Matt and I had originally planned to head up to Mackinac Island this past Sunday. Long story short, our bikes weren’t ready in time, so we opted to save a little money and find something to do locally, instead.
My friend Becca, ultrarunner extraordinaire, likes running trails at the Pinckney Rec Area. I texted her on Saturday afternoon asking if the park was good for hiking. She said it absolutely was, so Matt and I made plans to spend Sunday there, instead.
I didn’t get back from my mom’s house until pretty late on Saturday, so Matt and I went to the grocery store around 11pm to get some things to bring for a picnic on Sunday. The store at that time of night was pretty empty, which was kind of cool. We grabbed some corned beef, swiss cheese, and rye bread for sandwiches, along with premade macaroni and potato salads, raspberries, and blackberries. Then we had fun picking out insulated lunch boxes in the back-to-school section. In other words, he chose something right away and I spent a long time worrying that I would somehow choose the “wrong” one.
On Sunday morning, we slept in till close to 10 o’clock. We had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast before heading out around noon. It was a half hour drive to the park through as country as it gets in southeast Michigan. When we arrived, there was no wait for park entry. I just bought my state park pass (which is now good until my license plate tabs expire next year!) and we were on our way. Parking was a piece of cake and we got out on the trails right away. We left our phones in the car, so I didn’t get any pictures. I just wanted to enjoy the hike and not worry about technology. 🙂
We started off on a three-mile foot-traffic-only loop. We didn’t see anyone else the whole time, until the very end when we were exiting the trail and someone else was entering it. For the most part, the trail was just wide enough for two people to walk side by side. It had plenty of hills and, to me, it almost felt like we were out in the wilderness. I believe I actually said, “This is Pure Michigan.” The hike reminded Matt of going to cross country camp in high school, so we had a very interesting conversation about that. I wish I had had the experience of cross country in high school, but what’s done is done, and I had many other unique opportunities. 🙂
After that first loop, which took about an hour, we went back to the car to use bug spray (we forgot for the first trail and the flies were eating me alive) and to grab our lunches. We found a nice picnic table up on a hill in the shade by the lake. The lake area was pretty crowded, so plenty of people-watching opportunities abounded! My favorite was the little girl carrying a raft as big as she was on her head.
After lunch, we went back out onto another trail, this one about five miles long and partially open to mountain bikers. We saw a lot more people this time, mostly runners and mountain bikers. Everyone was very friendly, and luckily the trail was usually just wide enough for us to get out of the way. Just when we were starting to get annoyed by the mountain bikers, we stopped seeing any. I do think it’s really cool to watch them do what they do, but it can be a little frightening to be a hiker on a trail where they are moving quickly.
The second trail was even hillier than the first, or maybe my legs were just more tired. No matter what, I loved the challenge, and it felt so good to be out there. However, by the end, after 8+ miles of hiking, along with walking to and from the car multiple times, I was more than ready to go home. We stopped at a gas station so I could get a donut and Matt could get a slurpee. Then we drove to Matt’s house where I relaxed for maybe half an hour before getting hungry again. I went home, made dinner, and fell asleep at 8:30pm.
All in all, it was an amazing day, and I would love to do it again. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day after challenging myself.