mask (or some form of face covering) is to put them in an open ATV on a dusty road.
After hiking UP88 to Old Seney I headed back to the Cabin. Despite driving this every time I come into and leave the Cabin, I was surprised to notice the number of camps along Old Seney. In particular I discovered the Tri Lakes camp I had not paid attention to when driving. In total, this was a good 16 mile hike.
The long hike lead to an early evening. I was in the hammock by 8:30 PM.
Today was warmer and less breezy. Again I hiked, this time along the old UP443. The lack of a breeze made the bugs even worse. In particular the flies were out and buzzing around, though fortunately being covered pretty much head-to-toe and even wearing gloves at times meant that I did not get bitten.
Even though I "knew" where old UP443 went and where it met up with the new branch of UP443 I decided to hike it. This also is the path along which I have been finding railroad spikes in recent years. This time I "only" found 3. The "ponds" along the road that are ever present did seem smaller than usual. The one large one that fully covers the road and extends into the woods on both sides was not too difficult to get around.
On the way back I took the road that leads to Old Seney. When coming from the Cabin this means turning right at the tee instead of continuing to follow the old UP443 that has a sign directing you to the left. I have not hiked this road in many years. It goes past chained "driveway" to a private camp I had discovered a few years ago. (As far as I know this camp is unnamed.) This road is actually in pretty good shape and would be easier to drive than the segment along UP443 to McCloud Grade.
Rain was threatening at the end of the hike so I hurried back, just beating out a bit of hail, and then rain, by a few minutes. The rain brought cooler temperatures, which was nice. On the other hand, the rain limited what else could be done. Sitting inside the Cabin or in the canopy was challenging. Enough mosquitoes followed me into the structures, even with trying to be careful, that they were still able to be annoying. Due to this I just gave up and was in the hammock by 7:30 PM!
Despite the early night, I stayed in the hammock until about 10 AM! The night had been nice and cool, getting into the 40s (°F) making it great for sleeping. The day remained cool with a bit of a breeze which was again good weather for a hike. I hiked to the end of McCloud Grade stopping at Atwood Camp and walking past the waterholes where Ted's truck got stuck. Between the Cabin and the Lucky Buck I saw a coyote and, a bit later and further up, a deer on the road. The end of McCloud Grade is more like what the whole road used to be like before it became the "major highway" it is now. There is also a survey marker near where the road ends. This is the second one I know of in the area (the other is near the new bridge on Old Seney).
Heading back I did a little exploring of new roads. For the most part I had avoided hiking on logging roads, expecting them to be even more bug ridden. The bugs were not too bad, instead, hiking on tall grass covered trails a day after it had rained meant hiking with wet feet and legs. Even so, I was able to map out a few new roads including another connector from McCloud Grade to UP443. In the end this was only an 8 mile hike.
The day promised to be warm and rainy. Due to this I decided to stay at camp. It was cooler inside the Cabin and by keeping the kitchen door closed and killing as many mosquitoes as possible inside the Cabin, it was fairly pleasant. I used the time to do some cleaning. This included cleaning and reorganizing a few of the shelves. There are many fresh packs of cards just waiting for euchre players. I also mopped the kitchen floor, three times. Even after the third time the mop water was dirty, but the floor did look much better. The ready availability of clean water we now have from the pump made it possible to clean the floor at all, let alone so thoroughly.
Once again the temperature cooled and a bit of breeze came up. This again made decent weather for a hike. This time I hiked out to C.O.P.S. camp. From there I headed to North Lake. I had never been there before and the roads on the map were woefully incorrect. Even with a gps track I am not sure of the path I followed. In the end I did make it and it was definitely worth it. The lake is beautiful. Further, I came across the only (as far as I know) cabin on the lake. It is in an incredible location: with a clear view overlooking the lake. The shallows by the cabin were full of tadpoles.
The hike back was along UP443 and old UP443. The "ponds" along old UP443 had grown noticeably due to the rain two days earlier. The large one was much harder to get around, requiring a pretty serious excursion into the woods. I also came across another doe crossing the road ahead, this time with two fawns. In total this was a 12 mile hike.
The evening was spent closing up camp. I took down the canopy and closed up as much of the Cabin as I could with the intent of getting an early start in the morning.
Departure day had arrived with a long drive to Port Austin ahead of me. Due to the bugs there was not much point in sticking around the Cabin doing nothing. Further, driving on the Fourth of July weekend was a concern, even though I would be anti-commuting for most of the trip. A quick breakfast and finishing closing up the Cabin meant I was on the road by about 8:45 AM.
Despite the bugs it was another wonderful trip. All the hiking was great and will lead to significant additions to the map. I already have plans for the next trip.