Grand Island – Lake Superior shrinkage…

Trout Bay

Sorry for the delay! There has been a ton of things going on including gradution and preparations to move to Bend, Oregon. The Midwest Outdoor Blog will be going through some changes in the coming weeks, but stay tuned!

We are headed to Grand Island in Lake Superior (Gitche Gumee) for some kayaking and backpacking fun as part of a midwest “Bucket List”. We will be some of the earliest campers/ paddlers on Grand Island’s shores, and the 40 degree water will be sure to make us feel fairly “puny”.

The plan is to take an open water kayaking course on Thursday, then tour the dramatic cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore that same afternoon. On Friday we will paddle across the channel to the island and spend the next two nights beach camping on the shore of Trout Bay in Lake Superior.

I will give a full update when we get back!

The Midwest – It’s Phlat!

People who live in areas where the ground actually has undulation maybe won’t be able to relate to this, but still it’s too funny not to share. Here in Mid-Michigan the latest craze has been Nordic Snowboarding or “XC Boarding”. Developed by flatlanders Joel Warren and Tate Evans, Cross Country Snowboarding’s roots are humble. But with an ever-increasing interest in recreation pushing the envelope, this one just may have some legs, especially in parts of the country where you can see your dog run away for 3 days.

Don’t take it from me, watch the 3 minute demonstration yourself. Just as promotional health host Cal Johnson, who decribes Cross Country Snowboarding as “a safe, low-impact cardio activity, with the great cool factor, to get you noticed on the nordic track.”

All Outfitters – One Stop Adventure Vaca Shop!

AllOutfitters


In our frenetic daily lives people want streamlined, organized, and easy to digest information right now, and at their fingertips. Consider the stats: 1 BILLION Google searches each day, and 41.6 MILLION searches an hour mean people have become used to finding the answer or resource they are searching for in a matter of seconds. We are spoiled in that way. Seriously, why waste time searching 15 sites? Imagine a website that acts as a search engine for outdoor hunting and adventure based trips?

Meet AllOutfitters.com. A comprehensive website launched in 2012 by two Midwestern brothers features the ultimate resource for hunting, fishing, wingshooting, and adventure outfitters. The complete resources of the website puts guides, lodges, and charters throughout North America literally at your fingertips, and would make Larry Csonka’s head spin.

AllOutfitters.com is the world’s largest online adventure directory featuring 15,000+ listings and counting, and doesn’t plan on stopping soon. The beauty of it is in the “social” aspect of it. All lodges/outfitters can have a listed profile, and just like Google, if you pay you will get “featured listing” status. Either way the connection to the information you need to make decisions is packaged up in front of you.

What I love the most is the ease of use, and often times websites miss the mark on simple, streamlined flow, and what users expect from their visit. Lately we have been shopping for a car, and sites like cars.com or vehix.com make the car shopping and research process a breeze. AllOutfitters takes this same concept in their easy browse and search functions called “Build A Trip”. Each trip selection that you choose based on sport and location will only display choices from your specific search and preferences of location and trip! You pick what you want, and the options come to you. How Google of them?! So whether you are wanting to knock down a Moose in ‘da Yukon, or slay some Marlin in the Caribbean while sipping a Landshark it’s all right here.

Results are presented with everything you need and all of their information listed (location, accomodations, methods, equipment, guides, seasons, limits, trip durations, prices, travel, weather, and what to bring). Also, they upload photo galleries as well as field reports which keep people up to date with anything they want, such as “check out this 50 inch muskie caught today, what a brute!”, or “limit of pheasant shot before 10 am” or maybe just to post daily fishing reports… whatever they want, and it’s all there.

AllOutfitters doesn’t plan on stopping with trips, all your field needs are addressed. Including a feature for “Gun Dog Breeders” to find your perfect companion when in the field! Check out AllOutfitters.com. Find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @AllOutfitters

Fire in the Sky

Lake Superior Northern Lights - credit Travis Novitsky

As we detailed in a post last Novemeber (click here) The Aurora Borealis is going APE in 2012-13! Because of increased solar flare activity the dancing lightshow has been visable in spurts in the northern latitudes since early March.

Here was the original post.

Did you now that an 11-year sun cycle that influences the intensity of Aurora Borealis (better known as the Northern Lights) will peak during 2012 and 2013? Perfect! Enough time to plan a trip to one of these two places, to catch a glimpse of the best Northern Lights show in the Lower 48.

