Porcupine Mountains September, 2004

With Labor Day fast approaching and the weather promising to be summerlike for the first time in weeks, Yumi and I decided to hit the Porkies for the 2nd time in a month. Our first trip to the "Porkies" was spent apart. This time we wanted to be together for a while and get back outside.

We left Manitowoc at about 930 AM Saturday and, after taking a wrong turn en route, arrived at the Wilderness Visitor Center by 4 PM EST. This didn't worry me as I knew we'd have an extra hour of daylight and we only would do 5 miles before camping somewhere near Government Peak. After getting our permit and paying our fee we drove up to the Government Peak Trailhead. The lot was full necessitating our parking on the road shoulder.


As far as I can tell, this loop covered about 15 miles of easy hiking. The walk along the rim of the Escarpment would have been more enjoyable had the weather cooperated, but it was still an experience.

Finding water near Government Peak is impossible unless you're getting rained on so plan around this if you decide to camp up there.

Mileage 15.5
Elev. + / - unknown
Camp Rating
Dinner PB & J Bagels
Breakfast PB & J Bagels
* Bug Irritation Factor

We began our hike with a short uphill climb which, in the high humidity, started the sweat flowing. It didn't take long to realize it was going to be soaked by the time we made it to Government Peak. It also didn't take long to figure out that the warm weather they'd been having for the past week had hatched another generation of mosquitos. This was not a good thing for Yumi.

The hike roughly followed the Upper Carp river for about 2.5 miles before coming to the first two camp sites. Both were full and I started thinking that we might need to make our own site if the park was as crowded as the girl at the Visitor Center had said. In about 20 minutes we came to the surprisingly beautiful Trap Falls. We paused just long enough to get a picture and moved on. In a few more minutes we came to the Lost Lake Trail junction. Here we turned due west and continued toward Government Peak. The trail here was particularly muddy and full of newborn mosquitos. I cursed myself for not bringing the bug dope for Yumi's sake. I was getting bit, but didn't react to them. Yumi, however, was starting towelt and puff up from every bite.

We came to a place on the map which looked like a small pond. Instead, it was a mosquito-breeding hotbed with no access due to the mucky shoreline. No chance of getting water here without getting wet, muddy feet. There was a campsite near the shore, but we vetoed this one in favor of one without skeeters. We began the "climb" up the peak. After doing Stoney Indian, Redgap and Dawson passes in Glacier, this was a piece of cake. We met a couple of early 20-somethings on the way up and they told us about a great site at the summit of. Obviously there would be no water up there so we'd have to alter our dining plans for dinner, but it sounded good. There might even be a nice breeze up there to keep the bugs away. After about 5 minutes of leisurely climbing we were at the summit.

Yumi posing at Government Peak

We set up camp at the top but moved to another site about 40 yards that gave us a semi-view of the the park to the west and a little more wind. I took off my sweat-soaked shirt and put on my fleece. It was about 75 degrees out and I wondered what had prompted me to take it along in the first place. We ate our dinner on the steps of what was once a fire tower. All that remained now were the four footings and the steps. I ate a couple of peanut butter and jelly bagels while Yumi also ate one and topped it off with a pouch of Chicken of the Sea precooked shrimp. The shrimp was to go in our Thai noodles, but the lack of water killed that idea. Tomorrow night we'd eat a hot dinner.

Not wanting to bother with a fire, we retired to the tent. We were a little tired from the 6 mile sprint up to the peak and just wanted to relax. It's amazing how quickly one can lose their fitness level after a little more than a month and we both wondered how we managed our Glacier trip. It was still warm so I didn't bother putting the fly on the tent. Still too warm, I stripped down to my undies and spread out on my thermarest. The wind was starting to pick up a little bit cooling things off a little but I still fell asleep without climbing into my sleeping bag, and wouldn't for the duration of the night. This either amused or amazed Yumi who was snuggled deep into her bag.

We awoke the next morning to cloudy skies and wind. We quickly determined that we would probably hike out instead of camping at the Lake of the Clouds. We don't mind hiking or camping in the rain, but would rather do it amidst more spectacular scenery that what we were getting here. Yeah, we were spoiled on the Glacier trip, no doubt about it, but Yumi also had schoolwork that needed to get done. Better to do it on the kitchen table than in the truck on the way home. We quickly broke camp and ate more peanut butter bagels and water. We hit the trail by 830 AM and began our descent of Government Peak. We startled a large doe about 30 feet head of us which in turn scared us. We decided we needed to make more noise lest we scare a blackie the next time. The walk through the woods was uneventful and lacking scenery. The highlight was heading north up the Mirror Lake trail and the descent to Scott's Creek where we were able to filter some water for the remainder of the hike. We started the day with a full one liter bottle and about 2 cups still left in my bladder and this was almost gone by the time we got to the creek.

Just as we were finished filtering the water it started to sprinkle a little but not too badly. We met a father, his dog and two younger kids heading toward Mirror lake. It looked like they were having fun despite the sprinkles and wished Todd and Matt had decided to come along. In about a half hour we came to the bridge leading across the Big Carp near the western shore of the Lake of the Clouds. Here we met a group of about 8 college-aged kids breaking their camp at the Lake. Oh to be that young again. They were also heading to Mirror Lake and just for a second I thought about asking Yumi if she wanted to head that way as well, but quickly extinguished that thought.

Yumi on the Escarpment Trail fighting the 50 mph winds and light rain. She said she didn't like it, but I don't believe her.

We crossed the bridge and began what I thought would be a killer climb to the top of the escarpment. As it turned out this was nothing to worry about. When we got to the top the wind was blowing like a mother. The entire hike along the escarpment was a battle against the wind and blowing rain. Several times I was knocked off balance by the wind. Yumi was actually knocked down a few times by the 50 mph gusts. The scenery, however was outstanding. We were afforded a view of the Lake and the valleys east and west. We even saw a black bear crossing the Upper Carp over a log from a great distance. Finally, the trail began to descend back down towards M-107 and the trailhead. This was a real knee-burner for me and I longed for my trekking poles for this stretch. By 11:45 AM we were back at the truck where I stripped off my soaked T-shirt and tried to dry off. We had done about 9.5 miles in a little over 4 hours.

We drove back down to the visitor Center for a partial refund, spent some time looking at their exhibits and drove back to Silver City for a bite to eat at the Foothills restaurant. We sped back home in record time, took showers and watched The Green Mile before falling asleep. In all we spend less than 20 hours in the park, but had covered almost 16 miles on the trail. Yumi suffered about 50 skeeter bites and my knees were aching. I'm glad we went as it will probably be the last time we get out this year because of Yumi's school and the boys soccer starting up again. So until next Summer's Rocky Mountain National Park trip and the Glacier 2005 Summer Tour, the gear will be put away.


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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