04-Nov-2001 -- Thanks to the wonderful site memepool.com, I discovered the Degree Confluence Project. After spending countless hours reading through fascinating write-ups, I decided I'd like to be a part of the project. I consider myself to be up to virtually any confluence point in the continental United States, having been to 46 of the 48 states already, but I was delighted to learn that several of the confluence points in my home state of Michigan have not yet been visited.
Earlier in the year I had purchased a Magellan Map 330 GPS and I decided I would also get a digital camera to accompany me on my trip so I mail ordered an Olympus C-3000 Zoom. I received the camera on November 1, 2001, and a 128 MB memory module on the following day, so everything was all set for me to leave on the Saturday the 3rd.
At this point I should probably backtrack and mention that I did quite a bit of research on the unvisited confluence points in Michigan. 46N87W looked like the obvious choice because it was in the Hiawatha National Forest and it didn't appear to fall on a body of water, though as it turns out it was in the middle of wetlands.
I had been planning on watching the Michigan-Michigan State college football game on television, but to avoid a lot of night driving I left Metropolitan Detroit at about 3:30 and tuned into the game on AM radio. In case you're interested, poor, possibly biased, officiating stole the game and the possibility of a national championship from Michigan.
I made a night crossing of the Mackinac Bridge and took the scenic dune route (US-2) along the south shore of the Upper Peninsula. I have a number of daylight pictures of this area I will put on my web page at some point. In any case, I tracked down 46N87W as closely as possible when I finally arrived some time around 8 o'clock and I made plans to find the exact location the next morning.
I stayed the night in Escanaba, which I found to be exceedingly dull. I'm sure it's because I arrived between the Fall color tours and snowmobile season, after the events of September 11 and during an anthrax scare.
At around 11 the next morning I headed into the National Forest and started by following the Rapid River ski trails as closely as possible. The weather was comfortable, an unseasonably warm 55 degrees and windy. Any snow that had fallen this season had melted. I think I picked the perfect time of year for my expedition, because it was after the leaves had fallen, the weather wasn't too cold, and it was before deer rifle hunting season.
The closer I got to the confluence point, the more iffy it looked, but I managed to cross a peat bog, blunder down a fairly steep escarpment, and pick my way through a swamp that luckily was dry enough to be traversed.
In picture one you can see the the swamp, a trail, and the old growth forest. As I was pinpointing the confluence point, I ran into the nearest property owner, Carl Johnson. He informed me that I was on state land and that I was not trespassing on his property, further up the trail.
Mr. Johnson informed me that he was born in the nearby town of Gladstone and that this land had been in his family since 1922. He was born in 1921 and had been coming up this way with his family for decades. This particular excursion was to put feed out for deer, which according to Carl have little to snack on owing to the age and height of the nearby trees. He invited me to lunch with his family, but unfortunately I was a bit pressed for time so I didn't make it. He gave me permission to cross his property as a shortcut back to the National Forest and my car so I bid him adieu and thanks after snapping his picture.
So then I hiked for about another 45 minutes back to the car and snapped pictures of the private property and National Forest markers on my way back.
I had an excellent time and I highly recommend the Hiawatha National Forest if you're considering a summer or winter trip to the unspoiled wilderness of Michigan.