The plan was to map something useable. Something we could use as a training route for people new to overlanding. Training and experience type events are down the road still, but I like planning ahead. The plan for our shake off the dust trip did not go according to plan.
Our Friday meetup in Cadillac went without out a hitch. We spent about an hour and a half in the Meijer parking lot talking and walking rigs. Sometime around 6:30 – 7 we gathered up, discussed the plan for the night, and moved out. There wasn’t going to be much daylight left so we made a beeline for camp.
The first hiccup came running down M55 and getting to a closed road. Now, this is the part where I say I should have just listened to my wife and gone through. But of course, I didn’t. We diverted around and attempted to get to the campsite the back way but ended up at a creek that wasn’t able to be crossed.
We pushed on, back on the main roads and made it in to camp with a few hours of daylight left. The spot was a wide open area that easily accommodated the 11 or 12 rigs we had. In fact, we could almost have fit double that if we had too at some point. Everyone set up camp and started working on some dinner. After cracking a few beers and having some dinner, everyone did the obligatory walk around camp and chat.
Eventually we got a fire going, did some more BS’ing before finally calling it a night. At some point around midnight, I started to hear rumblings of exhaust in the distance. Sure enough, someone was out for a late night ride and felt the need to stop at our campsite. Of course they also decided to run their engine before finally taking off down the trail.
Morning started out a little chilly but by the time we broke camp it had warmed up to a comfortable temperature. After a quick brief on what we would be attempting we got everyone rolling and to the road. Our first drop in was just a short pavement drive north.
We pulled off the road and made sure we had everyone before proceeding north along the trail. Our initial drop in was pretty easy going. We stopped a short distance in for anyone who wanted to capture some video or pictures. At this point, Mike, who we were expecting to meet up with further north, had managed to catch us on the trail.
We moved on until we hit a clearing to stop for lunch. Turns out we ended up losing about half of the group at some point. Eventually we had everyone rallied in the clearing, made some lunch, and then continued on. This is where things started to go south. The next section of the trail was pretty much blocked every 50-100 feet by downed trees. We did our part and cleared everything as the trail become more and more narrow.
Eventually we hit a large enough tree that we could not clear. After consulting the map, it also turned out that the last 100 feet of trail cut through the middle of someone’s property. Whether the tree was deliberately put down to block access or not, we still had to back everyone up and turn back round. We trucked back the way we came to the clearing before realigning and heading to where we were supposed to come out and back into the woods.
This put us at the the northernmost loop of the route. We dumped in to the trail, making our way along until we were supposed to hit a turn to the north. Unfortunately, what showed in the satellite was no longer there. The current route we were on looked like it hit a dead end, but we decided to move on anyway.
The trail turned into this really cool valley for a short distance. It would have been great for it to continue through, but it ended at a pretty awesome campsite overlooking a river. Which, unfortunately was full. We marked it for another time and once again turned around, heading back the way we came.
I made the decision because of the time to head back to camp for the evening. We were camped in a spot that had a good amount of trails around it for anyone who wanted to partake. The rest of the evening was highlighted by sitting around the fire and BS’ing late into the night.
Sunday morning there was no real rush to get moving. Breakfast and coffee was made before we packed up and decided to find some trails. At this point we were lighter by about half of our group with only 5 or 6 of us left. I decided to hit the middle line of the planned figure 8 and make our way back to the Cadillac area. We hit a good amount of fire and dirt roads but did get into some tight trails.
Eventually, we parted ways with the group around noon and headed back for home. Despite the weekends apparent failure (to me at least) I did get to meet some of the people I’ve interacted with online. As I might have stated before, that’s what I get enjoyment out of. Meeting other people who enjoy overlanding and getting outdoors.