A few weeks back while hiking the North Country Trail a few miles south and west of Kingsley, along the Manistee River, I came across a concrete marker that read"old Indian trail, Cadillac to Traverse City" with a number 16 on it. Seeing these thing along a trail is pure excitement. This marker is the last thing I would have thought I would have come across out here. But now it does make sense to me. After that hike I returned home and one night that week, I was talking with my neighbor and mentioned that stone and she knew all about it and a fair amount about the trail. My neighbors are the Bowdens. They are incredible. Phil is 92ish and Betty is 88ish. They have lived here all their lives and Phil worked the rivers in this area way back when. We are so lucky and blessed to have them as neighbors, they truly are the best. So with the story from Betty and making mention of it to a co-worker the next day, a plan was put in motion. I will call my co-worker Dan.
It took a few weeks to arrange a day and Saturday August 22nd was to be the day. The forecast was for rain, but it had been rainy and cloudy and cold for days anyway, so that surely was not going to stop us. I run at the chance. And you know what happens when it rains on the trail, you simply just get wet. We met at my place mid-day. Upon arriving at the trailhead we noticed the sky starting to clear slightly, things are already going our way. We had just shoulder our packs and I was making sure the van was secure, I heard Dan shout out, "Hey man look at this", It was a $10 dollar bill. It was right in the middle of the NCT. We had to hike west on the NCT for a few minutes to get to the marker. It appears that the the indian trail headed north and south, whereas the NCT heads east and west. The plan was to go south and towards the Manistee River and try to find a place called Indian Crossings. We started on a faint path and eventually that faint path disappeared and with our compass we tried to stay mostly south and west a litlle. The trail dropped quickly from the highbanks and within five minutes we were in low lying lush hardwoods not disturbed by anything. Just green and the perfect shade all around us. It was evident the deer liked this area. Mushrooms were everywhere. Nothing was dry like with summers past. Everything was just enjoying the wet somewhat cool summer. I felt invited as I am sure Dan did too. It felt like we were supposed to be here. We didn't really have to bushwhack our way through the woods everything was very open and very comfortable walking. At least for now it was. Not long after we got comfortable walking throught the open part of the woods we came to a transition from hardwoods to Redpines and then eventually to Cedars. Monster Cedars all around us. We knew our direction and we knew the Manistee River was close. We did not really have anything else to go on other than a guess of where the indians may have crossed. I did research it a little and the most I could find was an article saying that it took 800 pounds of dynamite to unplug a log jam created somewhere near the point of crossing. We walked west and could see that the river was just ahead a few minutes and walked upon a county marker. It was a corner marker marking the four corners of public land. Marker was intact and legible. At this point we stopped for a break and I pulled out my Wexford county map and we were able to pinpoint our location. This was helpful because the Manistee River is incredible by the way in which it flows. We continued on and up ahead in the distance,
Today was not going to be the day we found Indian Crossings. We did though get out and scout and search a little bit. We did though get out and enjoy the richness of our resources right here. We had laughter and we had fun. This was a most enjoyable hike. We actually made money this trip out. Cannot ever really say that last line. The trip back to the van was quick and to the point. We had an uphill pull and came out exactly where we needed to. We will continue this search another day and maybe try to find more of the trail. Wouldn't it be neat to follow an "old indian trail".