We’re excited to announce that Jim DuFresne’s newest guidebook, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: A Backcountry Guide for Hikers, Backpackers, Campers and Winter Visitors, is out for anybody headed to our beloved Porkies for a little wilderness adventure this summer.
The fourth edition of this classic is a 176 pages and full color, featuring great photography by Bryan Byrnes, a noted outdoor photography who practically lives on the edge of the 60,000-acre state park. More than 25 detailed maps to every trail in the park are also included along with special chapters on renting a walk-in cabin or yurt, wilderness fishing and the many waterfalls in this amazing corner of Michigan.
Along with the guidebook, we’ve also produced a companion map, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Trail Map. Combining USGS elevation data with satellite imagery and good old fashion field research, the 24-inch by 18-inch, two-sided map is full color and includes all trails, cabin, yurts and backcountry campsite locations along with interesting features such as waterfalls and historic mines.
The map also features exact mileage for all the trails within the park and mileage flags for segments of the longest ones; Lake Superior Trail, Big Carp River Trail, Little Carp River Trail and Government Peak Trail. Data for contour lines is provided in both meters and feet and short descriptions are provided for each path. Best of all it’s printed on waterproof and tear-resistant paper just in case you drop it while fording the Big Carp River.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park: A Backcountry Guide for Hikers, Backpackers, Campers and Winter Visitors is only $15.95, the companion map $8.95. Both are available in the MichiganTrailMaps.com eshop for quick delivery.
In honor of the release, we decided to reprint Jim’s introduction to the Porcupine Mountains in this Trail Talk blog.
By Jim DuFresne
Something moved. In the shadowy light of a full moon, my task of filling the water bottles was interrupted when in the corner of my eye I saw movement on the other side of Little Carp River.
Or I thought I did.
I studied the black trunks of the hardwoods and pines, the silhouettes of bushes and stumps, but on this October evening all was quiet and still in the heart of the Porcupine Mountains. I was on the verge of returning to my chore when a shadow moved again; three steps this way, one step that way. It stopped; I stood up. It turned towards me; I peered into the darkness at it. And suddenly we were both conscious of each other.
Man meets bear in a place called the Porkies.
We both might have bolted into the woods, but 20 yards of rushing water gave us a sense of security so we took the opportunity to study each other a little bit longer. The few black bears I had encountered in Michigan looked little more than a large dog. This one had some bulk to it…a 250-pound bear? Maybe a 300-pounder? And when it turned sideways the shadow the moonlight cast of my backwoods companion was even more impressive.
“Whoa!” I said softly under my breath.
It inched closer to the riverbank, nuzzled this with its nose, pawed that with its claws, and then stopped again to look at me. Only 30 yards separated us and now the bear appeared to be squinting at me.
“Gotta go,” I said in a booming voice so there was no question in its mind as to what I was. I retreated up the bank in three steps or less, and after reaching the top I turned to the river again.
The bear was gone. It vanished into the shadows from which it emerged without leaving a trace of its movement.
I sat down on a stump and wondered what else was out there when the spirit of this wilderness descended upon me, like it always does at such moments. It’s not picturesque Lake of the Clouds or the views from Summit Peak, as dramatic as they are, that make some of us return year after year to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It’s the feeling of being out there in a land where man is at best a visitor passing through. It’s the idea that this rugged corner of the Upper Peninsula has been explored and mapped and even laced with foot trails and backcountry cabins, but never tamed.
Like a fortress against development and that oxymoron we call “progress,” the Porkies have always been this place where you retreated to rediscover yourself and the natural world around you.
It’s a timeless quality first experienced by the Indians and then acknowledged by those early miners. Today it’s a priceless quality that attracts thousands of visitors who merely want to wander down a path or pause in wonder along the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. The billboards, the golden arches, the motorized pace of our society is somewhere else.
Out here it’s towering pines 300 years old and spectacular waterfalls. It’s sweeping views from rocky knobs reached by the slow and thoughtful pace of foot travel that keeps everything in proper perspective.
If only for a few days, leave your vehicle, slow down and look around. There’s a bear on the other side of the river.