North Manitou Island, May 2-4, 2003
In what has become an annual outing, we headed to Leland early Friday morning to catch the ferry to the island. The trip over proved to be a bit rough as the strong northeast wind kicked up some hefty swells. Two unfortunate passengers were overcome with a bout of seasickness. Fortunately, the new engine recently installed in the ferry allowed the crossing to be made in just under an hour (down from the 75-90 minutes it used to take). The skies remained clear all weekend which made for beautiful days and cold nights.
The first thing I noticed about the island this year was how far behind the wildflowers were. They were just starting to poke their heads up. In past years it was common to see incredible spreads of flowers. Apparently the cold Spring has held them up. There would be no mushroom hunting this visit.
This year we did more in-depth exploration of the southeast side of the island, opting to learn more of the intimate details of the island in preference to covering mileage. We were pleased to see that some of the buildings on the island are being renovated. Bourniques' home is one of the more interesting structures, and it looks like it is receiving a lot of care. We explored the homestead there, finding more structures that we hadn't seen previously. We searched for the north end of the Miller Road Trail and found it, although we didn't know for sure at the time.
Kathy after lunch by Bourniques
Camp the first night was set up in a field south of Bourniques' that provided great cushioning and early exposure to the morning sun. Water collection that evening was painful, as we were forced to wade out to knee level to avoid the sand being stirred up by the wave action. The waves managed to get us wet to the waist level. After drying out and warming up, we gave the hammocks a try. They were quite comfortable, but as the temperatures dropped into the 40's, the cold started to penetrate from underneath. We retreated to the ground. My little thermometer showed the temperature dropped below 20° F. that night! There was a hard frost everywhere, and our water froze. Our only visitor in camp that night was a large deer I spotted during a late night bathroom break.
Testing a couple hammocks
The next day we hiked around the southeast corner of the island, skirting the closed Piping Plover nesting area on Dimmick's Point, to Miller's Beach. After some searching, we located the southern end of Miller's Road trail and took it north, confirming that we had located the northern end the prior day. We camped that night south of the old apple orchard on the eastern shore of the island. Water collection was easier there due to the cobblestone shoreline--we didn't need to wade out far, and the waves were almost non-existent. That evening we watched the colors of the sunset reflected off the dunes on the mainland and a pair of loons playing in the water. The temperature only dropped to the low 30's that night, with no wind.
Miller Beach as seen after rounding Dimmick's Point. South Manitou Island is visible in the distance.
The trip back to the mainland was about as smooth as possible. Lake Michigan was unusually calm. All-in-all a fun trip!
Steve waiting for the ferry to arrive at the ranger station