JANUARY 18, 2005 — MESICK, MI
Andrew has resumed his hike. After a short holiday visit to his home in Seekonk, MA, Andrew flew back to Battle Creek, MI on Wednesday January 5th. Tom Garnett, President of the Chief Noonday Chapter of the North Country Trail, met Andrew at the airport. Tom and his wife, Judy, provided Andrew with lodging and a ride to his trail resumption point. Andrew’s generous Sponsors and Santa, provided Andrew with some great, new, cold weather gear. He is much warmer but the weight of the pack has increased. You can check out the winter gear list he has put online. Ryan Jordan, from Backpacking Light Magazine, was very helpful to Andrew, offering good recommendations about gear for winter hiking. His recommendations have proved solid so far.
Proceeding north from Battle Creek, the North Country Trail includes hiking in game areas and on country roads. Andrew passed through the “Apple Capital” of Michigan. He made it to Lowell, Michigan on Saturday, January 8th. This is the site of the national headquarters of the North Country Trail. Kevin and Meg Cusack picked Andrew up in Lowell and gave him great hospitality for the evening. Kevin and Meg are another pair of “Trail Angels,” opening their home for shelter and offering their friendship to many hikers over the years.
For Andrew’s first ten days on the trail, temperatures were mild and the trails were covered with some snow. Andrew used his snowshoes whenever possible. A strong cold front moved through the area on Wednesday, Jan. 13th. This will be more typical Michigan weather. Morning temperatures have now in the single digits. It warms up during the day, but never gets above 32 degrees. Andrew said that his sleeping bag and tent are warm enough and he has been sleeping fine. The hardest time is early morning. His toothpaste freezes when the temperature hits about 10 degrees, so it takes a great deal of pressure to get the toothpaste out of the tube. The ink in his pen has frozen so he is now using a mechanical pencil to write in his journal. Usually, Andrew is very cold after breaking camp in the morning and he runs for a half mile or so to warm his body temperature. If he stops for more than ten minutes, he feels the cold again. Andrew realizes that he must become accustomed to these temperatures and be extra cautious. It will probably be even colder in the Upper Peninsula. If Andrew has the opportunity to find good shelter/lodging for the night, he readily accepts it and enjoys the warmth.
Andrew met up with Rich Krieger, Spirit of the Woods Chapter, NCTA on Thursday night Jan. 13th in the White Cloud area. Rich and his wife, Deb met him again on Sat. Jan 15th in Branch, MI. Andrew stayed in the Sernick family cabin, which is right on the NCT. That was a generous offer and Andrew enjoyed it.
Andrew is now in the Manistee Forest, which starts 700 miles of uninterrupted forest trails. He is looking forward to the wilderness and the rugged terrain. Rich and Deb tried to assure us that wild animals are not a big factor at this time of the year. Bears are hibernating and moose have never presented a problem. He did mention cougar sightings, but we just hope for some hiker’s luck. Andrew’s cold weather equipment appears to be working well. He is in good spirits and good health.
Andrew has completed 3523 miles to date in his 7,700 mile hike across the continent (46% of his 7,700 mile hike).