Spending a night beneath this natural, psychedelic light show really ought to be on your backpacking bucket list, especially if you live in the Midwest! Really getting it right is key, and there are a couple of key factors that come into play when deciding where and when to go!

Part 1. Go NORTH! Duh…

Parts 2 & 3. Consider moon phase and equinox – This is because on a moonless night you will be able to see the phenomenon better, and equinox, because the Earth’s magnetic fields will align with the sun and it helps intensify the glow.To get north with ease consider heading back into the bush of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota, or the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both places should provide northern exposed views, and little – if any – light pollution.

Snowshoe deep into the lakeshore near the vernal equinox (March) or do it bug-free in the fall (September).

For Boundary Waters Minnesota, consider Angleworm Lake for low light pollution and camping spots on northern facing shorelines!
EJ

Caps Cabin- Wilderness State Park

The Straits

Growing up in the Rockies, I had the opportunity to stay several nights in rustic Forest Service cabins scattered throughout Southwestern Montana mountains.  These cabins offer the bare minimum giving you a roof over your head with a wood stove, tables, chairs, and bunks with plastic wrapped mattresses.  You bring what you need, and leave the place as you found it. These cabins offer the opportunity to get away, and get back to some of the basics of life:  Warmth, food, adventure, and a simple existance.

Often, when arriving at these cabins you will find kindling split for you by the previous visitor out of courtesy, and logs ready to burn just in case you make a late entry or approach in a storm.  You try to pass along this courtesy as you leave, and the next tenant makes their way in through snow and cold.

I was thrilled to hear of several rustic cabins located in Wilderness State Park at the tip of the Mitten (see below).  WSP is a 7,000 acre preserve located about 15 miles west of Mackinaw City, and the bridge to the Upper Peninsula.  The northern section of the park run along the Straits of Mackinc between the U.P. and Lower Penninsula, while to the west, Sturgeon Bay opens to fantastic Lake Michigan sunsets.

A few trails criss-cross the park, but most of it is left untouched giving a true wilderness experience only a few hours north of Michigan’s most populated cities.

Caps Cabin- WSP

Winter provides the most solitude and expect to ski a few miles after leaving your car at the end of the road (where plowing stops).  Rent one of the cabins from the DNR website, and be prepared to pack in what you need, on your back or via sled!

We arrived at the trailhead around 11:00pm after stopping to warm our bellies at a watering hole in Mackinaw, and had a 2 mile ski via headlamp on a single-digit crystal clear night.  The snow had iced over, so basically it was glorified ice skating!

After arriving at Caps Cabin, we spent some time getting a fire roaring (which was it’s own animal) and a few smoke-filled breaths later the cabin cast iron began to roar.  A few sips of wine and whisky helped lubricate the unwinding process and we were then able to settle in by collecting wood, and unpacking.  **(As an aside and a good FYI, the DNR doesn’t stock the cabins with an axe or a splitter because of “liability” reasons, which makes the collection of kindling tough…especially at 2:AM on an 8 degree night).

Inside of Caps- Tons of space

We awoke early and prepped some cowboy coffee and eggs to start the day right.  Strapping on skis, we were off to see what we could see in the park.  It was in the mid-30’s and our sunny day was spent exploring the park on skis and venturing onto the ice of the straits.  While the middle of the straits remained open, the stillwater near the beach had frozen solid and provided great buckled ice sculpture and exploring.   We followed the snowmobile trail to the end of the peninsula, where we popped off the skis and continued on foot.  Oddly enough we sat and had a couple beers on the beach, as we stared off onto the desolate Lake Michigan sea of ice completely alone!

After skiing about 10-12 miles total, we finally settled back into the cabin for the evening  The sunset on the ice that evening was beautiful, and the bookends provided were priceless.  To the west an amber sunset reflecting off lake ice for as far as we could see, and to the east the glowing lights of the Mackinc Bridge spanned the horizon.  We drank wine and played Blackjack until we had our fill and drifted off to a deep sleep fueled by vino, a warm down sleeping bag, and intense heat from the wood stove.

On the ice

If you can put together some gear, and have decent outdoor skills, you can make this same trip happen!  A true Michigan beauty that not many get to experience!

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Tip o' the Mitt