I left Freeland around 11 am Sunday, and after turning around two times because I forgot some essentials, I finally made my way up to Gaylord for a quick overnight. It was rainy when I left and cloudy when I got into Gaylord, but Weather Underground was telling me I was in for a good 18 hours of beautiful weather.
I stopped by White Birch Outfitters(WBO) for some local info and scored a nice pair of Kuhl pants that were on clearance. I got a paper map with suggestions on where to go from the owner, Casey Buckleitner.
I picked a spot near Black River and did about a mile hike down to this outdoor stove Casey told me about. I got back and decided to set up camp. I should have waited and gone exploring because a car did come by me later, as I was enjoying a Guinness, and they had just seen four elk in the field a 1/4 mile away. Oh well.
I had also stopped at Jay’s in Gaylord and picked up a Mr. Buddy heater because I knew the temps were going to be below freezing overnight. I didn’t sleep with it running in the Roof Top Tent (RTT), but it did warm things up a bit before I went to bed and made getting out of the sleeping bag easier in the morning.
After my beer and almost vegetarian chili, I sat in my rocking camp chair and enjoyed a little Glenlivet. The smoke from the fire and chilly weather reminded me of my trip to Scotland. With no road noise or cell service, it was a great way to unplug. I also had attempted a Swedish fire log but didn’t have metal wire, so I just stopped short of entirely splitting the log. I don’t think I had enough airflow from it not being split enough, and I ended up putting it on the fire. It really kicked out heat versus a solid log.
Weather Underground was right on with the weather. Clouds went away, and with a new moon, the stars quickly came out. I didn’t bring my tripod but made do with a flat piece of wood and my bag to get some 30-second exposure shots.
I heard more coyotes than I did last weekend near Manistee. When I was sitting by the fire, I would bang my hatchet against my shovel, and that seemed to quiet them down. It also made me feel better because I forgot to grab my 1911 when I left. During the night, they continued to howl/bark/whine about every 1/2 hour or so. But once I fell asleep, I didn’t hear them anymore.
Also, on this trip, I tried out using a marine battery to power my CPAP. I have mild sleep apnea, and after just one night without it in Hiawatha National Forest in July, I was dog tired the next day and had to stay at a state park with electricity in Copper Harbor. I finally got to use a thing Brett Ratell made to secure the power cord. I left the battery down in the annex and ran the cable up to the CPAP. I had the best night’s sleep camping outside a campground ever. A dual battery setup is in my future now.
I woke up around 6 am, and it was too dark and too cold for me to start my day. I fired up the little heater for a few minutes to warm up. Then I went back to sleep for another hour. I woke up, and the soft glow of light was coming through the tent fabric. I had some condensation inside, but I aired it out with a fan when I got home. I used the heater again in the annex while I made breakfast.
The fire had burnt out overnight, and I decided against starting another in the morning. I used my little Coleman stove in the annex, and along with the heater, it was nice and toasty. I had some pre-made cold brew coffee in the morning in my freebie yellow cup that AEV gave away at the 2018 open house. I love this cup. Cold and hot drinks are both good in it. After sipping some almost boiling cold brew, I ate some blueberry muffins and some warm oatmeal.
Packing up the tent always seems to take ten times longer than setting up and 31-degree temperatures didn’t help. But finally, I was all packed up, DNR camping form in a plastic bag under a rock on a piece of wood that was there before me, and I was on my way. Instead of just hitting Go Home on the GPS, I put in the rough location of the witness tree and elk viewing area #2. I took some seasonal roads to try to extend the day a little more before heading south. Again goose eggs on the elk sighting. Eventually, I made my way to Vanderbilt and I-75 and headed home.
This is definitely a place I want to go back to and explore more.