Great Lakes Hikes 2001 NCTA School House Gathering

November 10, South Branch Road to Big Star Lake Road NCT Hike | 16 Mile Road to Big Star Lake Road NCT Hike

GLH Gathering, November 11, 2001. 16 Mile Road to Big Star Lake Road NCT Hike

The hike today was between 16 Mile road and Big Star Lake Road (where the hike the day before ended) and would be about 7.5 miles long. I think we actually began hiking around 11:00 again and the day was shaping up to be another glorious day for hiking.

Our group quickly began spreading out along the trail. Our hike began by taking us through pretty open country along trail that had many deep dark holes water filled holes. The holes were made by off-road vehicle traffic I think. Yuck. John told me later that he found one that was 4 feet deep. As far as I know we did not loose any hikers to the holes.

The terrain today was quite a bit different from what he had strolled through yesterday. While yesterday actually had some rolling hills today was practically flat. The forest seemed different too. Today we found ourselves travelling through young stands of poplar trees. But, there were also the usual pine, oak, and maple to spice things up. Along with the trees came a somewhat more marshy ground. I am not sure what, if any, rivers flow nearby but clearly this stretch of the NCT gathers and retains quite a bit of water.

At one of the relatively dry spots near a marsh pond we settled down for a lunch break. The sky was dotted with cumulus clouds and the temperature was in the upper 50s. A crisp late fall day. The lunch spot was among the best places to settle down along the entire trail.

I found that the trail today was a good deal tougher to follow than what he had hiked the day before. Some of the reasons I think this was true include: the large amount of leaf clutter that obscured the trail, the marshy quality of a good deal of the trail, and the furrows that seemed to crises-cross the trail quite a bit (I have no idea what theyıre for though speculation ran from them being old corn field furrows to little fire breaks). I found that I would be on the trail and then off of it by a couple of feet. Then back on and then off again. It was definitely easier to follow someone else who could more easily see the trail and the blazes in front of us. The blazes though were at times rather confusing. There is, in fact, a section around the most marshy area (the one that ran through what must be private property with owners who may have misgivings about the NCT being there), where the blazes are just plain wrong. The person that did the blazing clearly doesnıt know how to make a double blaze marker. Either that or he or she is dyslexic.

As the trail wound its way through some of the marshy areas it was difficult to keep my feet dry. Over time I would suffer water invasions into both shoes. The maintaining club for this area is clearly working to improve the situation. We came upon little structures, tiny cabin-like entities, of boards that I imagine will be used to build puncheons in time. If the boards are not for that purpose then I imagine they really are meant to be tiny cabins for creatures or small fairy folk. The puncheons that were built, some quite impressively with gravel beds (little causeways), were very welcome. I just hope they can get the rest of them built.

After lunch we spread out. I think there were two or three groups. I was in the sweep group and we managed to amble through the trail enjoying each others company quite a bit. When something would catch our eye we would pause to take a picture or at least ponder what we were seeing. I particularly liked the section that curved around the marsh meadows just before the trail came to a small, clear, swift flowing creek. The trail would follow that creek for quite some time though usually I was not able to see the meandering water. This last section of the trail was among my favorite portions of the hike. I have a definite affinity for water.

We reached the parking lot at Big Star Lake road around 15:00. Other people, though by no means everyone, were waiting for us there. Some of them had arrived only a little bit ahead of us. We all piled into the two remaining cars to drive back to the southern end of the trail the rest of the vehicles waited for us. I am convinced that the drive between the ends of the hike today is quite a bit longer than the actual hike itself. But, Iım not really complaining just stating a fact. We returned to the schoolhouse around 15:35.

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