Long ago (and oh so far away) I lived and hung out with a extended bunch of guy friends. We combined in many forms, sometimes as roommates, fellow partiers, and fellow adventurers. For being city dwellers we really spent quite a bit of time outdoors and participating in everything from sailing and water skiing to hiking and backpacking. We also played in a recreational volleyball league and even softball in a class A city league.
We were all in our mid to late twenties, had various professional type jobs, rented a nice lower unit of a triplex next to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, and nothing to tie us down. Many of our adventures were spur of the moment and there was always enough of us available to just go and do it.
Thus it came to be one Saturday morning that we were all awake at a reasonable hour we hatched an idea over breakfast. We decided to drive up to the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan and do some hiking and an overnight camp out. We didn't need much for an overnighter so it only took us minutes to pack and load up in whatever vehicle would haul all of us.
About five hours later, there we were!
It was a beautiful day and we were anxious to get on the trails for some serious hiking. We went into the ranger station adjacent to the campground. We talked to the ranger who was about our age and asked him about the various hiking loops we could take. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon, so we had about seven hours of daylight with a lingering summer twilight. He pointed out loops that were ten miles and fifteen miles and suggested those. They looked easily doable in the time allotted. Then one of the more competitive of our group asked him which one he would do. He pointed to a longer loop and said, "this one." It was about twenty five miles through the woods and then up the lake shore before turning back to the campground. "It might be a little long for you guys, though."
One of our competitive guys said, Can you do it?" "Yes." "Then we can do it."
We took the green loop. the camping area is off the map to the east.
I had hoped that some of the testosterone of our earlier years had worn off and that we were able to think more with our upper brain. After being cooped up in the car for hours we had energy to burn off, though. And we were still too young to always think clearly.
We knew it would be tight to do before dark as we had never been on these trails. They looked fairly easy to see and easy to walk on.
We were doing fine until we hit the stretch going along the lake. About halfway along that nearly ten mile stretch we were starting to show signs of fatigue. There was a lot of loose rock and the walking became more difficult as we tried to keep a pace that would get us back to camp before dark. It was another ten miles, though, and there wasn't much happy chatter going on. Our group started to spread out a bit. We stopped to check out some blisters that had formed on our feet, but didn't have the luxury of time to do much about them. Just grit our teeth and go.
It was pretty dark for the last couple of miles, but the trail was still easy to follow, thank goodness and we finally made it back to camp. When we stopped, we flopped. The shoes came off, the legs were massaged and there was much moaning and groaning. We did more crawling than walking around the campsite and ate the most expedient food as exhaustion would allow. Not much was said and everyone fell asleep on the cold hard ground very quickly.
The next morning was greeted with more moaning and groaning as we took stock of our injuries in the daylight. Rather than describe the various aches, pains, and lesions, let's just say it wasn't pretty.
The trip home was quiet as whoever didn't have to drive just slept.
I survived with just a few blisters and aches. Two of our team needed to see a doctor and one of those needed minor knee surgery from aggravating an old injury. We didn't speak much of that weekend for a few months, but eventually we started laughing about it. When someone would tell us of something fun he thought he could try, the response was, "If you can do it, we can do it!" punctuated by laughter and another beer. Eventually, most of us (not all of us) settled down with women that would help us keep from hurting ourselves and we lived happily ever after.
Addendum: These are all stock photos.
Every time I look across the Big Lake, some 70 miles, on a very clear day I can see the Porkies. It is similar to this side, but the rocks are a little different. Here is a shot of the Slit Rock Lighthouse I got on the way home from Duluth about a week and a half ago. Click to embiggen.