Porkies Trip Early May

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HikerGal
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Porkies Trip Early May

Post by HikerGal » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:06 am

Good Morning -

My daughter and I are planning a 4 day/3 night backpacking trip to the Porkies in very early May. Not my first choice of times to go but I've really wanted to go to the Porkies and the timing works out well; ie - we will be in the "neighborhood". We will be prepared for the cold, possible snow, rain and lots of mud.

The present plan is to start at the Lake of the Clouds, hike the North Mirror Lake Trail, stay at Mirror Lake, hike Correction Line Trail to Big Carp River Trail, stay near Big Carp, hike the Lake Superior Trail, stay somewhere along this trail, and end back at the Lake of the Clouds. The reason for this direction is to make the last day our shortest as we have to then drive back down to the LP.

A few questions that I am hoping someone who is familiar with this park can help with.

Any idea if our route planned will require a number of stream crossings that could be dangerous/impossible? Being spring I am sure the water will be very cold and plentiful. We are planning on taking our kayak ankle high boots. I don't know if the route we have planned will set us up for a failure and I really would prefer to not have to backtrack on day 3 because we have come across an insurmountable stream.

Is there a different route that might have fewer stream crossings? It is very difficult for me to tell by the maps what are significant streams.

Does bear spray really work and is there a specific one that is highly rated? I sure don't plan on having to use it, but would like to know if it is worth having the extra weight; there are mixed reviews on line on its effectiveness. We will take all the usual bear precautions but I am not sure about the spray.

I spoke to the park ranger recently and she noted no ranger has been on the trails yet this year to assess the conditions so she could not tell me too much about the trails' condition. I know there will be updated information when we get there but I'd prefer not to wait until then to adjust our trip itinerary.

Any information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by JerryB » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:49 pm

I cannot vouch for every mile, but I do not think you will have stream crossing problems. I will warn you about mud, and lots of it. A ranger told me the water table is just a few inches below grade, so mud on the trails is a problem. A year or so ago, I took a similar hike, although it may be a tad too short for you. Park at the western end of the Escarpment trail (near Cuyahoga Creek) and take the Escarpment trail to Mirror Lake Trail. Great views on the Escarpment and because it is largely a ridge, less mud. From Mirror Lake, take the Government Peak Trail (again, more elevated) to Lost Lake Trail. Go north and camp a bit north of Trap Falls. That will leave you a short hike out in the morning. You could stay a couple of nights on Mirror Lake and do a day hike to Summit Peak and loop back to Mirror Lake without any backtracking. Finally, I highly recommend renting a cabin, probably on mirror lake. They are great--wood burning stoves, plates, pots, bunks and a fire ring. Also, each cabin on a lake comes with a boat. It is a lot of fun. Enjoy!

I forgot to mention that the parts of the Lake Superior Trail I have been on (not the part you are thinking of) were the worst for mud. I changed course one day because it was so bad.

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by IncaRoads » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:10 pm

HikerGal wrote:We will be prepared for ... lots of mud.
That is an understatement. At least there will be no bugs.

First, let me comment on the stream crossings. Your proposed route will have one (1) or three (3) stream crossings depending on where you camp. The first stream crossing occurs on the Big Carp Trail, approximately 1/2 mile west of the western terminus of the Correction Line Trail. In the past I have been able to find a downed tree nearby to crawl across but you may have to wade across if none are available. Could be deep and cold, but not particularly dangerous. Dry off quickly and thoroughly if you have to wade.

If you plan to camp at the next two available campsites, at Shining Cloud Falls or the other site just downstream of there, you will not need to make another stream crossing. If you want to camp along the Lake Superior Trail, west of the mouth of the Big Carp River, you will have two more stream crossings. One crossing to get to the campsites and one crossing back the next day. The bridge at the mouth of the Big Carp River, part of the Lake Superior Trail, was washed away recently by heavy rains and has not been replaced. The detour is upstream a bit from the mouth of the Big Carp River and is definitely a wade to cross as it is bigger water and could be higher in the Spring. Be forewarned, campsites along Lake Superior may be desireable for the view, but can be extremely cold and raw early in the season.

