After July’s camping experience of 95+degrees with 90% humidity and one hell of a thunderstorm; we had discussed going camping in October and attempt to catch the color change. The decision was going to be between two weekends based around other events in schedules. Early September Bee and I settled on the weekend of the 14-16th and after a handful of searches between the two of us, we settled on Crooked Lake in the Pinckney Recreation Area; which is mostly known as Potawatomi or The Poto, because of the massive mountain bike trail the state park contains. This site has no electricity or running water; so this would cut the RVs and since we were going in October we had hoped this would also cut the amount of fellow campers. Well, we didn’t have any RVs and were actually to see that all the other sites were full both nights. Michiganders trying to get in the last few weekends of good weather, I guess. I can’t say I blame them, we were out there doing the same thing.
Friday the temperature reached a balmy 64 degrees. Now to some this may not seem like a lot, but this is Michigan in October, this is not normal. In fact, the same time last year upper Michigan go the first snow fall of 6″ and lower Michigan got dusted with a few themselves. Usually, October weather is hit or miss with rain and in the low 50s. The amazing part, Friday’s temperatures 63/44 were the coolest tempatures forecasted for the entire weekend. Saturday was suppose to be low 72/60 and Sunday was supposed to be another round of low 70s but with rain. Which Bee had her yoga instructor class and needed to break camp early; I figured this was as good an excuse as any to beat the rain our as long as it didn’t move in overnight.
Friday night did drop into the low 40s according to the weather forecast on my phone. Which, out in the woods, makes me believe it was easily into the high 30s. Plus I slept fully cocooned in my sleeping bag, wearing a pair of my Lulu running shorts, Smartwool socks and a base layer long sleeve top. Some time in the middle of the night I searched around for my Smartwool beanie and put that on too. I silently squealed when the cold knit wrapped around my already cool head. The handful of times my bag got a little too warm and I poked my nose out for cooler air, each time was pretty much an instant shock to just how much cooler the air outside was, definitely not just lower 40s.
Which these cooler temperatures would be why it sounded like our immediate neighbors were attempting to bath a cat…. We learned in the morning was actually a toddler, maybe two years old. Frankly, if I was that kid, I’d be pissed too. Drag me from my warm house and bed to sleep in a small tent with my 8 other siblings.
Saturday morning brought a beautiful crisp fall feeling. Adding in the campfire breakfast of eggs, coffee and some sausage patties. I could definitely stay out here for so much longer than just a few short days.
However about this time my fall allergies decided to go absolutely apeshit, and of course the woman who has exciderine stashed in every damn bag, has absolutely nothing this trip (lesson learned, don’t empty the allergy or headache meds from your Jeep, ever again). So quick trip into town, snagged a couple more bundles of wood while were out an then back for what we planned as a short little hike.
Well, the Crooked Lake trail is a nice little 5.3 mile hike. Nice right? Nope about halfway in Bee and I decide that The Poto trail sounds good now that we know there is a cut off that will cut the 18 mile trail in half for us. Uh-huh. We ended up hiking 13 miles and my Garmin fenix3 tracked the equivalent of going up 78 flights of stairs….total elevation gain during the hike: 1,394 ft. Well then (laughing) that breaks our like 9.6 mile hike on Highland.
The hike around The Poto was absolutely beautiful, I expected nothing less from Michigan, but with the change of color starting and the varieties of deep reds, vibrant yellows and the occasional fire orange; I was no where near disappointed. A few times I almost tripped here and there because I was too busy looking off to the side and not at the tree roots in the path.
Six hours latter and back at our little camp site. My feet felt pretty good, my body was just ready for real food, I had only been munching on trail snacks since breakfast.
Earlier in the week, Bee and I had decided that soup and sandwiches post hike sounded good. Now the tomato bisque and cheese sandwiches didn’t just sound good, they sounded freakin amazing….and they were every bit as wonderful as they sounded the last 3 miles of our hike. Bee had the “man-friend’s” cast iron old fashion sandwich grittle. Which I clearly remember this from growing up and if I ever get my hands on one…
Soup and sandwiches were later followed up with hot chocolate and one round of s’mores. We both laughed because we were not only full, but sugar-ed out. “Being an adult means I can eat as many as I want. As a kid I would have stuffed my face with at least 3. Now, I’m one and done.”
Sunday morning was an earlier start, up just before the sun and breaking down camp trying to beat the rain out. The original plan was to be leaving by 8am, which we just ahead of that plan by 15 minutes. Having packed up and ready to roll out in 45 minutes, not too shabby in my book.
As I rolled the few minutes north into the town of Pinckney -maybe 10 minutes, it started to sprinkle. Within another 10 minutes it was a full on downpour. Sipping my McDonald’s coffee driving through the rain home, I decided to prolonged my too short weekend by taking the back country roads back to Grand Rapids, enjoying the rain and the change of color…and thankful for Bee’s yoga class that forced us to break camp early. I really didn’t want to deal with breaking down a tent in the rain or drying it out in my garage, again.
I’ve been home closing on thirty-six hours and I’m already dreaming of the next trip, looking at what worked this past trip, what Bee and I agreed we needed for the next trip…. Maybe a 4 season tent? Whose in on that? (laughing) I’m not so sure I’ll get Bee to agree to camping in the snow. She did kind of look at me like I was crazy when I jokingly suggested January.
-Inked Amazon 💋💀