Winter Backpacking at Wilderness State Park - Mackinac City, MI
I haven’t had a lot of time to venture outside of the Traverse City this winter. I’ve spent a lot of the season crouched over a keyboard building up my new wedding photography brand. But I’m excited for some of my upcoming adventures in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. This last weekend I did my first exploration at Wilderness State Park, a 10,000 acre park just outside of Mackinac City, Michigan. Chris Gray from the Northern Michigan Hiking and Backpacking group reserved a couple cozy cabins. Now that’s winter camping! And on Friday night, our group ventured in the dark on icy terrain to our first stop at Nebo Cabin. Half of us remembered Yak Tracks and the other half had bruised butts. We arrived to a frigid cabin (temperatures were in the teens), but once we got the wood stove roaring, things heated up pretty nicely. Still a couple crazies, Sean and Marcus, opted to sleep outside in hammocks. That first night I learned that Euchre is a difficult game to learn and even more difficult to teach. Still, I had lots of fun watching and sharing some of Scott’s scotch. I slept quite well and didn’t even need my sleeping bag. The cabin became a sauna even with all the windows open. I have a feeling the hammockers had a different experience.
The next morning we all headed out towards our second cabin down the Sturgeon Bay Trail. We even hiked a bit of the North Country Trail and I enjoyed photographing the morning light permeating the trees and casting dramatic shadows on the snow-covered forest floor. The hike to our second cabin was one of our longest stretches of our trip and we were all eager to drop our packs and have lunch by the time we arrived to Sturgeon Bay. Although a bit windy, we did our best to warm up by the fire outside our cabin. I learned that not all Backpacker’s Pantry meals are equally delicious (avoid the cold bean salad). Then we ditched the packs and ventured out on the frozen bay, getting just a little bit lost. The blinding light reflecting off the ice and open terrain made a stark contrast from the enclosed forest we had been hiking in all morning. After returning to the cabin and enjoying a Mountain House Macaroni and Cheese (highly recommended), I ventured back out with the group to enjoy a beautiful sunset out on the frozen ice. The red sky and blue ice were beautiful captures. I couldn’t help myself and convinced two of my fellow hikers Emily and Sean to stage a little impromptu engagement so I could take some couples shots. That night we enjoyed more cards and shared stories in front of the toasty wood stove. And the next morning we headed out early back to the cars. Then we all decided to meet up for burgers and beer at the Key Hole in Mackinac City. Good choice! Thanks Chris for organizing a great trip and showing me a little more of beautiful Northern Michigan. Until next time. 🙂
Josh Hartman, Traverse City Adventure Photographer
Follow my adventures at instagram.com/joshhartmanphotography