Secondly, regarding the mud, the worst sections of your proposed route are 1) the northern part of the North Mirror Lake Trail, 2) the western part of the Correction Line Trail, and 3) the entire portion of the Lake Superior Trail from the Big Carp River to Buckshot Landing. The first two locations are river bottom areas and are prone to collecting water. The third location, the Lake Superior Trail, crosses a myriad of very small creeks and drainages along its whole route.

Thirdly, bear spray is not needed. Keep a clean camp and hang your food and smelly items on the bear pole. I believe every campsite now has bear poles. Bears are actively hunted in the area, and if you see one, they typically run in the opposite direction.


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by HikerGal » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:53 am

Thanks all for the very helpful information! I am no longer too concerned about bears or streams.

I would not mind being able to secure a cabin or two along the way but I am told they don't take reservations until May 12. The ranger I spoke with said they are slowly starting to open the cabins and may be able to luck out and get one when we check in but we are not planning on it.

I really would like to hike along the Lake Superior Trail but we will have an alternate route in case we change our minds. OK, I'll be honest here... my daughter loves cold, me not so much. So, it would be me that changes "our" minds. Along the Escarpment Trail is starting to sound pretty appealing and perhaps the more logical choice given the time of year we are going.

Thanks again and I am getting excited for this adventure!


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by treeplanter » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:56 pm

As crazy as this sounds, be on the lookout for woodticks on the Escarpment trail. Three years ago, we went up to the Porkies right after the snow left. We spent the day in the old-growth (mud!), but in the evening, after supper, we took a short hike on the Escarpment Trail. I sat down on some rocks to enjoy the view and noticed something crawling on my pant leg. It was a woodtick. Kind of spoiled the evening.


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by HikerGal » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:55 am

Thanks for the information. I would not have thought about ticks this early in the season so thanks for bringing it up. I have a friend who got very very sick from a tick bite.

I am taking a closer look at the route we are planning. Being on the ridges vs along the lake seems to make more sense this time of year.....

Thanks again everyone!


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by treeplanter » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:21 am

Woodticks like grassy areas. The top of the Escarpment Trail is open with patches of grass interspersed amongst the rock. I’m sure I picked up the woodtick when my pant leg brushed against some of this grass.

You usually don’t find woodticks in the deep forest. If your hiking is mainly in the woods, you should be OK.

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by hooky » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:34 am

If you're worried about ticks, Permethrin on your clothes and your boots will help a lot. They'll be dead before they make it to your skin.


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by HikerGal » Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:56 pm

Thanks for the reminder on the Permethrin. I was not even thinking about ticks this early in the season

With the recent ice/snow storm in this area I am thinking we need to have a route planned where we do not have to cross any streams!


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by treeplanter » Wed May 03, 2017 9:28 am

I wonder if the OP is still going to the Porkies in lieu of all the ice storm damage the park just experienced?

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by jrwiesz » Wed May 03, 2017 10:29 am

Do you happen to have any links to related news articles?
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
Jim DuFresne

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by jrwiesz » Wed May 03, 2017 11:05 am

Nothing looks too out of place on the webcam.

http://www.porkiesfun.com/conditions.htm
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
Jim DuFresne

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by jrwiesz » Wed May 03, 2017 12:20 pm

"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
Jim DuFresne


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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by treeplanter » Wed May 03, 2017 3:38 pm

The Michigan DNR has been posting periodic updates on FB. An incredible amount of damage, especially for elevations greater than 1,000 feet. One inch of ice followed by several inches of snow. The Park staff really won't know how much damage was done until they walk all of the trails.

But 35,000 acres of the Park are old-growth subject to natural processes, which ice storms are. So this year will be a good year to see nature in action.

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Re: Porkies Trip Early May

Post by jrwiesz » Wed May 03, 2017 3:53 pm

Time to head to the Porkies with hand saw and pruners to help. :?:
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
Jim DuFresne

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