Porcupine Mountains State Park Escarpment Trail

There was a time in my life that I would have never considered strapping on a backpack and hiking 8.8 miles just for pleasure on Saturday afternoon. But, that is exactly what I did to celebrate Father’s Day 2021 with my husband. He’s always been outdoorsy. Me, not so much. Along with my wellness journey though came a weird unexpected transition. Feeling stronger and able to move my body better opened doors for me. First the first time ever in my 65 years, I strapped on a back pack. My husband and I set out on an 8.8 mile hike. The Porkies had been on my husband’s bucket list for years and had been added to my bucket list about a year ago. Oddly enough, my bucket list includes several hikes now which I hope to be blogging about just because I think it fits in with this whole health and wellness thing.

The views along the Escarpment Trail are spectacular. You can see the headwaters of the Carp River and its winding path to Lake of the Clouds. The scene unfolds like a rumpled green silk table cloth. White Pine is visible near the far horizon.

The trail is classified as moderate. Lake of the Clouds appears early on and the views get better and better as you go along until the trail turns in to the woods. You can exit back out to the road at this point if you want, but, our goal was to hike the entire trail–round trip. It was 4.4 miles one way of up and down hills and rocks and winding through the state forest. It was beautiful. The weather perfect for hiking and no bugs to be found. We stopped for about 30 minutes for lunch and a rest in the shade at about midpoint.

The trail’s end (or beginning depending on your starting point) is quite steep and rocky. Hikers coming in the other direction warned us that the last half mile was a tough go. Actually, I didn’t think it was all that bad. When we arrived at the end of the trail, which is another parking lot, we past several groups of hiker’s just starting out. Some in flip flops with no water and we chuckled as they passed us. We wondered how far they would get. They were already sounding concerned and asking how far to the other end of the trail.

We walked the road from the end parking lot back to our car–another 4.4 miles. This time, we were feeling it. It was uphill the whole way. I’m talking Porcupine Mountains, so, not really hills but mountains. We ran out of water about half way along the road. The day was getting warmer, our packs seemed heavier, feet starting to feel like there were bricks tied to them. We stopped several times on this stretch. My husband sprawled out in the ditch and me standing on the shoulder of the road with my pack on ’cause I knew if I sat down I may not be getting back up. Our bodies were starting to ache.

The last mile was the hardest. It was a steep uphill climb on a curving, switchback style road. I kind of wanted to cry but that was not going to help anything. I glanced at my partner who looked as exhausted as I did so I knew he would be of no help. We toughed it out, putting one foot in front of the other. When cars would pass we would stand up straighter, smile, trying not to let our pain and exhaustion show through. “Finish strong” we would shout to each other and laugh.

Finally, the parking lot appeared around the corner and we spotted our car. A hiker/cyclist we met earlier on the trail passed us. He mentioned that he prefers to start at the other end of the trail (opposite of what we did) and hike uphill first, grab his bike left earlier in that parking lot, and finish out the road section back to his starting point with a fun and easy downhill ride. Who knew? We hobbled on over to our car and hopped in.

I fell asleep in moments in the car on our way to the AmericInn which sits on the shore of Lake Superior on the edge of the Porkies. We carried our packs in, slugged down some water, and collapsed on the beds trying to find a comfortable position to lay our bodies down. But we were all smiles. We did it. 8.8 miles. Our longest and most fun hike together ever. We grabbed a quick dinner and marveled at the beautiful setting for the AmericInn. It sits at the mouth of the Carp River where it empties into Lake Superior with its sugary white sand beach. The sun sets beautifully right there.

Our trip home in the morning was uneventful with the exception of our bodies stiffening up like cold taffy. Every time we had to get out of the car it was a slow and painful event. Our recovery time was quick though and overall I loved every minute of this adventure. Would I do a hike like this again? You bet! In a heartbeat!

“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” –Dr. Seuss

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