Porcupine Mountains July, 2004


This was a great trip to break a few pre-teens in with: Flat, moderate mileage and enough water to keep them interested.

Mileage 13.0
Elev. + / - n/a
Camp Rating
Lunch Tuna wraps
Dinner Chicken Teriyaki
Breakfast Oatmeal
* Bug Irritation Factor


Trip map

Park Website

After returning from our fabulous Glacier 2004 Summer tour, Yumi and I thought it would be a good idea to take the entire tribe up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Porcupine Mountains for the weekend. We hadn‘t even had time to clean up from the Glacier trip so this one would test our planning abilities. We were able to get an early start on this one as I was able to sneak out of work a couple of hours early on Friday. We were able to leave Manitowoc by 2:15 for the 6 hour trip up. We originally thought we’d take Yumi’s Sienna, but it became clear there would not be enough room for all 7 of us and camping gear, so I threw the excess gear into my truck and we took two vehicles. I must admit, it was nice to have that time to myself and listened to talk radio and sang along (poorly) to some 80’s CD’s.

By the time we reached our camp site at Presque Isle campground it had started to rain. Fortunately, the site was huge and tree covered which enabled us to get the two tents and screen house up without getting that wet. We quickly made dinner, took care of the dishes and went to bed. Yumi and I slept with the girls, while the boys yacked most of the night in the 3-man Coleman. They should have known better but would pay for their lack of sleep later on. We managed to survive the night of rain without much trouble and woke to partly sunny skies with temps in the mid 70’s---almost perfect hiking weather. Yumi and I fed the kids their donuts and milk, then got ready for our individual adventures. Yumi would take the girls on day hikes throughout the park while the boys and I were going on an overnight hike--the first for Matt and Nick.

The men got their packs situated. Matt and Nick were carrying 3200ci Kelty’s with nothing much in them except for a fleece, their fishing poles, sleeping bags and thermarests, while Todd would take the Gregory Z-Pack I bought Yumi at St. Mary two weeks earlier. Todd would also carry his new Coleman Exponent Inyo tent as well as a spare stove---my ancient Svea 123---since we had troubles with the MSR Dragonfly while doing the Dawson pass loop. Once we got our water bottles filled we were ready to drive over to the trailhead at the end of the Little Carp River Road.

Todd, Matt and Nick on day one of their first overnight backpacking adventure. 

By 1000 AM we said goodbye to the girls and told them we’d see them at 1000 AM the next morning. We were off. The first thing we noticed was that the trails were more difficult to hike than those at Glacier. Exposed tree roots and rocks made for a difficult and slippery hike after last night’s rains. We met about 3 parties coming off as we hiked the Little Carp River Trail towards Lake Superior. Most looked like they had endured a miserable night. We passed by numerous small falls that the boys enjoyed but to me were nothing special. Had it been earlier in the summer things might have been different and the few crossings more difficult. For the boy’s first time out, it was about right. We had about 6.5 miles to get to the Lake and covered the ground without needing much rest. Most of the trail was level, but when we did have to do any climbing it was straight up the muddy trails. We stopped to munch on some granola bars and a drink around 11:30 then continued on.

By 1230 PM we had reached the Lake and our first dilemma: We couldn’t find the Lake Superior Trail. Luckily, the Little Carp Cabin’s occupants were out and were able to direct us through their back yard and to the trail. Unfortunately, the trail was not there. I decided that we should just bushwhack down to the Lake and hope we could find the trail up the shoreline a bit. This worked out well as I was able to detect a small, dry stream bed, located it on the map (I hoped) and bushwhacked back into the woods. After about 70 yards we found the trail, and about 200 yards later found what would be our campsite for the night.

Matt tries his luck fishing at the Mouth of the Little Carp River.

