The opportunity came as when I suddenly switched assignments at work, which allowed me to get away on Memorial Day weekend. I decided where I was leaving on Wednesday evening, and left bright and early Friday morning, stopped at the grocery store and made the 6 hour trip to Porcupine Mountains State Park in the U.P. of Michigan.
I planned a few different routes I could take, depending on how my legs felt, knowing my first day would be about 7 miles.... and I ended up with a prime camping spot, right on Lake Superior.
Just being out there that night reset my internal batteries and made me infinitely more confident in my backpacking abilities.
The second day, I did my first real river crossing (The Big Carp River, who's bridge was out) and I walked an extra mile trying to find a shallower and wider spot to cross.
The river came up to mid-thigh on me in spots and I took the crossing very slowly, but it drained me mentally to the point that I took off my pack on the far side and sat down to relax for about an hour.
Hiking up onto the ridge, I followed the Big Carp Trail and ended up camping overlooking a valley above the Big Carp.
I decided with promises of grill outs coming on Memorial Day, to cut my trip a day short, and on Sunday I hiked to Mirror Lake and then back out to my car.
It was just shy of Mirror Lake when I started feeling angry, frustrated and downright exhausted. It's amazing how quickly you can lose that drive when backpacking. I sat down, ate some jerky and some trail mix and finished the last 4 miles of my hike without incident.
Definitely taught me that you have to keep the engine fueled, and I learned the early warning signs of when my engine starts to sputter.
One last trip up onto the ridge, and a crossing of the Little Carp river and I was back to my car for the long drive back to Milwaukee.