Hello everyone!  I’m running behind a bit, so please bear with me as I catch up.  This post is going to be a quick run-down of my January hikes. Remember my gear update at in mid-January, where I told you all about my new snowshoes?  Well, I put them to work a couple times this month.  I did three hikes total, two on snowshoes and one with ice spikes.  Eek, I can’t wait to tell you about that one!  But I’m gonna start at the beginning.

IMG_20200120_143700_MPHike 1 of 2020 – So I am starting over again with the 52 Hike Challenge and the North Country Trail’s Hike 100 Challenge.  This hike covered 2.5 miles along the NCT, from Round Lake, to Spring Lake and back, in Petoskey. In the summer, this section of trail is a paved path for walking, running, and biking.  In the winter, it’s used for snowshoeing and snowmobiles.  Have no fear though, it’s mostly a long straight stretch, so you’d see a snowmobile coming long before it reached you……if you didn’t hear it first. It was a chilly, partly cloudy day but I worked up a sweat, and had to remove a layer or two along the way.  The sun did peek out for a moment around my halfwayIMG_20200120_143715 point.  This was the first time on the new snowshoes.  Everything was great for the first mile and half.  But my baby toes started complaining about being rubbed on by the binding.  I decided I probably had my feet too far back in the binding, causing the rub. I adjusted on the next hike.

IMG_20200120_144319Hike 2 of 2020 – I continued along the same trail as hike 1.  This was a little bit shorter, going from Round Lake to West Conway Road.  I stopped there, thinking the trail went up West Conway Road, and I didn’t feel like doing any road walking.  Turns out I was mistaken.  The trail goes up North Conway Road. So there’s .2 of a mile that I missed before the trail starts following the road.  I’m going to leave the road section of the trail for the summer.  In the winter, the snowbanks don’t leave much room for walking along the road, and the snowbanks IMG_20200120_144808_MPthemselves don’t make for great walking surfaces.  My snowshoes didn’t rub on my toes so much this time, as I positioned my feet farther forward in the bindings.

Hike 3 of 2020 – This was my favorite hike of January.  Also, the most strenuous, but totally worth the effort.  We met up with friends from our hometown, and hiked in to the Rock River Canyon Ice Caves, near Eben, MI.  Better known as the Eben Ice Caves. Thanks to some other bloggers, we had an easy time finding the trail head.  “Just set your GPS for Eben Junction, and then follow the IMG_20200126_133417signs.”  It really was that easy!  We got lucky in that there weren’t a whole lot of people there that day.  We were able to park fairly close.  I’ve seen some more recent photos where people had to park a mile or so away. Three miles round trip, this walk is hilly and icy.  I highly advise against doing it if you don’t have some kind of traction device on your feet like ice spikes, yak traks, or ice cleats.  I also brought my hiking poles and found IMG_20200126_134659them to be super handy in several places.  Be prepared for a short, but steep climb once you’re there.  It’s steep enough that, on our way back out, I decided it would be easier to just slide down.  The ice caves are formed by giant icicles, which are created by the trickling water of a small river.   You can walk inside the caves, but be careful doing so.  Even with my ice cleats on, I was sliding a bit and ended up on my rear end IMG_20200126_135845once.  Oh!  We also took advice from a sign at the parking lot and had lunch at the Village Pub.  The food was pretty darn good!

In summary, I completed 3 of my 50 hikes for the year.  My mileage for the month was 7.75 miles, 4.75 of which was on the North Country Trail.  Tell me, in the comments, if you’ve been to the Eben Ice Caves, or any other ice caves!  See you next week!