45 years apart

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Natch

Geographer Ultimo
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I've been coming back to the Porkies (Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park) in the UP for almost half a century. Back in the 70s, (when I had two knees that actually bent, and in the same direction), I was a backcountry guide, and would try to get the Mirror Lake 8-bunker in the middle of an 8 day trek, to dry out gear if it rained too much. In '22 I found myself solo up there again and had someone take a picture of me in the exact same place. Same hat and shirt, but the face shows a bit of ware.
 

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That's one of my favorite places I've ever been. When I lived in Minnesota, it was a short 4-hour drive, so we would go up there a few times a year. snowshoe backpacking in January is one of my fondest backpacking memories. sure, it was COLD, but we had the entire park to ourselves. Blissful solitude. It really is an untapped treasure, but the people who know, know. And as I understand it, one of, if not the only, remaining bits of old growth forest in the Midwest. I can't remember the trail name right now, but it's the one that mostly hugs the lake shore.
 
Here's a pointless story about the first time I went to the Porkies. We normally camped in the backcountry, but for our first visit, we logged a campsite off the main road in the middle section of the park. You know, most state parks aren't like the Porkies, but we didn't know that then. So after hiking all day, we built a fire, made food, did the normal. About thirty yards from us was a tall, thin guy who just got off his road bike and who was also making a meal. We ended up talking to him. He'd barefoot hiked around 30 miles that day throughout the park, and he had just returned from riding to the lake to take a swim. We were maybe 12 miles away from the lake. I was impressed. Hiked barefoot. Rode an old steel-framed road bike (I think it was a Raleigh) around 25 miles. Swam some. This guy was not a triathlete or anything. Just one of those people who effortlessly operates like that. He had everything he owned in the back of this little rental car: the bike and two paper ream boxes that he stored in his sister's basement while he traveled the world buying/selling gems in small amounts so he could live this minimalist traveling lifestyle. He tried to get up to the Porkies once a year. He said that after college he quickly learned the financial world wasn't for him, so he took a few gemology courses because he had had a random conversation in college with someone who sometimes bought gems when they were vacationing, and that conversation left a mark on him. I personally love stories like that. People don't camp and socialize enough. I know I don't.
 
That's one of my favorite places I've ever been. When I lived in Minnesota, it was a short 4-hour drive, so we would go up there a few times a year. snowshoe backpacking in January is one of my fondest backpacking memories. sure, it was COLD, but we had the entire park to ourselves. Blissful solitude. It really is an untapped treasure, but the people who know, know. And as I understand it, one of, if not the only, remaining bits of old growth forest in the Midwest. I can't remember the trail name right now, but it's the one that mostly hugs the lake shore.
I was a guide up there for about a decade and have solo-packed just about every inch of it. It's even in my will that my ashes are to be deposited on Lafayette Peak. Here's a pix of my friend and I compacting the snow for our tent. Then we decided to "stage" a picture so I jumped on my back, the group burred me and took this pix. I still make it back for a 10-12 day solo packing trip every fall, late September into early October, during the color peak.

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