Posts Tagged With: Backpacking

Fall Hike

The chance of enjoying a gorgeous autumnal vision and sipping french press coffee on a cliff overlooking foggy winding river and colorful trees seemed irresistible. We gave in to the urge to return to this hilly, curvy, and scenic trail and hike in the midst of falling leaves. It was early fall in Michigan after all, a beautiful time of the year to go for a hike.

I came to a realization during the trip. The desire to experience nature’s hidden beauties up close demanded the willingness to do some work. For this one, it required a 23-mile hike with a backpack in a forest and sleeping in a tent in torrential rain and thundering sky, that shook the ground beneath the sleeping bag and pad, for two nights. It also asked for the determination to keep going despite the rain and a sunny attitude even when the feet and shoulders started to throb. Still, efforts did pay off.

Manistee River Trail MI 1

Manistee River Trail 2

Manistee River Trail 3

Manistee River Trail 4

Manistee River Trail 5

Manistee River Trail 6

Mushroom Manistee River Trail 7

Manistee River Trail 8

Manistee River Trail 9Manistee River Trail 10

Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Location: Michigan Manistee River Trail

Some of the backpacks: Deuter and Osprey 

Some of the sleeping bags: Lafuma and Sierra Design

Sleeping pads pump by Camp-Tek 

Shoes (waterproof, trail/hiking): Columbia and Merrell

Check out REI for more cool backpacking/hiking gears

Some rain gears: CampmorMarmotOutdoor ResearchMountain HardwareIntegral Designs

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Categories: Michigan Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Backpackers Getaway: North Manitou Island – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Late September breeze carried a little chill, a preview of what’s to come in the coming months. The blazing sun balanced the cool air and offered a perfect hiking weather for us that weekend. Trees on the outer part of North Manitou Island have begun to change colors. Inland, the leaves stayed green like refusing to accept that summer was over. After the hour-long ferry ride to the island and checking in with the ranger, the three of us sat on the grass and enjoyed turkey pita sandwiches for lunch. We had packed enough food and snack for the weekend. We were in the wilderness, which means no restrooms, showers, let alone restaurants. The ferry would be back to pick us up on Sunday, two days away. From where we sat, we could see other backpackers, all came in on the same ferry, eagerly dispersed into the wilderness, racing to get to their solitary and exploratory mode. Seemed like we all wanted to feel that the non-populated island was our own playground for the weekend.  

After lunch, we headed south on the trail. About three miles later, we took a break on a beach. I wanted to stay there and just sleep under the sun. 

My guy wanted to have one more backpacking trip before winter returned with its cold air and long nights. The dreadful thought of winter made me jump at the offer to spend two nights out in the wilderness, sleep under starry sky, walk in the woods, and take naps on a beach.

A novice in this whole backpacking-universe I find myself learning about new places, the art of exploration, and the technology that supports this hobby (the latter: my guy’s biggest attraction to this backcountry activity). I never realized that there were many little islands in Lake Michigan. Maybe this is why people keep saying that  hobbies would do us good: they open our eyes to things we hardly notice before. 

North Manitou Island of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore offers a friendly terrain for hiking enthusiasts. The scenic panorama of Lake Michigan, endless white sandy beach wrapped around the island, and a manageable trail for outdoors lovers make this tiny island an ideal place for a backpacking getaway. 

After hiking for nine miles, we found a perfect spot on the southwest part of the island to camp that night. With the three of us, setting up the tent took less than five minutes. I prepared the sleeping pads/bags inside of the tent while the men got some water from the lake to filter and then drink. Not long after that we sat around a tiny but powerful gas stove heating up our dinner: beef rendang and rice. I had cooked them the night before, put them separately in zip lock bags, and froze them. By dinner time, all we had to do was boil hot water in a pot, drop the food bags in it, and let them warm up—a trick my guy taught me a while ago. We had a fantastic dinner overlooking sunset by the lake.

the boys

In the morning, we walked six miles northeast toward the village where the ferry would come to pick us up the next day. By this time, every muscle of my feet sent painful signals to my brain. Other than that the hike was far from arduous. Thankfully, our friend Dod’s hilarious stories about his college friends distracted me from the pain. At lunch time, we all shared sliced corned beef deli meat with pepper jack cheese, sliced honey roasted turkey deli meat, pita bread, hummus-to-go, and herbed olive oil that we put in a tiny little bottle. Pretty gourmet wouldn’t you say? 🙂

We arrived at the village campground in mid afternoon. Once we set up our tent, we had a second lunch! It was amazing how ravenous we got from being outdoors all the time, well that…and walking for miles with heavy backpacks. We prepared chicken and vegetable soup. My guy mixed the dehydrated vegetables soup mix with boiling water, added dried beef stock, and sliced chicken (chicken in a pouch). After our second lunch, we decided to do more hiking toward the northeast side of the island. We moved a lot faster without our backpacks. By sunset, we finished another five miles of the trail and went back to our site. A total of 20 miles in two days.

