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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Five Days of Hell and almost eaten by Wolves!

And still the best time I've ever had on a bike and I'll do it again until I actually finish the tour I planned!

Intended tour: Perimeter of the UP of Michigan. 720 miles
Resultant tour: Paradise to Marquette, Mi through the National forest. 151 miles

OK, here goes, I met the manager of the Munising City Tourist Park in Paradise, for the price of 2 tickets to the Shipwreck Museum, he ferried my van to Munising. I took off through the National Park and headed toward Grand Marais along the Fire Roads navigating by compass, and miles to the turns. These roads definitely are NOT improved roads or very well marked. By the way, Bek, airing down to 80 psi with 32 mm road tires worked pretty well!I did have to walk the bike and trailer through some sections, but it was ridable with a road touring bike. I did carry an extra tire though.I made 33 miles on the first day, and met an interesting feller!

He went by "Red" and lived in his truck out in the National Forest, living on a military medical pension. His truck was an old 62 Willy's one ton Jeep flatbed truck with a cedar shack on the back and a bumpersticker reading "Guns, God, and Guts, 3 things that made America Great". He wouldn't let me grab a pic, but was a pretty decent guy, if a bit eccentric! He warned me that wolves aren't afraid of people and to watch my butt, as he put it. This brings me to the wolves.....

I set up camp out in the public lands, I was too beat to make it to a state campground (still about 20 miles away and I was about 30 miles from any help). I had set up the tent and finished caching my food bag in a tree about 100 yards from my tent, near dusk. Going back to my tent, I encountered a wolf between me and the tent, not an issue, but he was trying to hold my attention. There were 2 more, as it turned out, one coming up on me from behind and down wind and one more from the right.

Bear Spray is a very, very, very valuable tool for wolves, as it turns out. These wolves gave me a great perspective of wolf pack hunting techniques from the perspective of the prey.......in this case, ME! I sprayed the rear wolf at about 8 feet, and the wolf approaching from the right at about 10 feet, they were taking a run at me. The front wolf apparently decided he or she (didn't take the time to determine sex!) decided I was too difficult of a match to take. The bear spray stopped the charges dead! I do believe if I didn't have the spray, I'd have been the first wolf casualty of the 21st century! Needless to say, I didn't sleep real well that first night either and I made a real concerted effort to go to organized campgrounds after this incident!
EDIT: There was a Canadian Man killed by wolves in 2005.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, other than some bad winds and too heavy a gear load. I strained my right knee and had to abandon the tour in Marquette due to knee pain from dragging the heavy gear load. I did have the knee checked out and there is no injury, just inflamed tendons and ligaments....no tears or permanent damage, just a week or so off the bike to let the knee heal up.

Lessons learned:
  • It's possible with a trailer to overload yourself and not realize it until it's too late! Next time, I'm cutting the gear load a bit. I was kind of forced to carry extra clothes I normally wouldn't due to temp changes, Early June is still pretty cold at night up there yet. It got down into the 30's a couple of nights and the wind off of Superior was COLD and constant.
  • Crocs or their various clones are great lightweight camp shoes and feel fantastic after a day of pedaling!


Another rider I met, on the way to Marquette was a man named Pat who was riding from Vancouver to Ottawa. He was traveling light doing a "Credit Card" tour.

Now for a crass plug for a particular couple of campgrounds:

Munising City Tourist Park, Munising, Mi. These people treated me great! Then there was the Gitchie Gumie RV Park and Campground. This place is kind of a perpetual work in progress, but the tent sites are great! They are sheltered from the wind and have a chipped wood bed in the tent sites and this makes for good sleeping. It's quiet and only a mile from a nice casino as well in Marquette (Ojibwa Casino). I don't know if the Bacon Cheeseburger I got there was the best I've ever had or was just a great break from campsite cooking, either way, it was GREAT!

Out of this try at the UP, I got a lot, learned a lot and even though it was a rough trip with a really bad scare in it, I'd do it again and will finish on my next try! The other thing: How many people in Lafayette, Indiana are going to be able to top MY vacation stories after this ride?:p :D

Here's a slideshow from the trip, turn on your sound, it's got a great soundtrack with it (2 minutes, not too huge, even if you are on dialup and no wolf pics, I was a bit too busy to think about the camera at the moment!)


and my route:
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1029685

11 comments:

Fritz said...

Wow, Interesting story. I think you're supposed to report aggressive/habituated predators to the local wildlife authorities. Welcome back, too!

I've seen plenty of wolf/dog hybrids, but I've never seen an actual timber wolf. That would be something to see.

uncadan8 said...

Wow, an amazing experience! I had forgotten the stark beauty of that area. It has been a long time since I've been in the north country. Thanks for the reminder! Glad you are home safe and with all parts intact, too!

uncadan8 said...

Fritz - I had a friendly experience with a dog/timber wolf hybrid once in MN. It was absolutely huge! It reared up and put its paws on my shoulders. It was looking down at me and I am six feet tall.

Tom Stormcrowe said...

I did report the incident to Michigan DNR, and the spray also has a dye marker in it.

Christa said...

Oh my...that could've been your last bike ride AND camping trip, mister.
Good thing you had that spray.

Personally I've never been the pray of wolves, but I've seen them pretty close up, which was enough for me.

Fonk said...

Holy Crap! Yeah, I think I'd have a hard time sleeping, too, after that, if I'd be able to sleep at all. Good thing you had that bear spray along...

Tom Stormcrowe said...

You ain't just kidding, Fonk! It was........interesting, to say the least! How are things in the Springs?

Fonk said...

Things are going well. We've had a cooler, wetter Spring than usual over the past few years, but that's actually a good thing, as for once we don't have to worry (as much) about forest fire breaking out. Starting to heat up and dry out now though, so the season's still coming...

Tom Stormcrowe said...

Cool! Well, have a great season and tell Rob I said hey!

shawnkielty said...

I was thinking the bear spray might be handy everywhere.

Glad your ok!

Jill said...

Wow Tom ... I've never heard a wolf story like that, even in Alaska. Craziness. But it's great to hear you made it through unharmed and now have some great stories to tell about your trip. Nice job!

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