Saturday, January 29, 2011

Into the Wilderness!

Did you see the movie - "Into the Wild"?  Well, this is sorta like that in just 3 days!  Four rugged men head out into the Wilderness for a 3 day cross country ski trip.  We will only take in what we can carry in on our backs ............................  and on the toboggan.

We arrive and drive to our trailhead.  Here we park the car and start packing.

*Remember to click on any picture to enlarge it.

We decide we will have to make two trips.  The cabin is 2 miles down the trail.

This is Nebo Trail Head.  We were the first campers this week so the ranger takes a snowmobile and grooms the trail.  That was nice but since he was going to the cabin he could take a load in.  ...Ha, Ha...this is what we came for....hard work and a long trek into the wilderness.

Nebo Trail to Nebo Cabin - 2 miles.

This was prior to the grooming.

We are packed for the first trip in.  That is 2 miles into the cabin, unload, then 2 miles back out to the parking lot, and 2 more miles back to the cabin.  Then we can start skiing.

John is lightening the load for the first trip in.

Remember the toboggan goes under the gate.  We can't wait.  Into the Wilderness!

Here I am ready for the trip with my backpack.  Phil is the Captain of the Lighthouse boat and FILA board member.  You can see the snowmobile blazing the trail for us to the cabin.  Having the groomed trail really helped the job of going in and out. 

My brother, Gary, was ready.  He did several, multiple miles practice runs before this trip to get in shape.  I wish I had!

The woods had this nice trail to the cabin.  Two sets of tracks, go in on the right and out on the left.  It didn't matter, nobody was on the trail and the forest was quiet.  Actually we did see one skier go by and then return but other than that, we had the whole place to ourselves.

Is this the cabin?  What? No windows?     No, that is the outhouse.  It is close to the trail so the Rangers can come by and service it once a season or so.  The cabin is up the hill behind the outhouse.

Home sweet home.  Gary is getting the water pump primed so we can get set up.  The cabins were built by the CCC way back in the 1930s?.  The cabin is very tight and has a wood floor.

A nice wood stove and 5 beds( two bunk beds) along the far wall.

The table had two benches and two chairs.  The mattresses were vinyl covered firm ones that could survive in the wilderness.

The front, left side of the cabin was for the kitchen stuff.  No running water, no electric lights, no curtains, no sink, but all you need for a campout.  I had a small candle lantern that I fixed above the kitchen area.

I had a single mantle gas lantern above the table but next time, I'll just bring the candle lantern as it worked so well.

This was one of two stacks of firewood outside the cabin.  We moved wood up beside the door and some inside the cabin.  Once we fired up the woodstove, it was plenty warm inside.  We opened the windows a crack all the time we were there.  It was so warm we let the fire burn out after going to bed.  In the morning, Phil would shout out "Hey,'s time!"  Gary would jump out of the sleeping bag and!...

This is the view from the picnic table in front of the cabin down the hill towards the outhouse.

This was the fast pit stop area.  You did not linger here long.  You did your business and got out!  No reading on this John.

A problem arose when washing the meal dishes.  We had a flat top on the stove so a pail of water was always there and hot.  We would use bread or tea bags to clean out the majority of the leftovers and then wash the stuff inside the cabin.  Then you would go outside and scoop some snow to rinse the dishes.  One problem.  There was lots of yellow snow around the front of the cabin so we carefully found fresh WHITE snow to rinse with.

Phil and Gary ready to ski.  It was nice to ski in the quiet area.  We saw animal tracks but didn't see any animals during the day.  Later, will be another story.

You will note that Gary and I both had hydration pacs.  Phil and John were more experienced outdoorsmans and they were minimalists.  They traveled light.

We headed south of the cabin on Nebo Trail and then turned East on South Boundary Trail.  Then we turned North on Swamp Line Road and  crossed Big Sucker Creek and then Big Stone Creek.  There we took the Red Pine Trail back towards Nebo Trail.  You can see one of the wooden bridges we crossed on this trail.

Gary just crossed the bridge.  Note that the wide former trail is now a small single file trail that was described as undulating.  We found out what that meant!

Note the blue blaze on the tree.  This is part of the North Country Trail that goes from New York , PA, Ohio, MI, Wisc, Minn, and North Dakota - will stretch over 4,000 miles.

John is also on the South Fox Island Lighthouse Assocation ( and his buddy, Terry was meeting us at the cabin around noon.  This was to be a nice 6-7 mile morning ski.  John and Phil were way ahead and would be right on time to meet Terry.  Gary was ahead of me and I was skiing alone across this undulating trail.

Gary was waiting on the dam/bridge.  Now I wasn't alone any more. 

Gary took my picture and you can see the nice stream in the background.

