How far can I go?

Each time I go backpacking solo I seem to push myself a little harder. At times it can be a battle to overcome the mental and physical urge to stop and make camp. I never believed how much punishment my ankles and feet can take or how painful they can become.

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I usually start my journey from Red Bridge trailhead.

I again was visiting the Manistee River Trail/North Country Trail (NCT) 21-mile loop hike. The result on this day was a new record for me, 18 miles up and down the Manistee River. It is amazing to me how comfortable my hiking shoes and backpack have become. I left my Chaco sandals at home on this trip and could really feel the difference in pack weight.

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Just one of the many great overlooks on the Manistee River Trail

I really wanted 20 miles but could not go any further. I was on the NCT side of the river which is much more peaceful (less people). I had brought a book but could not even pick it up I was so tired. I was perfectly content in staring into the woods and enjoying the sounds of nature.

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After 11 miles it was time to cross the suspension bridge to the NCT

I did manage to set up my hammock, make dinner and a fire. I was eating 2.5 servings of Mountain House Chili Mac for dinner and enjoying the water I filtered out of Eddington Creek. I usually only carry about a liter of water on me but experience had taught me this stretch requires more. If you head in a counter clockwise direction on the loop make sure you filter and carry about 2 liters of water to finish up the trail. There are no water sources until Red Bridge.

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You weave around the ravines on the NCT side of the trail.

My television for the night was watching hundreds of lightning bugs (more than I have ever seen before) flicker on and off in the forest.

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The moring fog was stunning.

Since I only had about 3 miles the next morning to hike back to my car I was able to take my time and snap a few pictures of the morning light burning the fog away.

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I love waking up early.

This brings my total backpacking mileage this Summer to about 93 miles. 62 of which were on the North Country Trail. My goal for the Summer is to complete the Hike 100 (mile) Challenge on the NCT. Only 1,500 people completed it last year.

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Time to exit from the forest and come back to the “real world”.

I will be taking it easy the next few weeks as I prepare for my trip out West. If all goes according ot plan I will be visiting Denver, Mesa Verde, Bears Ears, Jasper, Banff and Glacier National Monuments and Parks.

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