Camping and Hiking in the National Forest

Back in 2010 John and i went hiking and camping in the Manistee National Forest, just north of Grand Rapids Michigan. This year we still went to the Manistee National Forest, but decided to take a different trail. In 2010 we followed the Manistee River, this time we didn't follow any rivers, but we did cross the White River. The plan was to walk 22 miles in 2 days, heading south. Here's where we started, the 40th Street Trailhead.
manistee national forest, north country national scenic trail, 40th street trailhead sign

And here is the map of the trail we followed (John made this). We ended up walking 13.5 miles on day 1 and 8.5 miles on day 2.
hiking trail map, manistee national forest, guide, marker, miles, pdf
This time hiking i decided that i should bring less stuff. The last time we went i was really sore after the 3rd day of hiking because of all the weight i was carrying in my backpack. So this time instead of taking 2 liters of water i only brought two small bottles. I did this knowing that John had his water filtration pump so we could refill anytime we crossed a river or stream.

I met Katie and John at their new cottage and it was raining the day before we left. Here's a baby bird i saw sitting on their chain-link fence.
baby bird on fence, brown, wren, wet, raining

But the next day everything was pretty much dry. Here's where Katie dropped us off to start hiking.
trailhead drop off point, manistee national forest, start of trail

The trail was pretty easy to follow but it's really nice that there were blue paint marks on the trees every 100 feet or so. And there were these signs and markers were at all of the road crossings.
north country national scenic trail marker sign, blue marker, manistee national forest trail

Although there were some points where different driveways, roads, paths and trails would cross and you had to make sure you were still going the right direction. Also at some points while walking we had to cut-back along a particular road to connect to a different part of the forest.

I don't know if it was from the rain the day before but there were lots of mushrooms along the trail.
big red mushroom, mario mushroom, hiking trail

It was great walking along the trail. The scenery changed from woods to fields as we walked. There were lots of hills and swampy areas. This was my favorite place to walk, a pine forest.
manistee national forest trail, pint trees, marker

The rain also helped to compact and harden up the sandy trail. Otherwise it would have been a soft fluffy sand that we had to walk on which would have made it much more tiring.
hiking trail manistee forest, backpacking, camping

Also it was a perfect day in terms of weather. It started out a little bit cold and for the majority of the day it was 70 and cloudy. It would have been a lot worse if it was 85 and sunny. Even with the cool temps i was sweating after a couple of miles.
2 day hike, camping, manistee, michigan hiking trail

We took a quick 5 minute rest every 3 miles or so to drink water and eat. I brought lots of food with me. This was some old energy bar i had, it was pretty good, peanut butter and nuts.
energy bar, power bar, camping, hiking, how to make, peanut butter, nuts

And even when it did get sunny, as long as we were under the trees it was very shady.
tree canopy, michigan forest, manistee, river

Half way through the first day's hike we crossed the M-20 Trailhead. The Manistee National Forest put in these signs and parking areas. There were a few cars of people that started hiking and bike riding from there.
m-20 trailhead, manistee national forest, us department of agriculture, us forest service

I found this bright red feather on the trail. I'm not sure what bird it's from, maybe a cardinal.
red and white feather, cardinal, tiny, forest

At the end of day 1 we finally made it to the White River. There was a big metal bridge to cross. But we stopped to go fishing. The water wasn't too deep, it ranged from about 1-4 feet, although it was really cold water. The hard part was not getting your lure stuck on the submerged logs.
white river fishing, michigan, river fishing

I ended up catching two of these fish. I think they are a type of bait fish called a Chub. Apparently they don't get very big.
Chub fish, river fish, white river, michigan, manistee forest

We wanted to camp near the river but not in an area where people will be walking by. So we walked a few hundred feet up the trail then turned off the trail to the right. We set our tent up on top of a hill in a little clearing. It was a good spot, dry with a little breeze and a view of the river down the hill. Here is what the river looked like near our camp.
(click to enlarge)
panorama river, sunlight, sandy river, manistee national forest trail

Here is a time lapse video i did of us setting up the tent. It only took like 5-10 minutes though.

I tried fishing off the bank here too but no luck.
sandy river, manistee national forest trail, hiking, camping

I mainly just laid down in the tent to rest and then walked along the river with the camera taking pictures. I had my homemade ND filter with me and tried taking some of the cool pictures like i took at Lake Erie. They didn't seem to turn out as well. I still need practice with getting the right amount of light to exposure time.
nd filter river water, smooth , log, michigan forest

But i had fun trying all the different setting of exposure, aperture and ISO.
smooth flowing river, forest, sand, trees

You can't really see but this was a submerged tree that had two wild flowers growing out of it. Either the flowers grow really fast or else the water level must stay at a pretty consistent level for them to grow.
wild flowers in river, growing from tree submerged branch

Here is a picture i took using the camera's HDR setting. I've tried HDR photography before by manually taking 3 consecutive pictures at different exposures. But this time i just used the built in settings in the camera. It turned out great and i think that this was one of the better pictures i took. HDR works great for a picture like this with the bright sun and dark shadows.
HDR photo of river, forest, setting, sun, shadow

Here's the low swampy area between our tent and the river. I imagine that this is all wet when the river floods, but it was pretty much dry when we were there.
moss on log, swamp, sunlight, forest, michigan

Another picture of the river later in the day. This picture and the first one i showed were created by taking 6 photos and i combined them using a program called AutoStitch.
panoramic photo of river, michigan manistee national forest, trail, camp

At night i wanted to take a picture of our campsite. I saw some really amazing examples of tents out in the desert with the night sky and the glowing tent. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as well as i had hoped. The trees made the forest floor too dark. I tried using Photoshop to even out the lighting but it made the sky too bright. I'll have to try it again in an area with no trees.
glowing tent at night, exposure, stars, forest, dark

We saw and heard turkeys near our campsite and i marked the spot we stayed with a couple of feathers.
turkey feathers, camp marker, michigan, national forest

Then it was back on the trail, following the blue marks on the trees. Again the second day it was a little cold in the morning but soon warmed up.
follow blue markers trail, michigan national forest trail, hiking

I took a picture of this fern. There was one ray of light coming through the trees which lit it up.
fern, forest, sunlight, prehistoric plant, hiking trail

More rows of pine trees.
pine tree rows, planted in line, workers

There's quite a few of these little crossings over creeks and streams.
mini stream river bridge, handrail, wood, 4x4 posts

The trail was really well maintained. Everything was clearly marked and it looked like it was used quite a lot.
sun hiking trail, manistee national forest trail, hiking, camping,

I felt ok at the start of day 2 but after 8 miles i was really sore. And for the next 5 days i was walking like i was 90 years old. It was from the weight of the backpack being on my hips. The backpack belt is great for getting the weight off of your shoulders but it made my legs sore. But overall i had a great time. I said next time instead of 22 miles we should do just 20.

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