Off we went towards the undulating part of the trail. 

Gary got ahead again as I stopped to take pictures.

You can see the narrow trail through the Red Pine forest.  It was a lovely trail, I thought, at this point.

This trail is going up!  It is not too steep but I can see sets of herringbone tracks going up.  That means that it is a little steep and you have to climb it.  Whee, that was fun and on the other side and hill going down.  Fun!  I managed to get downhill and carried on .  There were about 6 more of these, each a little steeper.  I managed to make about three hills and fell near the bottom of the rest to avoid trees, turns or a pond.  Cross country skis do not turn as easily as downhill.

I took a picture of this tree stump.  The birds were busy here.  It was getting tougher as I skied along.  I was about 3 1/2 hours into this morning jaunt and knew I was behind the guys.  Finally I reached the top of the last hill before Nebo Trail.  I took my skis off and walked down.  As tired as I was I didn't want to fall again.  Being alone at this stage, because I was slower, I couldn't risk an injury.  Besides, I knew they were having lunch.  OK, on I go.  It only takes about 20 minutes to get to the cabin.

Wow, it sure is nice to see the familar sight of the outhouse.  That means home is near!

Terry was there at the cabin and lunch was on.

Phil had made homemade chili and cornbread.  Plus we had that box of red wine to empty before we head out.  

The guys were discussing the afternoon ski outing.  We had just done a 6-7 mile loop but they wanted to do a big loop.  I was tired and my hip and knee were sore so I opted out to read and relax.  John and Phil decided to try the outermost boundary trail which would be about 12 miles or so.  Gary and Terry said they would ski 1/3 of the way and then come back and ski to the parking lot to take Terry's car over to the most NW part of the park and then ski down to meet the guys around Sturgeon Cabin.  That would save John and Phil from doing 6 more miles.  They took off at 2:30 pm.

Down the trail south towards the South Boundary Trail went John, Phil, Terry, and Gary.  I read for 2 hours and brought in more firewood.  Then I got dressed and started to ski down to meet Gary and Terry on their way back.  It wasn't long before I met them.  When we got back to the cabin, Gary said he was going to stay as his hip was bothering him.  He had skied about 14 miles so far that day.  Terry had vision in only one eye and was having catarack surgery in the morning.  Terry had to ski 2 miles north and get his car and drive 4 miles west and park and ski down towards Sturgeon Cabin to meet the guys.  It was about 4:30 pm by now. 

Gary decided to ski up to Mt Nebo.  He was gone about 1 hour and took this picture of what is left of the fire tower.  It was getting dark as Gary arrived.  We did a few more cabin chores, drank  some wine, read and waited for the guys to return for dinner at 7:00 pm.

About 7:30 pm we started wondering where the guys were.  It was very dark out, no moon light to travel by.  Did the guys have a flashlight?    8:00 pm and no guys.  Now we started wondering about what could have happened to them.  By 9:00 pm we decided that either the guys had gone out with Terry to get a flashlight and have dinner in town or they went to Terry's house and would return in the morning.  About 9:30 pm we went to bed and shut out the lights.  Around 10:00 pm we heard some shouting outside.  I lit the lanterns and in came John and Phil.  They got to Sturgeon Cabin and saw only one set of ski tracks and knew Gary didn't come with Terry.  They skied up to the parking lot on the NW end of the park and no cars.  The guys did not have water and only two granola bars with them.  They did not have lights.  They had skied about 12 miles and were about 6 miles from the cabin and it was very dark.  They were tired after skiing all morning and all afternoon and part of the night.  Did I mention that there was no cell phone service?  They said they could just barely make out the trail and started to falter as they came to the curve by the cabin.  They thought they heard sounds and lights as they were near the end but wasn't sure.  John saw a coyote.

Gary and I had made dinner about 8:30 pm and we gave them semi-warm spaghetti and fettuccine sauce.  They were very de-hydrated.  We were all so thankful that this had a happy ending.  We talked for a bit and then it was "lights out".

Next morning we started packing up and cleaning the cabin.   Oatmeal, raisins, nuts for breakfast. 

We survived the wilderness.  Oh, wait!  We have to pack up the tobaggon and ski 2 miles out the cars, unload, ski 2 miles back to the cabin, load up and ski 2 miles back to the car.  Off we go.  The snow was wet and sticky on the way out.  The last trip out the tracks were slightly frozen and the glide was perfect.  We were moving right along on the last trip out.  Maybe we should ski another loop?   .......................

We packed up the cars.

We were already talking about our next outing.  Phil and John are both captains and have sailing boats.  They are always up for an adventure.  What do you think?  Where should we go?    Want to join us next time?

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like quite an adventure. Thanks for the invite but I'll pass.

    Dave McCoy