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  • Monday, September 10, 2007

    North Manitou Island, Part Four
    - Number 8 on my life list.

    Part 4
    Go to Part 12345

    On the next day, I would head to Lake Manitou. I wanted to hike all of the designated trails (and most of the unmanaged side trails), so I headed first out of the way by Paul Maleski’s Place, back down to the village where the trip started.

    The village is the only place on the island with potable water, trashcans, and restrooms (Although I recommend the woods, smells much better). It's also where the residences of the ranger, caretaker, and maintenance man sit (I'm so jealous of these three guys). I then hiked back west to old Frank's Farm apple orchard but couldn't find anything edible.

    September is suppose to be great for picking and eating fruit on the island. There are raspberries, tons of blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, and not to mention lots of fish, clams, leeks, and other things experienced people eat when on the island (I wasn’t confident enough in my culinary abilities to have clams and leeks so I had prepackaged dehydrated food). You could easily live on the island with just foods you find off the trails and in the water if you know what you are looking for.

    Finally after another amazing morning, I arrived at Lake Manitou. It was easily one of the best parts of the trip. No mosquitoes, perfect temperature, the water was as blue and sand as white as Lake Michigan. No motor boats have floated in this water. No pollution has ever been dumped into it either. It was like I had my own pristine private lake in the middle of a largely unknown isolated island.

    After a long swim, which never felt more refreshing after a couple days of backpacking with no shower, I hung my clothes up to dry and once again pulled my cookware and food out of my pack. It doesn't take long for this process to become a routine, a routine that I desperately miss as I write this.

    I boiled some water and prepared ramen noodles and a nice cup of warm filtered lake water. You could argue that serving yourself this meal at home is almost masochistic behavior, but out here for some reason it tasted amazing. The warm filtered lake water here was as refreshing as what a glass of ice cold lemonade would have been on a hot, humid day at home.

    I loved this area so much I decided to hike around the whole lake. I believe it was about two to two and a half miles. The east side of the lake was excellent for technical hiking, at least for an unexperienced person like me. There were lots of hills and things to climb with no bushwhacking. It was a lot of fun going over them with the hiking poles.

    I ran into lots of trouble on the west side when the trail would often end abruptly and I had to figure out a way around an obstacle and where the trail picked up again. I came to a large tree that blocked the trail which was humorously tough to get over so I had to take a picture to remember. This was also the exact moment that hundreds of mosquitoes decided they would try to take me down. I think they figured if they all worked together and hit me from one side at once I'd go down and hit my head and they'd have food for months... and they'd be right.

    I had to throw off the pack and get the bug spray. At this moment I’d like to promote Repel Lemon Eucalyptus bug spray. It’s much safer than Deet and in my opinion works much better. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, without you I’d probably be dead, or at least injured still laying undiscovered in the woods covered in glutinous mosquitoes.

    I’m happy to say I made it out alive but itchy. I headed back towards the east side of the island to search for my final campsite. I wanted to be near the dock for the ride back. I had planned on setting up camp just inside the tree line so I wouldn’t have as far to hike just in case I was late getting up. If I missed that boat I would have had to wait another two days for the next one. They don't make special trips.

    Anyway when I got to the tree line there was a group of young girls (possibly girl scouts) that were so unnaturally loud that I had to hike in another half mile, so I couldn't hear their cackling. I found a decent spot on top of a hill and got my tent up just as the sun set. It was a close call.


    Part 5 >
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