Todd and I set up the tents while Matt and Nick collected firewood for the night. After eating some Tuna wraps we decided to hike back to the Little Carp to try some fishing and exploring. I got the fishing gear set up for Matt and Nick and we were off. The fishing was not very good. The only marine life we found were minnows but that didn’t stop them from having a good time. While the other two were getting skunked, Todd and I hiked upstream a bit looking for fish, but none were to be found. After an hour of no luck, we all waded down to Lake Superior. Matt asked if he could skinny dip. Seeing nobody else around I said “OK”. Within 10 seconds of his nakedness, Nick followed suit. Todd, the most sensible of the three declined to join in. The naked nymphs frolicked in the water for about a half hour before I suggested we had to get back to camp for dinner. They reluctantly got out of the river, put on their clothes and we hiked back to camp.

Tonight we would feast on Teriyaki chicken and noodles. While Todd and I worked on dinner, matt and Nick discovered someone had fashioned ez chairs from the thin, flat rocks on the beach---complete with armrests. Very comfortable I must say.

We finished our dinner and went down to the Lake. The night was going to be beautiful. I excused myself to start the fire while the boys made up some goofy rock throwing game and talked about whatever it is 11 and 12 year old boys talk about. By 830 PM they came back up to the fire where we relaxed and did nothing. By 930 the lack of sleep and 6.5 mile hike caught up with them and we all climbed into our tents for the night. Todd and I slept in his Exponent while Matt and Nick were in the North Face. The night was warm and comfortable and Todd and I were able to sleep with the rainfly off the tent.

Since we had to be back at Presque Isle about 6 miles away by 10 AM, we were up by 0615 AM. After slamming down a quick breakfast of oatmeal we were on the trail by 0715 AM. To say the lads lacked energy would be an understatement. Whereas yesterday they practically sprinted the 6 plus miles, today they needed a break every 45 minutes or so. Todd was having a tough time with the extra weight but gutted it out. There wasn’t much to see as we were hiking through the woods and a lot of mud. After trying to skirt these puddles of mud for the first hour, we finally said screw it and walked through. Luckily, most of the terrain was flat or I’m afraid we wouldn’t have made it back to the girls in time. Or so I thought.

By 0930 we did make it to the Presque Isle River and were able to rock hop across. The only obstacle which remained was the large staircase leading up to the parking area. Calling up the last of their strength, the boys forged upwards to the parking lot and by 950 AM spotted Yumi’s van. I left my map on her windshield to let her know that we made it back. We thought she must have been hiking around the river with the girls so we cut through the woods to our campsite which was visible from the van.

We celebrated a successful trip with cans of Sierra Mist and high five's for a job well done. In all, the boys did about 13 miles---not bad for their first effort, but only a warm up for our planned 3 nighter in Colorado next summer.


As it turned out, yumi and the girls were attempting to hike the loop around the Presque Isle River but had gotten lost, turning their 3 mile hike into a 6 mile ordeal. Thankfully, they were able to make it back without too much damage and we were able to make it back to Manitowoc by early evening. All in all a good time was had by everyone.




July, 2011
Winter camping in the Beartooths in July
teton August, 2010
6 nights in the heart of the Absaroka mountains
July, 2009
Another 7 nights with the crew in the Beartooths
August, 2008
7 nights in the Beartooths with Ward and the Canadian
July, 2008
5 nights in the Bighorns with a Canadian

August, 2007
Yumi and I return to GNP for some fun

July, 2007
6 nights in the heart of the Northern wind Rivers
August, 2006
A 3-night solo in the Absaroka-Beartooth
July, 2006
Yumi and I spend 8 nights in the Wind Rivers
Aug-Sept., 2005
Dorf gets his GNP fix with 8 nights on the trail
July, 2005
A quickie solo in the Cloud Peak Wilderness
July, 2005
Our return to GNP aborted 6 hours in :-(
July, 2004
Two weeks of camping and backpacking in Glacier.
September, 2004
Yumi and I get to the Porkies before fall arrives
July, 2004
Yumi and I take the kids to the Porkies
June, 2004
Todd and I prove that last years' Newport debacle was no fluke
October, 2003
Yumi and I test some more gear and nearly die
September, 2003
Yumi and I decide to do a little camping & test gear


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