Saturday, June 30, 2007

Van Riper State Park, MI

Day 1

At 3AM, after many hours of continuous driving North we arrived in Champion, MI and located the Van Riper State Park on the Michigamme Lake where we had a camp site reserved for us for the next few days. Only problem was, our reservation wasn’t for another 7 hours and we were tired and needed to get some shut-eye.

We had no where else to go so we entered the State Park, parked the truck, pulled out the pillows and attempted to get some sleep in the truck, but since the truck was loaded up to the gills with stuff, we couldn’t even recline the seats and therefore, couldn’t get any good sleep.

Two hours later the sun was already coming up, Mike decided to go sleep outside the truck where he could stretch out on the grass, he didn’t want to fill up the air mattress, it would take too long to fill up and would be too loud using the pump. So he kind of partially assembled the tent, just enough that it was kind of standing upright, then he crawled inside a sleeping bag to get some sleep. I stayed inside the truck, I was just too tired to move, and almost comfy tucked underneath my sleeping bag. It was only in the mid 40’s outside. About an hour later the sky opened up and it started to rain heavily. The rain didn't last very long.

By 9AM we up to sunshine and went driving over to campsite #114, which we reserved, and after making some coffee and cereal for breakfast, we started to set up our home away from home.

Round and round we go, where this road ends, nobody knows

Around noon, when everything was unpacked, we geared up and took off to explore the area. The weather was just perfect, sunny and mild. This was going to be a short ride and we didn’t want to waste any more time preparing sandwiches to eat later, we were not hungry right now either, we just figured we could stop in for a late lunch somewhere along the way. As an after thought, I grabbed the remainder of the Combos snacks we were eating in the truck last night, in case we needed a snack before we found a lunch place. We had plenty of water in our Camelbaks.

Peshekee Grade (paved section) curves along the river

Peshekee Grade is a winding road, with many curves, but its also narrow and one of the bumpiest roads that I've been on in a while

We got on the bikes and took off heading North from the campsite. First we rode the trail that was made when the old railroad tracks were removed, the railroad track grade. That went on for miles and miles, all straight, all dirt, but it didn’t go in the direction we wanted to go. We wanted to head out to Craig Lake State Park, so we turned around and headed in the other direction, ended up trespassing on someone’s property by mistake, thinking it was some cool road, didn’t see any “private property” signs posted although I’m sure they were there, the guy came around the corner giving us dirty looks. We’ll have to be more careful around here.

A really cool bridge off Peshekee Grade at IDA Road

The railroad track grade, straight and well maintained

Many bridges like this on railroad track grade

Lilies on a lake

Bridge going to Peshekee Grade at IDA Road, going back the other way

We arrived at Peshekee Grade again and headed north just for a bit, turning left at the first interesting dirt road. This dirt road twisted through forest and meadows, from there we took another road since this one was ending, but this road ended as well, so we back tracked to another fork in the road but the other road got tighter and tighter, at times you could barely make it out as a trail at all and it also ended. We had no choice but to go back to another fork in the road and try another road, this one went for a while but didn’t look like it was going the way we needed to go, so back we went traveling another road hoping that this one would get us to where we wanted to go.

Turning off to investigate a dirt road off Peshekee Grade

Sometimes the road would just start to disappear on us

Nice trails through the woods

This went on for hours and some roads required more technical type of riding, which I wasn’t used to doing, being new to this dirt riding. Climbing and descending big rocky hills and crossing rivers, I was now so very tired, not having enough sleep last night to begin with. I was also very hungry since we had no lunch and already finished all the Combos snacks. The idea of turning around and going back the way we came was not possible at this point either since it would take us hours to ride those roads back, we needed a quick way to get us back. We knew that one of those roads would be the one to do it, but which one? We didn’t have the time to try them all and the GPS’s couldn’t be trusted, both of us have Garmin, Mike is running older topography maps on his and I’m running current street maps on mine and more times then not, the two GPS’s were not in agreement on what roads we were on and where they went.

Another roads ends

As the sun got lower on the horizon, we were starting to become concerned that we might just end up getting stranded out here after dark with no food and no shelter. If the sun went down, we wouldn’t be able to ride until the sun came back up, tomorrow morning.

Trail full of big, flat rocks

The scenery around us was amazing, the air was clean

We chose another fork in the road and we were very hopeful this road would get us out until we pulled up to a locked metal gate. Both of our GPS’s were telling us there was a larger road beyond the gate and this time the GPS was right. We rode around the gate and came to a bigger road that finally took us to the road that we made a left on from Peshekee Road. A big sigh of relief for me when my front tire touched pavement. I really didn’t want to be stuck in the woods all nigh, especially since tonight the temperature is going to drop in to the upper 30‘s… yikes!

Cross this river? Me?

Note that I'm not riding my bike accross this river, I was just too tired at the end

A locked gate on the road, like that's going to stop us

We needed gas, so we rode to the town of Champion to get it and figuring we were already in town and starved, we inquired where one might eat and we were told of a place to try. Francois was a decent place, with decent food. On the way back to the camp I spotted a sign that said “camp wood $2” which was three times cheaper than the wood they were selling at the state park, so we grabbed a bundle to take with us.

Francois Restuarant on 41 and 95

Cheese curds

Burger for Mike and a chicken sandwitch for me

Today the high temperature was 70 degrees, now the temperature was dropping quickly as the sun was starting to set. One of the benefits of riding up here in the summer are the longer daylight hours, the sun was setting at around 9:50PM local time (Eastern time zone) which was 10:50PM for us. By the time we crawled in to the tent underneath the electric blanket the temperatures have dropped to mid 40’s and the low for the night was supposed to be in the upper 30’s. Upper 30’s in July? That’s just wrong!

Sunset at the Van Riper State Park

The sun hiding behind Michigamme Lake

Where we went today

1 comment:

Tuff said...

Nice Post and story On Peshekee Grade.
We were there last week and drove our truck 35 miles north up the trail. Until it got to muddy , Then turned around, Real nice to investigate, I would like to Return soon with our 4 wheelers. Bristol In.