Day 13: Wilderness State Park to Mackinaw City

7-18_soggytrailI’m sipping coffee in a cute little bookstore in Mackinaw City, trying to relax myself from the inside out. I walked from Wilderness State Park this morning through truly disgusting conditions. Last night’s storm showed no signs of stopping this morning so I sucked it up and headed out in the driving rain. The trail was so flooded that, for awhile, I was literally walking through a river.  I was mad at the world in my soggy shoes. The rain finally stopped but I’m soaked through.

I found this little shop that sells coffee and postcards I’m sitting here in my muddy gear, trying to act like I belong in a cafe. There are two guys in the back dressing up for an old-timey tourist photo in costumes that include dresses, fans, and long white gloves so I guess I’m not the only self-conscious person here.

Mackinaw City is my last stop in the Lower Peninsula- I’m thrilled to be so close to the mysterious wilderness of the Upper Peninsula! In my mind the UP possesses some quality of “otherness” that is very wild, very remote and very natural. On the opposite end of the spectrum is historical, car-free Mackinac Island- just a ferry ride away from where I am now. My memories of the place are not flattering, I remember the entire island as a tourist trap from which there is no escape. The air as a mixture of extremely sweet fudge and horse dung. I prefer the smell of walking on pine needles (though don’t have the right to cast judgement about smells in my current state.) Anyway, I just think Mackinaw is unfortunate portrayal of Michigan’s version of culture.

packageI got my first real re-supply package! I felt like such a legitimate backpacker walking into the post office and saying I was there for a general delivery package. Honestly, I don’t really need most of what it contains because I am in a town with grocery stores and whatnot but it is exceptionally exciting. In addition to food, the package also contains my maps for the next leg of the trail, a new book and some torn-out pages from the North Country Trail “guide book.” I’m going to mail back my last book and my long-sleeve “daytime” shirt, which is super light but still feels frivolous.

I have a few decisions to make: where do I sleep tonight? I could get a hotel or walk to a campground. The main issue at stake is badassness- a hotel is clearly wimpier than a campsite and more expensive at that. Then again, I am wet and gross, the campsites are all a few miles out of town in the wrong direction, and it would be nice to get a shower before I head into the wilds of the Upper Peninsula. I think I’ll just get a hotel as long as the price is reasonable, I deserve it and there’s more rain in the forecast. Ok that wasn’t so hard.

The next question has to do with how I should travel to the UP. The most direct way there is to take the Mackinaw Bridge but, unfortunately, walking across it isn’t allowed. I considered just walking it anyway but it’s 5 miles long and there is no pedestrian lane so that would be truly stupid. The North Country Trail guide book has been almost completely useless to me so far, in part because it covers so little of the trail and in part because I keep forgetting to look at the pages I brought with me until after I’ve passed the relevant section. Anyway, the one good thing I’ve gotten out of it is that I can call a number and get a $2 ride across the bridge- that’s the cheap and direct way. The expensive and scenic option is to buy a round-trip ferry ticket to the island, taking the second leg of the trip into St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula side. To make it worthwhile I would hang out on the island for the day but not really hike. I’m just not sure if I’m willing to play the tourist and have another low-mileage day.

That’s enough thinking for now, I think I’m warm enough to seek out some ice cream- Mackinaw Island Fudge!

Continue to the next entry in the series here: Day 14: Mackinaw City to Straits State Park

Go back to the last entry in the series here: Day 12: Cross Village to Wilderness State Park 

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