2014-0817 Michigan: Manitou Island

12:52 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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My 6 night trip to Manitou Island in Lake Michigan.  Decided to try and head north from Indiana hoping the temperatures would be a little milder; and they were mid-to-upper 70's (F) during the day and low 60's at night.  I had never been there before and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The trip starts with a ride to the island from Manitou Transit.  Very nice people who answered my many questions.  If you ever visit the island, keep in mind you pay for the ferry ($35 round trip) and you pay for backcountry permits too ($5/night or $40 for an annual pass); and you can pay it all at the dock.  Hour boat ride, uneventful but beautiful, about a dozen other hikers and campers getting on and off the island.

 

Views along the shore.
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A freighter running between the island and the mainland.
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Camp anywhere, just stay 300 feet from water, historic buildings, etc.  The above is just about where I camped for the first night.

Hiked around the southern end of the island the second day.  I did not see much of the interior of the island that day.
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Blueberries?  Does anyone know?  The coyotes apparently eat them because I saw lots of the seeds in their scat.
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My camp on the second night.  Can you see my hammock tucked in there?
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Sunset.  A lot of overcast days and rain, but you can't let that stop you.  Despite the rain it was beautiful and the sound of rain on the tarp is very relaxing; I slept alot.
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Inland: Manitou was once heavily lumbered and had homesteaders and summer cottages.  In several places you can see the old homes and barns, occasional abandoned cars, and a truck graveyard (coming up).  Consequently the inland is made up of relatively young trees and occasional clearings where a homestead used to be.  I really enjoyed the variety of scenery.

Inland forested trail.
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Inland open fields.
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North side of the island "The Potholes"
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Some of the shorline was very rocky.
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Sometimes it wasn't easy getting 300 feet from the water.  In this case, the first 100 feet were vertical. 

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The view at sunset.
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Glad to have stumbled across the truck graveyard.
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On the last night, I hiked in to the inland lake, Lake Manitou.  When I imagined a lake on a small island, I pictured algae and full of weeds, but this lake was big and clear and beautiful; with just enough breeze to keep the mosquitos away.  I even skinny-dipped a bit.
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A couple of notes:  You would think an island in the middle of a freshwater lake would make getting water a breeze, at least I expected it to be easy.  But the reality is, depending on the weather, the waves can be fairly huge and churn up a bunch of sand and seaweed, which I was able to filter out but it can be a lot of work (bring something to backflush your filter). 

Also, those big waves make gathering water a hilarious adventure.  The first night I planned to roll up my pants legs, wade out a bit to clearer water, scoop up a bit and then gracefully step back before the waves soaked me with what felt like ice-water.  The reality was, the first wave soaked me, I screamed like a little girl (it's so cold!), and moved with all the grace of a man trying to catch fish bare-handed.  Now I know why sailors have the reputation for swearing like they do.

And, no bears; but the chipmunks make up for it.  Hang both your food and your pack or be sorry. 

I can't wait to go back again.

 

2:34 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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That sounds like neat change of pace from climbing mountains. Did you run into other folks as you wandered about or only at the docks?

5:51 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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I spent my boyhood summers on the Michigan banks of Lake Michigan. Your pics stirred up memories. Thanks for sharing them!

6:45 p.m. on September 2, 2014 (EDT)
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Great photos. Looks like a really relaxing outing!

8:52 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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That is a really pretty area (well, maybe not the truck graveyard). Thanks for sharing the island with us.

9:42 p.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Blue berries don't have seeds.  Likely either raspberries or blackberries that ripen about the same time.

8:37 a.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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@ Lonestranger:  No one the first two days then 20 the third day.  Then small groups every once in a while the last few days.  Certain places are very popular to visit (Crescent Docks) and that's when I ran into a bunch of people.  Avoid those areas and it's as if you have the island to yourself; or hit the popular spots and never feel alone.

@ Grey Eagle: Thanks.  Those must not have been blue berries, they definitely had big seeds in the middle.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

10:53 a.m. on September 4, 2014 (EDT)
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I used to camp on an island in Chesapeake Bay as a kid. The novelty trips to unusual places are really fun. Keep those TRs coming.

March 23, 2019
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