Over the years I have really enjoyed my camping and fishing trips but until the Summer of 2015 I never really entered the world of backpacking. Backpacking appealed to me because I could get further into nature, challenge myself and give me a nice break from work/city life.
After doing some research I had found that most of the gear I did have for camping was way to heavy to carry for 8-10 miles a day. Over the winter of 2014 I did a significant amount of research and started to purchase new gear. Some of my new purchases was a backpack (Osprey Atmos 50), sleeping bag (REI Lumen), stove (Snow Peak LiteMax), hammock (Warbonnet Blackbird), backpacking meals and a little bit of clothing. There was a lot more that I wanted to buy but backpacking gear is expensive!
As spring set in I found a weekend free and decided it was time to head towards the Jordan River Pathway. The Pathway is an 18 mile loop hike near Travers City, MI. I found an excellent place to board my dog while I was in the woods. It is called Meadow Pond Pet Resort. They are located in Mancelona, MI. It really is a great place and is only $25 a night!
After dropping off my dog (who is named Coco) I headed to the trail head. I parked at a place called “Deadman’s Hill Overlook”. I parked and started to get all my things together for my overnight adventure. After about 15 minutes I was ready to head into the woods.
The first half of my hike would take me down into the valley to hike along the river. This section was 8 miles long and part of the North Country Trail. Now 8 miles normally would not be too bad but I underestimated how many times I would be hiking in and out of the valley on my way to the Pinney Bridge campground.
I met a few hikers along the way, saw evidence of wildlife and found that one of my favorite things while hiking is stumbling upon a wild berry patch.
I stopped a few times to fish but the river is really shallow here and there are not that many pools that hold fish. The Jordan River is one of the few places in the lower peninsula that you can catch brook trout.
I stopped a couple of times along the trail to rest, eat some snacks and drink some water. The trail is marked very well so you really don’t need more than a small map you can find online.
I reached the Pinney Bridge campground around 4pm, set up my hammock and took a nap. This campground is a hike in only campground so everyone there was backpacking. I was surprised at how many people were hiking alone. In the middle of the campground was an outhouse, water pump. This is nice because you don’t have to worry about filtering/treating your water.
The campsites are $13 a night. Once you arrive you pick out your campsite, fill out an envelope, put money in envelope and drop the money in a secured box. Each site has a nice fire pit and a picnic table. This worked out nicely as this is where I cooked my dinner that night, read a book I had brought and enjoyed a beer I had brought. After a long day I had no idea how good a warm beer could taste.
The next day I woke up early, made a few cups of instant coffee and started packing everything up. I was back on the trail at about 9am. I had a ten-mile hike to get back to the car. The weather was beautiful and I remember walking through the woods while swinging around my hiking staff and practicing a presentation I had to give to the Provost the next week.
Being my first hike I probably over packed a little bit. By the end of the day I had a lot of pain in my hips and ankles. I made a mental note to hike shorter distances each day and spend more time enjoying camp. There are a few nice views of the valley along this stretch and you will even have the opportunity to stop by a fish hatchery that is just off the trail.
At the end of the day you are welcomed back by a view off of Deadman’s Hill. I could totally understand why my body was in pain. I had learned a lot of this first trip and even managed to take some notes on what to change for my next adventure.