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Topic: Porkies in June...first time bpackers.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2014, 5:18 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My husband, two teenage sons, and I have chosen the Porkies for our first backpacking trip this June. I have spent the past 6 months researching and acquiring gear. I think I have a good knowledge base, but no experience...and everyone is depending on me to get this right. (Actually, teenage sons say "just go" and learn from our mistakes.)

I have reserved a yurt in the Union Bay Campground for four nights. My plan is to watch the weather and pick a good night to spend at a backcountry campsite in our tents. We'd like to do this at least twice, staying at the yurt in between those nights. I have chosen two loops with which to do this.

I want to spend only one night out at a time, since this is our first time backpacking. If anything goes wrong, I'd like my vehicle and additional supplies nearby.

Three questions:

1) I read that we cannot leave our yurt for greater than 24 hours. However, does anyone know if we will be charged additional fees if we spend a night in the backcountry?

2) Has anyone actually seen a bear or had a bad bear experience?

3) Am I being ridiculously cautious?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2014, 5:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My Wife and I have been there several times. As for Bears the only thing I saw was some possible bear scat one time. We've never seen a bear there. If you are worried about Bears take some precautions like taking some bear spray. maintaining a very clean campsite, Hanging your food on the bear poles at the campsites or take a Bear Vault container. It's always good to be cautious but not to be paranoid. As to the leaving your Yurt question I guess I don't understand that you are paying for the yurt and then going to go and not use it but instead go and camp at a campsite.
 What loops are you looking at doing there at the Porkies for your backpacking trips?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2014, 7:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I reserved the yurt, because steady rain and/or thunderstorms are not something I'm willing to deal with on my first time out backpacking. Having the yurt allows us the option of just doing day hikes (or not) without committing to an overnight in a tent if the weather is bad. I realize that the money spent on the yurt will be wasted if we spend a night or two in the backcountry, but I want a backup plan.

The loops I have in mind are:
1) Government Peak to North Mirror Lake to Escarpment.
2) Lily Pond to Little Carp to Correction to Big Carp to Cross to Little Carp OR Big Carp to Lake Superior.

I would love one-night loop recommendations. We are all in good physical condition, but again, have never carried packs before, so I'm not sure about the mileage. (If it helps any, I routinely run 4 to 4.5 miles, and the boys can do anything I can do.)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2014, 9:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think for your first time ever backpacking you are biting off more thatn you can do. Yes you may be in great shape and used to running. however that is without a pack weighing around 30-40 lbs on. I suggest if you want to do any of the routes you want to do that you start now going out with a pack on and weight in the pack walking. Start off with just a mile or two and work up from there.
As to the routes some of them are pretty challenging. Yes the mileages may not be that far by the terrain is. Plan on lots of hills, so ups and downs. Plan on lots of wet areas with mud and swampy areas. For instance on the Cross trail you go thru a swampy area for about a mile.
 I would suggest maybe for a First time starting at the Summit Peak Rd parking lot, take Lily pond trail to Little Carp trail to Mirror lake.Camp at Mirror lake then return via Mirror lake trail to Summit Peak Rd parking lot. Yes the mileage isn't that much but for a first time you'll enjoy it more if you come back and at least feel good and not feeling like you never want to BP again.
There are lot of great day hikes you can do like the Escarpment trail out and back or the trails I suggest for your bp trip make a great day hike. Also you could do the Little Carp trail down  by Greenstone falls or take the Pinkerton out to Lake superior and back. Another great area is the Presque Isle area on the West side of the park. Great waterfalls and a nice loop trail for a day hike.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 24 2014, 9:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the suggestions, and you're right. I have no idea how far I can walk with a pack. I'll take another look at the trail map and the mileage. I also like the idea of taking a short hike at home with a pack on just to get a feel for it.

