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Wilderness Tripping: Winter Backpacking Trip
   Pigeon River Country State Forest
   Cornwall Creek Flooding area
   Otsego & Cheboygan County(s)
   Vanderbilt, Michigan
   December 2-5, 2005


Highlights from a crosscountry,
winter, backpacking trek
through the expansive
Pigeon River Country State Forest

December 2-5, 2005


By C. A. Susan
   Ann Arbor, Michigan
   Copyright 2005

View Gail Staisil's photo album from this trip

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Favorite memories from this 4-day winter trek:

  • Eating around the fire at our lunch stop on Friday, our first day out.

  • The pot support (for hanging a pot to boil water) over the lunchtime fire: a big, long, branch supported two-thirds of the way along its length by a thick stump - a "pot crane" as Michael calls it.

  • Along the same lines, the artistic nature of the three bent and twisted branches that Mary used to make her traditional tripod for hanging her dinner pot over the fire on Friday night.

  • Friday night's campsite along Cornwall Lake: a wonderful point surrounded by water on three sides (not to mention a cold, clear sky full of stars that turned into a beautiful sunrise the next morning).

  • Chris hiking in on Friday night, guided to our site by his navigation skills and, eventually, by Michael's strobe light hung from a tree just outside of camp.

  • Collecting firewood by headlamp on Friday night in the woods beyond our campsite.

  • Building and tending my first wood fire in my homemade hobo stove (a coffee can with an oval-shaped hole cut into its side, through which sticks can be fed to keep the fire going).

  • Filling my water bottle from a hole cut in the lake ice, and hearing the clink of the thin ice as it broke around its edges.

  • Hearing the coyotes yipping and calling in the night.

  • Land nav on Saturday morning when no one asked what azimuth I was following or double checked my plan. :)

  • Group photos at the overlook, and looking back out over the land through which we had traveled and Cornwall Lake where we had camped the previous night.

  • Looking at Milton's simple, functional homemade outdoorwear.

  • Bushwhacking through the swamp late Saturday afternoon in our first attempt to reach our night's bivouac goal: the high ridge along the east side of the Black River.

  • Enjoying the view at dusk on Saturday from our campsite on the ridge overlooking the Black River.

  • The golden glow of Gail's shelter after dark on the ridge.

  • Hiking out on Sunday: checking out the northern end of the ridges beyond our campsite, bushwhacking through the wooded swamp behind Chris who knocked snow showers onto my head from the trees. :)

  • Meeting a local hunter, off trail in the bush on our last day, and sharing the hike out with him.


And my favorite moment of the trip:

  • Seeing that snow covered hill rising out of the swamp on Saturday, finally (which meant we had made it to our camp site - just cross the little stream, then up onto the ridge - yea!).


A list of trip memories would not be complete, however, if I did not include the two low points of the trip:

  • Mary having to leave us early because of her back injury - we missed her. :(

  • In our bushwhack through the swamp on Saturday, hearing Michael call back to stop because we were being turned back by impassable conditions. I was crestfallen. :(

All in all, though, my trip memories are fine ones that will stay with me for years to come.




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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.

 — John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

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