Backpacking at Negwegon - July 2022
To prepare for the Negwegon group trip in August, I decided to spend a couple of days at the park with my partner and a friend, relaxing and doing a bit of hiking. I was also meeting up with another friend who is knowledgeable about the Native American rock structures in the park; we were going to try to locate them.
I had seen online that the park is open to metal detecting on the shoreline and wanted to give it a shot with a new metal detector when we arrived in the late afternoon. The water is still quite cold this time of year, but I was able to warm up enough by swimming. Despite swimming quite far with the detector, I only found two things: a pair of sunglasses that were on the surface of the water, and one carabiner that the metal detector found. It’s the emptiest place I’ve ever detected at! I assume the less-than-ideal water temperature and remote location keeps most swimmers away.
Karisma has a lower tolerance than I do for cold water (my standards for good swimming places are very low because of all the marina diving that I do), so she was mostly hanging out on the beach. Unfortunately for her, the biting flies were extremely aggressive at the waterline! Before long, we decided it was time to head to our campsite.
We packed up our bags and walked to the site, just about two miles away. South Point is a pretty, rocky area. I’ve hiked and kayaked to it several times but had never camped there before. The campsite faces the prevailing winds, which was refreshingly cool and did a great job keeping the bugs away. In the colder months it might not be as nice, but the area is perfect for summer. At the shore of the campsite, I did spot a juvenile bald eagle, flying in the direction of a nest.
After setting up our camp, I cooked dinner while we waited for our friend Tiff and her dog to arrive. Dinner was a new recipe, a lentil curry. I like dehydrating curries, they are low in fat (important for the drying process), easy to make in bulk, and simple to turn into tasty meals. I’ll be serving this meal on this year’s upcoming group backpacking trips as well.
We played a few card games once Tiff arrived (using rocks to hold down the cards), had a bonfire, and watched the stars for a while before bed. Sunset is late this time of year, but when it’s finally dark the stars are incredible. The next day, we packed up our lunches and swimsuits and took the long more rustic way back to the parking lot to go for a swim. Part of the trail at Negwegon is closed from April to mid-July for bald eagle nesting, and it had just opened for the year. Because of this, the trail was very overgrown.
I looked for the eagle nest, hoping for another sighting, but couldn’t spot it. We did see plenty of wildlife though, mostly of the insect variety but also woodpeckers, chipmunks, and deer. Some stretches had significant poison ivy, long grass, and blackberry bushes on the trail. My legs ended up more scratched up than I would have expected, and we all fed the mosquitos. This section of trail is somewhat low lying and swampy, and the mosquitos really enjoy it, much more so than the forest along the way to the campsite.
The later stretch of that trail is through nice open forest and feels much cooler than the grassy meadows; we were happy to reach it and even happier to get to the parking lot. We changed and went to the beach, bringing towels as armor against the biting flies while we ate lunch. Of course the water hadn’t gotten any warmer, but it was nice to cool off after the humid five-mile hike.
As we walked back to the campsite (taking the short, forested trail!), it was about time for me to meet John. I have been corresponding with for a while, and I was looking forward to meeting him and looking for the rock structure in this park. He was a little early and was waiting at the bench by the campsite, dressed better for the mosquito conditions than I was. Mosquitos don’t find me very appealing, so unless it is prime mosquito time, I often just wear shorts and use bug spray and do poison ivy washes.
Having little interest in rock walls for some reason, Karisma and Tiff stayed behind to nap. The general area of the rock structures was closer to the campsite than I expected, about a five- or ten-minute walk. Even with the tall summer vegetation, John was able to get us close to the structure and we only wandered in the woods for a little while before finding it. The area has heavy foliage, but the rocks are unmistakably created by humans. The belief is that the walls were used by Native Americans as a fish weir when Lake Huron was higher. It was very enjoyable to see them and to hear a bit about them. Thanks John!
When I got back to the campsite, my companions were still lazing in their tents. I decided to join the relaxing and read my book for a while after washing any poison ivy oils off. I was interested in wading in the lake, but as we had discovered earlier while filtering water, the rocks in the water are astonishingly slippery with algae. I only walked in cautiously enough to cool off. After a coffee and some rest, I went to explore South Point, which is a long sandy spit with rocky edges. I love the area and can spend a long time looking at the fossils that can be found there.
When Karisma arose from her nap, we made dinner and the three of us went for a walk along the sandy shoreline towards the rest of the campsites. Before long it got quite rocky and the going was slow. Tiff decided to turn back with her dog, but I reminded Karisma that people like long walks on the beach; they are considered romantic. I thought it would be fun to walk to the next campsite via shoreline, probably less than a mile. She did agree, because who could argue with romance, but did not love the bushwhacking that ensued. Walking in the water would have been easier, but the rocks were too slippery with algae. To top it off, a snake popped out of the rocks. Then a second snake. Then Karisma, who has a certain amount of snake phobia, realized that we were passing a snake nest!
But we did make it to our goal without real incident and arrived at our own site before dark via the path. As we packed up the next morning, I could not find my collapsible cooking pot and bowl, which nests inside the pot. The pot lid locks shut on top, closing the bowl inside. Although I was reasonably sure I had put it in the tent vestibule the night before, I figured maybe this was a case of disorganization and it was somehow in one of our packs.
About to head out, with everything packed up, I did a final lap around the campsite to take a last look for the pot just in case. And sure enough… it was among the underbrush in the woods bordering the site! It had some claw marks on it; I think a racoon found it and thought it was a container that it should explore in the privacy of the trees.
It was a short walk back, and then a longer drive home. All in all it was a very enjoyable couple of days, and I look forward to the upcoming trips at this park and the Porcupine Mountains. There are still a couple of spaces left on these trips, you can register here if you’re interested.
Photos are below, some with captions.