Dam-to-Dam (North Country Trail, MI) Trip Report Mark Tangen August 20-23, 2020, Unsupported
“ ’Dam to Dam’ refers to the section of the North Country Trail from Croton Dam near Newaygo, MI to Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick, MI. It runs from South to North through the Manistee National Forest. At the North end one has the option of staying on the North Country Trail on the West side of the Manistee River or crossing over to the Manistee River Trail on the East side of the river. The Manistee River Trail adds a little distance and has more impressive views of the river. Depending on which side of the river one takes and the exact finish point at the North end the route is roughly 130 miles.” – from fastestknowtime.com
I hiked the Dam-to-Dam in 90 hours, 53 minutes and 34 seconds, from August 20-23, 2020. I used a Garmin InReach Mini to track and took pictures with my phone along the trail. I started at a recreational parking lot and boat launch at Croton Dam frequented by people who fish. I stayed on the NCT side of the Manistee River and finished at the parking lot at Hodenpyl Dam. I carried all my own equipment, food, fuel and filtered all my water from creeks/rivers and ponds/lakes. I received no assistance of any kind. I carried a camping hammock with quilts and a tarp to sleep in.
Day 1 Thursday August 20
- Started Aug 20, 2020 7:03:15 AM at 43.434610, -85.666751 at NCT Trailhead at recreational parking lot at Croton Dam M912 (The Mxxx refers to mile marker on the North Country Trail Maps and are approximate, usually stated to the nearest ½ mile)
- Day 1 Trip Time 14:28:15
- GPS Dist. Traveled 25.77 mi *, Average Speed 1.78 mph, Max. Speed 4.50 mph, Max. Elevation 1345 ft
- 1 hour lunch at bridge over White River M893.5 (great talk with the trial adopter for that section (Papa Mark)
- 40 minute dinner at Mena Creek M882.5.
- Found two trees for the hammock to sleep for the night at M879.5 (43.658176, -85.831546) at 9:10 pm. 32.5 miles.
Day 2 Friday August 21
- Started Aug 21, 2020 6:12 AM M879.5 (43.658176, -85.831546)
- Trip Time 16:49:23
- GPS Dist. Traveled 26.77 mi *, Average Speed 1.59 mph, Max. Speed 4.50 mph, Max. Elevation 1063 ft
- Lunch at Highbank lake M865.5
- Dinner at 76th St Trailhead M856.
- Hung the hammock to sleep at 11:00 pm at M845.5 (43.928961, -86.018315), overlooking the Pere Marquette River. Long day as I managed to do 34 miles in 17 hours. The mileage goal for tomorrow will be about the same as today, trying to finish in under 96 hours (4 days). The last day is the most challenging with lots of elevation. change, so trying to shorten that day's length.
Day 3 Saturday August 22
- Started Aug 22, 2020 6:06 AM M845.5 (43.928961, -86.018315)
- Trip Time 17:09:23
- GPS Dist. Traveled 26.66 mi *, Average Speed 1.55 mph, Max. Speed 3.42 mph, Max. Elevation 1141 ft
- Got sluggish in late morning and remembered my wife's advice to review each separate part of your body and what needs to be done to fix it and my coach/trainer Rowan's wise words about the benefits of using caffeine on the trail to enhance performance.
- I do not drink much coffee but made a double instant coffee in a water bottle and that fixed it!
- Meal, water, and foot soak at Vince Smith Bridge at M830 at 3:30 pm
- Unfortunately, the damage on mileage was done and when I quit at 11:30 pm at M814 (44.183621, -86.104403) the 31.5 miles was short of my goal of 34. Now I have 33 miles of the hardest section of the trail for the fourth day left to do.
Sunday August 23
- Started Day 4 on Aug 23, 2020 5:49 AM M814 (44.183621, -86.104403)
- Ended Aug 23, 2020 1:56:49 AM
- Day Trip Time 20:07:49
- Total Trip Time 90 hours 53 minutes and 34 seconds
- GPS Dist. Traveled 27.45 mi *, Average Speed 1.36 mph, Max. Speed 3.74 mph, Max. Elevation 1272 ft
- Torrential thunderstorm at Pine Creek, M807. At NCT Hiker Campsite at M806, spent one hour on cooking food, changing socks, foot maintenance etc.. Spoke to owner of property (Curt) who maintains the hiker campsite on his property exclusively for the use of NCT hikers. While I utilized the picnic table, I did not use the water cache or outhouse/privy
- I finished the Dam to Dam hike at 1:56:49 AM at the Hodenpyl Dam, near M781.
- Rested for an hour and walked 2 miles to the Seaton Creek Campground where I stayed the night before my ride picked me up
- I finished in 90 hours 53 minutes and 34 seconds (or 3 days 18 hours 53 minutes and 34 seconds)
* NOTE: GPS Distance Traveled is less than actual trail miles covered due to 10 minute sampling intervals and rounding
Hey Mark! I'm thinking about doing this trek next fall or the spring after, especially since there are no female FKT holders on it. Were there any resources you found particularly helpful? Thanks a bunch!