Sunday, July 19, 2009

NCT MI-05 Baxter Bridge Rd. to High Rollaways(Feb).

It was Sunday, February 8th, it was clear and it was cold. It was a perfect day to go snowshoeing on the North Country Trail. In the winter time the trail has such a different look and feel about it. Today I was to start my hike at Baxter Bridge Rd. and go towards the High Rollaways. The hike is just less than 3 miles each way and has some really nice climbs going towards the west. This hike has so many incredible views and is very much accessible from a few different directions. I have found it nice to move east to west and conquer the uphill pulls in the first part of this hike. The hike starts in just north of the Baxter Bridge crossing of the Manistee River. From the trailhead you immediately enter a mixture of beech and oak trees. There are many new growth beech in here. The bark is so smooth and almost looks blue. Within five minutes you walk out of the woods and see some hemlock shrubs on the banks overlooking the Manistee River. You can't help but look ahead at the incredible highbank in the distance. It always reminds me of Diamondhead on Oahu. It sticks out like a sore thumb in the distance ahead and to the south. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the tip of it. And off to your left and south you overlook the area Mewatauka lies in. The river has an immpressive bend right from the start on this hike. The bends only get better. From most places on this hike the river is in full view as there are no leaves to block the view. The trail drops after just a few minutes on the lowbanks. It dips down to the low land where a stream comes in and a nice wooden footbridge crosses it. It the spring with the melt off and the thaw this area becomes part of the Manistee in most years past. The trail starts to come out of the valley and the Manistee River comes into full view again, this bend is a nice one also.
Because it has been so cold the river banks are frozen towards the center.
It makes for a nice picture. I take advantage of this opportunity and have a seat on a log and listen to the ice move down the river. It is impressive and sounds slushy. It breaks the silence. You can't here these noises and see this beauty unless you are here. I also see deer tracks out on the ice here. The trail now turns north and away from the river and won't be seen until you reach the high peak further on in the hike. You start to lose the sound of the river and it gets incredibly silent. You start to climb a small hill and about half way up all I hear is my heartbeat and my breathing. I was very warm at this point. I learned something on this hike also, not to overdress. I always make sure I have plenty of water and snacks for any length of hike I take. The trail starts to move into a long valley that you walk along, not up or down. In the spring and summer this is an incredible valley. The perfect green all around you and I have pictures to prove it! But right now it is fluffy and white and silent. No bugs,no bears. I do see deer every now and again here. The trail starts to climb up, up and up. The sun is peaking through and really making it bright. I am excited and giddy to be here. It seems I can't get enough of this.

From the high point the trail again leaves the sight of the river and heads back into the woods and through a few small up and downs. This area has been mostly hardwoods. At about two and a half miles into this trek they trail and woods ahead are silohuetted by the sun in the distance. The trail walks to the edge of the highbanks and off to the right or north is the platform at the Highbanks Rollaways overlook area. I pause for a minute and almost start running to the platform. I arrive and look down at the river and believe it or not it is completely frozen over. It looked like a highway. I could not believe my eyes. This is something you will not

see unless you get out to see it. It is amazing. It is here I build a small warming fire and have my lunch. It is peaceful here. I see an eagle following the river here. I finish up and my hike ends when I walk to the roadway on County Line Rd. and my wife picks me up and drops me back at my van. She is a grand woman. I am the lucky one.

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