Sunday, January 1, 2023

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Jan '23

West end of Hiland Lake
Potawatomi Trail, Pinckney State Recreation Area.
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.

Jan. 1 Hike In
Distance: 11.23 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 1224 ft.
Start Time: 2:53pm
End Time: 6:50pm

Jan. 2 Hike Out
Distance: 7.05 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 850 ft.
Start Time: 8:52am
End Time: 11:10am

Trip Report:
It was time for another go at Blind Lake. This would be night #12 at this lovely campground. In 2021 I made it there via a big hike on the Waterloo-Pinckney trail from Portage Lake. In the morning I had to bike from Blind Lake back to Portage Lake. The last time I did the standard Poto Trail hike to Blind Lake was 2019.

Grassy forest area on the Poto north section just south of Patterson Lk Rd

I left the trailhead just before 3pm as was planned. I timed things so that I would have an hour or two in the dark at the end. As I often do in the winter, I don't want to arrive at camp too early and have too much time in the dark and the tent. I figure I have to do something in the dark might as well hike rather than sit around camp getting cold.

Gosling Lake from the boardwalk

I checked camp reservations ahead of time and site 2 and site 10 had been booked in the last 48 hours. I wasn't sure which site I would ultimately want since 2 was taken so I decided to pick a site upon arrival and then use my phone to reserve it over the web. Upon arrival I didn't see anyone at 2 so I decided to reserve and take site 1. I would not end up seeing anyone at camp so I'm not sure what happened to the two other reservations.

The weather this year worked out nicely, especially considering it was early January. On the hike in the temps ranged from 50 down to about 38. Even at camp upon arrival I stayed reasonably comfortable in the clothing I had without too much effort. In the morning I was surprised it wasn't colder. There was a heavy fog in the air so I wondered if that kept things slightly warmer. It was 38/39 degrees for the whole hike out.

A slightly frozen Blind Lake in the morning

Clothing-wise I felt like I hit the nail on the head. For the hike in I wore my black Marmot long sleeve tech shirt and zip-off pants. I didn't wear gloves or the hike in though I carried them. I stayed comfortable the whole hike. At camp I put on the orange light down jacket and it was wonderful. Overnight I slept in my REI long underwear and that was it. In the morning I wore the orange down jacket with my hiking clothes and was again comfortable. For the hike out I wore the same hiking clothes with the only different being I wore a winter cap. I wore my Salomon Speedcross 4 trail runners this time and like I have in the past I had some problems with the bottoms of my feet blistering. This never happens on trail runs and not even on my 50-milers. It seems to only happen on this trail when I'm backpacking. I'm led to think it has to do with the extra pack weight and my non-stop speed pounding on the feet. I probably could have worn better socks. Its also possible these trail runners have around 400 miles on them and that adds to the risk while hiking.

This trip was the maiden night with my Sierra Designs Cloud 20 sleeping bag. It was fantastic. I love the zipperless design and I was plenty warm all night. It helped coupling this with a Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm mattress. This sleep system was great for a night in the mid 30-s and I would imagine it could handle another 10-15 down without much effort needed.

Pickerel Lake in the fog

On the hike in I only ate a granola bar from my snack collection. For supper I planned to eat a Jimmy John along the way so that I didn't have to worry about cooking upon arrival at camp. I held out on the sandwich til after 5pm and worked to eat it just before things got dark. I decided I might be a trip hazard if I tried to hike and eat at the same time in the dark. In the morning I fired up my stove and I had 2 packets of oatmeal and hot cocoa. This was a great start to the day. For the hike out I didn't eat or drink a thing. I was getting both hungry and thirsty by the time I hit the car.

This was the first time on my hike out from Blind Lake that I did the full southern end of the Poto loop. I usually shortcut from junction 4 and skip the two big legs in the southeast corner. This time I had the mental and physical energy to do it all.

Coming down to the parking by the unnamed lake near Park HQ

One last item of note from this year: for a couple of years now I've carried my bear canister to use for my food overnight. Obviously its not actually for bears here. Its more about keeping the little critters out of my stuff. I filled it up with food and my cook gear this year so I didn't have too much of a cost on space. As I hiked in it dawned on me that they put up those poles for the hammocks at camp and those poles would make great food hangs. At camp I confirmed this would be a perfect idea for next time. Should just bring my normal food bag and the hang rope and those hammock poles would be perfect for food overnight.

I have a track and waypoints from the activity all contained in the embedded Google Map. Check it out and use at your own risk.

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