BTW, we discovered Presque Isle last year while vacationing near the UP. We were completely unprepared and got soaked in a downpour, but it's what made us want to go back to the Porkies.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 25 2014, 7:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some of the Loops you were looking at are considered Advanced hiking by  backpacking Meetup Groups. I suggest you start with a shorter one and see how it goes. I also suggest you do some backpacking trips before this one to get the bugs worked out with your equipment. You can always do lots of day hikes there at the Porkies. Go to the Escarpment Overlook and the Summit Peak Overlooks and get a really great view of the park.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 25 2014, 10:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would second QCHIKER's comments.   If you can get out before hand and do a couple tests runs you will be that much further ahead.  One of the better ways to learn is make the mistakes.  You can do all the planning before hand but learning from your experiences will go a lot further.  

In regards to bears.  They usually have ample food supplies in June and are not much of a worry.  However the winter this year, who knows if the snow will be gone by then.   It is always smart to hang food to prevent any issues.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 26 2014, 2:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll join the chorus on not trying to undertake a too difficult hike and recommend dialing the mileage back a little bit.  I'm curious, if you want to spend a night or two out in the woods but are worried about weather, why you didn't reserve a backcountry cabin or two?  Are they all reserved already?

To specifically answer your questions though - 1. I believe you are supposed to pay a separate backcountry permit which is different than camping in the organized campground.  2. Never seen a bear in 4 trips  3. You're not being "ridiculously" cautious but maybe "overly" cautious.  While you can be a distance from "civilization" it's still a state park with some infrastructure (like heavily used trails and rangers) to protect you - heck I even had cell service in spots last fall when we spent three nights out on the trail. And quite honestly, next to weather, I'd add bugs as being a worse threat that time of year.  

As for a very simple overnight to test the water I would recommend stashing your gear at Cuyahoga Creek then parking up at the Lake of Clouds overlook and riding bikes back to the gear or hitchhiking back.  You could then hike down the Escarpment toward Lake of the Clouds and camp on the Escarpment just a mile and a half down and have a short 2.5 mile hike back to the car, but one of the best hikes in the park.  If you start early enough I'd add in an out and back to Trap Falls, very nice section along the river.  Just remember it's dry camping up on the Escarpment so you'll have to carry all your water - not a big deal for a short stretch but always worth mentioning.  There's also only one real first come campsite on the Escarpment Trail and you didn't mention if you're going during a weekend, early June when school might still be in or late June when summer vacations have really started.

There aren't really any simple overnight loops.  Some loops could be done as an overnight but why push yourself and feel miserable after humping it just to make it.  As tempting as it looks to use the Correction Trail to make something work I'd also recommend against it.  When we hiked it last September it was still quite a mucky mess for long distances - I can only imagine what it will be like this year after the heavy snowfall this past winter.  

If you want some nice long dayhikes, don't be afraid to do the out and backs.  The Big Carp Trail is gorgeous, same thing with the Escarpment.  Those could be anywhere from 8 to 18 miles depending on how far you choose to go.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 27 2014, 9:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I want to thank everyone for the continued responses. I have been taking into consideration all of your helpful hints and have been thinking things over. I want to share my alternate plan with you and get your opinions, but I am short on time until this weekend. I'll be back later!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 27 2014, 10:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I thought I’d take a moment to file a trip report for any of you who may be interested.

Although I didn’t make it back to the forum for additional advice, I did purchase DuFresne’s book for more detailed information about the park trails. Based on the advice I had received here and trail descriptions from the book, I planned a three-day loop.

The plan was scrapped the day we arrived thanks to the weather (rain and thunderstorms), the mosquitos (horrific), and the closing of the South Boundary Road the day we had planned to head out.

My original plan was the Lake Superior Trail from Lake of the Clouds to Big Carp to Lake of the Clouds. A week plus of rain had the ranger at the headquarters steering us away from the LST due to “ankle-deep mud the entire way”. She suggested an alternative, which became impossible when the South Boundary Road was closed the next day.