The menu for dinner that night: pasta and meatballs with marinara sauce. Dod boiled the pasta and heated up the frozen meatballs and marinara sauce. Having hot meals during a backpacking trip always felt luxurious. I also think that the wilderness never failed to intensify the taste of food. Everything became incredibly delicious, even the add-boiling-water-to-the-pouch freeze-dried meals we had. Maybe it was my brain’s way of being grateful to find something comforting in such a rugged and undomesticated environment.  

The air got a lot cooler that night. We met a few backpackers at the community fire pit and shared our hiking experience with each other before turning in for the night. The bright full moon illuminated the area. Even inside of the tent.

On Sunday morning, the ferry came back to pick up all of us backpackers. At exactly 11AM, as scheduled, we all boarded the ferry to return to Fishtown Dock in Leland, MI and then drove home. Despite of my aching feet, shoulders, and back, I was happy we did this trip. It was a perfect way to close our hiking season for the year. 

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Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Thanks for reading. Until the next adventure!

Categories: Hiking, Michigan Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Into the Mountain: A Childhood Dream

(Adventure Out West Series)

Towering mountains stand close together like they are guarding something precious behind them. They remind me of city skyline reaching out to the sky, only in a much more incredible magnitude. The peaks look sharp like shark’s teeth chewing off white clouds that try to cover their magnificence look. Birds’ squawks bounce off the grey and rough Teton walls. A moose sneezes as we walk by. The animal glances at us, looking uninterested, then continues feeding itself. We laugh and keep on hiking toward Lake Solitude. Rocky trail demands my attention.  I keep my head down to watch my step. Up the hill is the only way to go. Walking with a 15-pound backpack is definitely not easy, especially in the mountains!

That morning we woke up at Cascade Canyon, up in the mountains.  The sun tried to peak from behind the mountains as we enjoyed breakfast. We had a long hike ahead of us. The five-mile hike we did the day before would be nothing compared to the 11-mile we were about to do. Novices in hiking in the mountains, we overestimated our powers. I know I did.

We spent the night before enjoying dinner and wine under the star-filled sky. The spot we found was nestled in between mountains and close to a creek. Songs of Gilberto Santarosa played from my cellphone mixed with the sound of water flowing from the creek serenaded the night. The stars made the sky glow. I had never seen that many stars in my life and forgot about the arduous hike.

This backcountry trip at the Grand Teton National Park was probably the most challenging part of our 8-day adventure out west. The four of us drove after spending a night at Black Hills, South Dakota, and hiked our way to Harney Peak. We arrived at our cabin at Colter Bay late at night and prepared what’s needed for the backcountry. I was nervous and eager at the same time. The trip was our first backpacking trip in the mountains, home of many bears. I had no idea what kind of terrain we were going into.

Growing up in Surabaya, one of Indonesia’s most populous cities, I remember going to the foothills of Mount Penanggungan just outside of the city with my family in the weekends. My parents love the fresh and cool mountain air. We would stay at a local hotel, swim, and hang out together. I’d always plead with my dad to go up into the mountain. He’d say that we are already in the mountain.  I would argue that I could still see the mountain, so I knew we were not up there yet. I was so intrigued. There was something mystical yet majestic, about these mountains, especially the ones in Indonesia as they sit on the Pacific Ring of Fire. I was always so fascinated by these earth’s towers and their magnitude.

The grueling terrain finally takes us to Lake Solitude. The water stands perfectly still, giving the mountains, clouds, sky, and birds a chance to see their reflections. Silence radiates and echoes all over.  The rocky and rugged panorama of the surrounding gets softened by the quiet body of water. The scene dwarfs us. I think I could spend hours here, just to sit and stare at the beauty. But a few minutes later I am reminded that we all still have to walk for another eight miles back to Jenny Lake and catch a boat to go back to our cabin. I don’t remember how long Jeff carries my backpack as we descend  but I do remember wanting to cry and call it quit. I think I may have satisfied my childhood dream of going into the mountains. It is very tough. But I would do it again.

Photos property of Traveling Chili Pepper

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Categories: Adventure Out West, Hiking, The Great Outdoor, Travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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