The Road Less Traveled

Northwoods Journal

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The plan for today was to drive up to Cheboygan State Park to hike some of the trails there.  We thought we were going to have to change our plans because when I got up Mark told me that none of the dogs wanted to eat, not even Milo!  Any time Milo refuses food, alarm bells go off because he’s the most food obsessed dog I have ever seen.  Mark said Milo and Daisy were both eating a lot of grass and Milo definitely had rumblies in his tumbly.  We talked over our options – changing our plans and staying around here, going but leaving the dogs behind or going and just taking Daisy and Ruby.  I went ahead and packed our picnic lunch and we settled on just taking Daisy and Ruby.  Of course, when it came time to walk out the door, leaving Milo no longer seemed like a viable option, so we took him, too, and hoped for the best.

Mark always prefers to take the scenic route, so when we looked at the map yesterday we planned our route accordingly.  We knew it could be a bit dicey, taking secondary roads through the state forest.  We went north out of Onaway, around Black Lake and Black Mountain (is there really a mountain there?).  Things were going along fine until we got north of Black Mountain and then the roads on the map didn’t quite line up with the dirt roads in reality, plus a lot of the trails weren’t marked.  Somehow we got off course and ended up heading west when we thought we were headed north and we missed a turn.  We ended up in a little town called Alverno, where we pulled over and consulted the gazzeteer once again.  We were at the intersection with Orchard Beach Road which looked like it would take us to Alpena State Highway, which ended at US23.  So, off we went.  Soon Orchard Beach Rd. – just a dirt track to begin with – became more and more narrow until it wasn’t much more than an ATV trail.  It was all dense forest, we only passed one residence.  Eventually it ended at a place where several other trails came in and we took a left, hoping we were on Alpena State Highway but having no way of knowing for sure.  Would a “state highway” be nothing more than a two-track?  I tried to pull up the navigation app on my phone with no success.  What started out as a narrow dirt trail did widen up and eventually we came across more vehicles, so we figured we were “on the right road”.  High fives when we reached US23 and our destination!

At Cheboygan State Park we found the trailhead parking area and consulted the park map.  We decided to hike the green and blue trails.  The green trail is on the shore side of the woods, with wonderful views of Lake Huron.  We didn’t actually walk the trail, we walked the beach close to the water’s edge.  Of course the beagles took a little dip in the lake, but Ruby was very unsure of the waves and kept barking and howling at them.

Ruby, Daisy and Milo checking out Lake Huron.

Ruby, Daisy and Milo checking out Lake Huron.

From the walk along the shore you can see Poe Reef Light, Shoal Light and even the Mackinac Bridge.  There were several large sailboats out on the lake.  Oh, and you can also see Bois Blanc Island.  It was quite windy and cool but a very lovely hike.

Poe Reef Light

Poe Reef Light

Shoal Light and sailboats.

Shoal Light and sailboats.

Sailboat in front of the Might Mackinac Bridge.

Sailboat in front of the Might Mackinac Bridge.

I liked this photo because you can see the Mackinac Bridge in the background.  Click on any photo for a larger view.

We didn’t walk all the way to Cheboygan Point.  We stopped at a bench near the ruins of the old Cheboygan Point Lighthouse where we had a lovely view of the lake, the bridge and the Shoal Light and ate some trail mix and gave the dogs some water.  Then we went inland to check out the ruins of the old lighthouse before taking the blue trail back to the parking area.  The woodland trail was thick with mosquitoes (they hadn’t bothered us a bit on the beach) and I was glad I had remembered to put the mosquito repellent in the backpack.

The old Cheboygan Point Light ruins.

The old Cheboygan Point Light ruins.

Back at the FJ we agreed we weren’t really hungry for lunch, even though it was well past lunchtime.  We headed back south on US23, along the shore of Lake Huron.  We were going to stop at a scenic overlook to eat but the one we stopped at the tables weren’t on the water, so we kept going.  Soon we had to make our turn toward Black Mountain so we decided to stop at Onaway State Park to eat.  Onaway State Park is on the southern tip of Black Lake.  We had the picnic grounds to ourselves.  It was very windy and quite cold.  I had to get my fleece jacket out of the car and then still sat there shivering as we ate.  We discussed how Black Lake and Black Mountain got their names.  Is it from the dark green pines in the area that look almost black?  Is it from the black gunk that washes ashore with every wave that hits the beach?  Or was it from the black cloud that seemed to hang over the area?  There really was a black cloud right over the whole place.  We noticed it driving north and it was still there when we returned – even though it had been sunny and lovely up at Cheboygan.  I have to admit I wasn’t really impressed with Black Lake.  I didn’t find it to be pretty or picturesque at all.

Is this Black Mountain?

Is this Black Mountain?

Mark and I have been suffering with allergies all weekend and not really feeling ourselves.  By the time we got back to the cabin, I basically fell face down on the couch and went to sleep for an hour.  When I woke back up I felt refreshed enough to stick my nose back in my book.  Since even the dogs were worn out, Mark was content to let us spend the rest of the afternoon in quietude.  It was nearly 7 o’clock before we decided we should eat dinner.  Mark made a small fire and cooked us some BBQ pork chops on his tripod.

Had a small amount of bird activity at the feeders this afternoon – a few blue jays, a hairy woodpecker, goldfinch, chickadee, nuthatch, grackles, mourning dove and hummingbird.

Even though there was only about an hour of daylight left, Mark wanted to go for a short ride and do some rock picking.  We need more rocks for landscaping around our fire pit.  We saw five deer on our drive, one was a fawn just starting to grow out of its spots.  We didn’t find too many rocks.  Not because we couldn’t find them – up here rocks are everywhere – but it was too hard to see the nice ones in the gloom of dusk.  I’m really picky about the rocks we choose!

We didn’t even bother with dishes tonight.  Once again, it was after 11:30 before we turned off the lights.

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2 Responses to The Road Less Traveled

  1. My family came from Germany at the turn of the last century and settled in Cheboygan. I believe there is a street named “Schmidt’ near the family farmland, and many still live there. My dad makes the trek every year but I have not yet been able to join him. Now I feel as if I’ve been there by reading your post. Thank you for this!


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