After a day of recon (checking out trail and mosquito conditions), we chose to start at the half-way point of the Escarpment Trail to Government Peak Trail to North Mirror LakeTrail to Lake of the Clouds and then the remainder of the Escarpment. I’m pretty sure we chose to do every steep climb that the park offers. (We were aware of this beforehand, though.)

The first day out was cold. We could see our breath at 3 p.m., which turned out to be beneficial. We camped by Trap Falls, which was pretty swampy due to the rain, but barely a mosquito was out and about. It was warmer the next day, so headnets and 40% DEET were required for our entire trek to our second camp site, the one furthest west on the GPT.  We set up camp, and since my boys hadn’t had enough hiking for one day, we continued on to Mirror Lake without our packs, then back to camp. The third day offered the best weather, so it was an awesome end to the hike on the Escarpment. That was yesterday. I’m still sore today:^)

In total, we hiked the Escarpment Trail (practically twice!), South Boundary Road to Greenstone Falls, Summit Peak, GPT, and North and a bit of South Mirror Lake Tails. Someday, I’d like to go back and try LST, Big Carp and Little Carp. So many trails, so little time.

Luckily, the trip went surprisingly well, it being our first. Thanks to those of you who offered your advice. Happy trails!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 28 2014, 6:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Glad to hear you had a great time and want to go back for more. We've always gone in the fall in September so have not ever really had to deal too much with bugs, just rain and cold weather.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 01 2014, 8:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good job being flexible.  You'll definitely want to head back and hike the Big & Little Carp trails if you liked what you saw.  And I still remember being on the Lake Superior shoreline and watching a thunderstorm roll in - awesome sight.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 29 2014, 5:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Sharpin @ Jun. 27 2014, 10:35 pm)
QUOTE
I thought I’d take a moment to file a trip report for any of you who may be interested.

Although I didn’t make it back to the forum for additional advice, I did purchase DuFresne’s book for more detailed information about the park trails. Based on the advice I had received here and trail descriptions from the book, I planned a three-day loop.

The plan was scrapped the day we arrived thanks to the weather (rain and thunderstorms), the mosquitos (horrific), and the closing of the South Boundary Road the day we had planned to head out.

My original plan was the Lake Superior Trail from Lake of the Clouds to Big Carp to Lake of the Clouds. A week plus of rain had the ranger at the headquarters steering us away from the LST due to “ankle-deep mud the entire way”. She suggested an alternative, which became impossible when the South Boundary Road was closed the next day.

After a day of recon (checking out trail and mosquito conditions), we chose to start at the half-way point of the Escarpment Trail to Government Peak Trail to North Mirror LakeTrail to Lake of the Clouds and then the remainder of the Escarpment. I’m pretty sure we chose to do every steep climb that the park offers. (We were aware of this beforehand, though.)

The first day out was cold. We could see our breath at 3 p.m., which turned out to be beneficial. We camped by Trap Falls, which was pretty swampy due to the rain, but barely a mosquito was out and about. It was warmer the next day, so headnets and 40% DEET were required for our entire trek to our second camp site, the one furthest west on the GPT.  We set up camp, and since my boys hadn’t had enough hiking for one day, we continued on to Mirror Lake without our packs, then back to camp. The third day offered the best weather, so it was an awesome end to the hike on the Escarpment. That was yesterday. I’m still sore today:^)

In total, we hiked the Escarpment Trail (practically twice!), South Boundary Road to Greenstone Falls, Summit Peak, GPT, and North and a bit of South Mirror Lake Tails. Someday, I’d like to go back and try LST, Big Carp and Little Carp. So many trails, so little time.

Luckily, the trip went surprisingly well, it being our first. Thanks to those of you who offered your advice. Happy trails!

Glad you still had a good time.  My buddy and I went during  the week of June 11th.  We had a good time.  Our first time as well.  I recommend full length clothing and mosquito head net.  Made our stay much more enjoyable.  I saw many of people without it and couldn't imagine how they were feeling after even a single day on the trail.
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