Monday, January 2, 2017

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Jan '17

Potawatomi Trail:
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.

Trail-run - Crooked Lake Loop
  Distance: 4.30 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 208 ft.
  Start Time: 2:37pm

Jan. 1 Hike In: 
  Distance: 6.67 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 240 ft.
  Start Time: 3:49pm
  End Time: 6:01pm

Jan. 2 Hike Out:
  Distance: 4.38 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 174 ft.
  Start Time: 8:17am
  End Time: 9:41am

Trip Report:
As I followed the weather reports for this New Year's Excursion for a week prior I had some apprehensions about whether it would happen. At one point it called for rain and ice overnight. In the end the forecast came to 0% precip and an overnight low of about 28 degrees. The Sunday afternoon weather was so nice I headed up there early to get a trail run in prior to the hike.

I ran the Crooked Lake Loop and found the trail a little slow going. I had heard on the Dirtbag Runners facebook group about icy snow on the trail and they were right. The areas of compressed snow, particularly on the north slopes was making the trail a bit slippery. I took it slow on a few hills. Due to the weather the trail was also a bit crowded (by Pinckney standards). I must have seen 3 dozen people during my loop. It was otherwise a beautiful trail run and I only had to wear shorts and a long-sleeve tech shirt with gloves. Felt perfect.

For the backpacking I took about 30 minutes after the run to regroup and get my gear together. I was really wanting to pack for overnight warmth this time and so in addition to my sleeping bag I brought my fleece bag liner as well as a light fleece blanket that I usually keep in the trunk of my car. I had also grabbed a few more chemical hand warmers at REI on the way up.

The temp was 39 degrees at start, I knew this well as today was my first hike playing with my Garmin Tempe sensor. From the trailhead I took the Pickerel Lake leg of the Crooked Lake loop to start as I am finding that to be one of my more favorite and scenic sections. Ran into a number of the same people I had during my run, though due to my change of clothes and gear I doubted they recognized me. At the bridge on the north side of Pickerel Lake I stopped to grab a 360 Photo.

Once I left the Crooked Lake loop and started north I started listening to the Rogue One audio book which has been a wonderful book to read/listen adding details to the movie. It was in this section I also figured I would see fewer people and that held true. I saw a handful of guys who were on trail just north of the Yurt and otherwise saw no one else.

The temp was getting progressively cooler as the night came in. I had been hiking in just my zip-off pants and a long-sleeve tech shirt with gloves. I was also wearing my blaze orange cap. After leaving the shortcut and joining the main Poto trail heading south I pulled out my headlamp getting ready to use it. Sunset was about 5:15pm but I was able to hold out until about 5:45p just after crossing the bridge at Halfmoon Lake to turn on the light.

I made it to Blind Lake camp just after 6pm. I picked out site #1 on the ridge which had a picnic table very close to where I would put my tent. The picnic table seemed to have been moved further from where I usually put my tent at #2 so I passed on it. I immediately through on my top layers and then proceeded to get my Quarter Dome 2 tent up. With the tent good and my gear all in the tent I sat at the table and ate on my supper. I had grabbed a steak & arugula sandwich from Panera with kettle chips and this was a tasty treat at camp. Only downside was that my hands and most of my body were freezing by the time I was done eating. I had considered eating in the tent but just didn't want to break that rule or bring scents in there.

For sleeping, I hopped in my fleece bag liner and then that inside my sleeping bag. I used the fleece blanket as a hood over my head at first while I spent time on my phone and watching a pair of movies. I was disappointed to find that my backup battery was dead, though I thought I had had it charge. I was also sad that my S7 battery went down unusually quick leaving me with few options. I finally shut it down for the night at 17% battery hoping to save some for the morning. I watched through X-Men:Apocalypse and Independence Day:Resurgence before falling asleep near midnight.

I tossed and turned a bunch overnight but seemed to stay fairly warm. I was up in the morning at 7:30am and proceeded quickly to get everything in the tent packed up. There was the typical layer of frost on most of the inside of the rainfly. I had brought along two oatmeal and brown sugar bars for breakfast and pocketed them to eat on the hike out. I hadn't drunk any water all night hoping to avoid bathroom breaks. I got one swig at wakeup in the morning but my hose quickly froze up. As I started hiking my Garmin sensor said the temp was 22 degrees. I began the hike out at 8:17am. My hands were freezing from the tent teardown but warmed up. I wore my zip-off pants, and three long-sleeve top layers and was comfy the rest of the hike out. Had one fall down and several near misses on the icy snow.

Blind Lake all frozen over

Trip Report:
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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