Potawatomi Trail Dec 2015

Potawatomi Trail:
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.
Distance: 10.98 mi. (my GPS)
Elevation Gain: 1739 ft. (my GPS)

Hike In: 
  Start Time: 2:11pm
  End Time: 4:10pm
Hike Out:
  Start Time: 8:21am
  End Time: 9:37am



Trip Report:

Another Christmas holiday, another trip up to Pinckney for a night out backpacking. This is rapidly becoming a tradition for me now. With Sarah and the boys usually heading out of town the weekend after Christmas to see family while I remain home to handle worship at Grace, I've taken advantage of the free Friday evenings to head up to Pinckney to hike and enjoy a night of backpacking. This year the weather remained the big question mark. The overnight low for Friday night was forecasted to be around 30 degrees, which wasn't a bad thing. The problem was the potential for rain. Initially the forecast called for at least 50% chance of rain through the night, increasing with morning. By Friday however, the chance of rain overnight had dropped to below 10% with the greater likelihood coming more around Saturday at noon. Thank goodness!

I started out at the Silver Lake trailhead at 2:15pm. It was about 43° and partly sunny which made for perfect hiking weather. I wore a short-sleeve shirt with a thin long-sleeve tech shirt over it. I made quick work of the early stretches of the trail. I ran into a handful of hikers at the start and a few bikers along the way. Being Christmas Day I didn't expect to run into many folks, but I did. I tried to pack light for this trip bringing only the basic gear. The main bulk came from bringing in about 3.5 quarts of water to ensure I would have enough. I filled up my Osprey bladder at 2.5 quarters and also took a full nalgene to have something easy to work with. I probably used 1.5 quarts cooking, drinking on trail perhaps only a half. Could probably get away with 2.5 quarts next time.



To pass the time in the quietness as I hiked in this year I was listening to the audio from the Star Wars A New Hope movie. I resolved, what could be more fun on Christmas than to backpack and have a Star Wars marathon.



I kept up a solid pace all through the trail and watched as the sun went down. As I left the Poto on the east side of the "short-cut" I was anticipating not seeing anyone else the rest of the day. I didn't see anyone on the shortcut, but it wasn't long that I hit the west side of the Poto heading south and I ran into a few more bikers and even a couple of trail-runners.


It was 4:13pm when I hit Blind Lake camp. I spent some time deciding which site to use this time around. I finally decided upon a site upon the rocky ridge above the other camps. I found a decent enough spot, mostly free of rock to set up tent. I figured the views would be fun and things much more dry up there. I got the tent setup and set things in place to cook. I used my Quarter Dome 2 again this year which is nice and light and provides a little extra space to keep my whole pack in the tent with me. While I was in the tent a family with several kids came down the trail and to the lake. I was surprised to see them in this area and wondered where they had started from. They must be local, couldn't imagine they had several miles of hiking still to go.


I started working supper at 5:30p as things were beginning to get real dark and cold. I fired up the stove and while I waited for the water to boil I moved on in my Star Wars marathon to Empire. While I do enjoy the outdoors, I must say the movie helped pass the time in the cold and dark.



When the water was ready I got my Mountain House lasagna going and also did a cup of hot chocolate. The water didn't cool very quickly despite the cold air and I nearly burnt my tongue on it. As I quickly got colder, despite the layers I was wearing, I finished up my food and chocolate and opted not for the second cup of chocolate, and proceeded to get things cleaned up around camp. I left most of the cooking gear sit out on the table for the night having cleaned it all up.





In my tent now I went straight into the bag to start the long wait til morning. It would be almost 16 hours. I spent the evening finishing Empire, then watching Ant-Man on Google Play, reading some Backpacker magazine, Star Wars Force Awakens novel on my kindle, and finally heading to bed. It was around 11pm when I finally decided to go for some sleep. I popped open four chemical heat packs through the evening, 2 to put in my socks, one for the hands and one was a dud. These always work well especially to keep the feet warm. I kept my phone, Kindle, extra batteries, and LED light all in my bag to keep them from dying in the cold. Through the evening I went through 2 of my phone batteries leaving the third nearly full for morning.


I struggled to fully keep warm through the evening and into the night. I spent a lot of time with my head in the bag as I watched movies and read. When I finally decided to get to sleep I went for awhile with my head out of the bag and the bag cinched up closed to keep cold air out. I found in the midst of the night shifting positions got some blood moving and would warm me for a bit. The last two cold nights I've done I've held firmly to a system of *never looking at the watch*. If I know the time I'll be desperately counting the minutes as they slowly go by. Instead, I just wait for things to get light and then I'll know morning has arrived. I also held to a rule of not drinking much all evening to limit the very cold bathroom trips. This time I only had to make one.


Was up in the morning about 7:30am. Things looked light and I checked the watch and was so thankful to see the time. I was also thankful no rain had been falling. I set to work taking down camp. As I took off the rain fly I saw white flakes of frost falling from it. Must have been some condensation from myself that had frozen onto the fly. While I heated up water for a morning cup of cocoa I got the rest of the tent done. There was some moisture on it so I ended up having to set it up at home once I was done. I downed my nice warm cup of cocoa and hit the trails by 8:21am.

I listened to Return of the Jedi for the first part of the hike out. Didn't see anyone but a single runner at the main road crossing, that is until I hit the Crooked Lake trail. Here I passed an ongoing group of almost 20 trail-runners. I made quick work on the remaining trail and was back to the car at 9:37am. A great trip and I survived the cold again. Can't wait to go back!




Track:
I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk). 

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