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Michigan's Upper Peninsula - August 2011

In August, five of us set out to explore the MI UP on our 650 thumpers.  Gary (intotheabis), Dave (Dyno), Eric (ktmer), Gerry and myself used cannonshot's tracks as a guide and set out with no particular plan except to generally follow the tracks counter-clockwise, and camp when we found a good place.  Since we were in civilization, we could buy food as we needed.  No need to carry lots of stuff.   Here is the path as recorded by my Zumo

The report is mostly built around Eric's pictures as he has most complete and best set.  Others are interspersed as well.

Day 1

On Saturday, the four of us who lived in Ontario met up at the Timmies in Woodstock to get the trip started.  Gerry and I got there first and ended up waiting a bit for Gary and Eric.....we would do this a lot.  Those two like to take in the view a lot more than we other three.  We were planning on meeting at Dave's place in Port Huron around noon, but given the late start and traffic jam at the border, we didn't get there until two.   Gerry did some homeless-man-type mods to his seat (Gary, I need the picture of the cardboard) and we took off north just as the sky began to open up.

Dave plotted a pretty good route through the lower peninsula and I'm sure he got tired of being referred to as "the local" whenever we wanted to defer leadership......most of the ride went OK, until Gerry decided to get lippy with a local cop.....

The rain settled down and Gary and I decided to follow Dave through a bypass that he named "Death by Sand"  ... It was appropriately named

We found a place in the state forest to legally stealth camp and had a dinner of roasted weenies and beans.   Dave set up his tent in the snoring section....way back there.

Day 2

We headed out early towards the Mackinac Bridge.   Dave picked out lots interesting roads to tackle.

We had some rain but made it into the UP and dried out over a big lunch before heading onto the semi-planned route.  As it started to get late, we found a place to camp.  Just as we stopped, I heard Gary say "Hey, what's that burning smell?"  It turns out that his rear brake had seized and was smoking.  We couldn't fix it, but were able to clear the rotor and wire his pedal up so he couldn't use his rear brake, but wouldn't do any further damage.

We made dinner from the provisions we carried with us.  Gary looked to really enjoy it.............................

Day 3

Just to prove that we did stop to see the sites....I present the Whitefish point lighthouse......I think it was the last one.....

The fearsome 5 in a line-up

Here's Eric in is usual pose......stopped to take a picture

Shortly thereafter, we hit the longest stretch of deep sand we had to face.

Gary split from us to take a the short cut to Marquette to see if the Kawasaki dealer had brake pads.  We met him there late in the afternoon and found he was successful. We had dinner at a local restaurant and headed of to nearby Camp Horse Shoe.  This is a private campground, but nice, cheap and full of "interesting" characters.  We pitched in to help fix Gary's brakes with the precision instruments that one normally uses on a KLR

While gathering firewood, I snagged some rusty barbed wire and we all thought that would be the worst injury of the trip.

Day 4

We awoke to the screams of Boo's mother......but that's a story to be told offline......and headed out

We took some nice roads

Ran through many logging roads that were active

..and ended up making camp near the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula

Where my DR did packmule duty

Day 5

Today gets interesting.   We rode down alternative paths on the Keweenaw Peninsula and found many of the type of rocky climbs and snowmobile trails that we did on the way up.   Late in the afternoon, we took off down a power-line trail and bypassed a gate signed "road closed" .  From there it got a lot rougher and a bit muddy, with some deep dried ruts.  I was up front and out of site of the rest of the group.  After I cross a big mud bog, the first real water crossing of the trip, I dismounted and got my camera out to capture the others splashing through.   Gerry was behind me, and its unusual for him to be very far back , so it was strange that he hadn't shown up after a few minutes....Finally Gary showed up and yelled across the water that we had to go back.  At first I protested because I really didn't want to cross that mess again, but gave in because it was obvious there was a problem.

Sure enough, Gerry had crashed in a mud puddle, fell wrong and had apparently (and actually it turned out) broke his collar bone.  This is where it happened.

Dave has some mad first aid skills, and isolated the break about as good as a doctor would.  Gerry was showing his usual personality.

 We were about 2 miles from the main road, and since he couldn't ride, he had to hoof it out while we shuttled the  5 bikes out.  We ended up stashing his bike in the woods near the street and he doubled up with Gary to ride to the nearest town & hospital...only 10 miles away.   Don't they look look like happy newlyweds?

The rains started again and after Gerry was patched up.  We took to a local hotel instead of camping.   It is the Sunshine Motel in Ontonagon and is run by the friendliest people in the world.  Gary and I got Gerry's bike back and they allowed us to store it in their shed until Gerry could come back and get it.

Day 6

The plan was to take Gerry back up to Houghton where he could catch the bus home....he can elaborate on that story.  Dave and Eric waited with him to make sure that he could get a ticket while Gary and I sprinted down to Escanaba.  My rear tire was wearing dangerously thin and Gary was very dissatisfied with the performance of his Heidinaus so three days earier, we had called the powersport dealer in Escanaba to order some new Dunlop 606's for us by the time we got there.  They weren't much of a shop so we changed them in the parking lot.

Dave and Eric caught up to us shortly after noon and we continued on.   Even with a new front tire, Gary managed to find trouble.........

We rode some great trails and towards the end of the day, Eric noticed that were only a few miles from Camp we decided to stay again.   Boo's Mom, Trish , was very excited to see us again......

We ate like kings

Day 7

We made it back into the LP and found an equestrian camp ground..we didn't mind.  It was raining again.

Day 8

We rode most of the same roads heading back to Dave's house, it was really funny how we could practically ignore the sandy patches that made us clinch tight on the way up.  A week of riding in it had  really made a difference in our confidence.

The final four at the point of separation....Great ride guys....and well done.  We only lost one.........not bad really :-)