Where has my summer gone? I can’t believe it’s August. I’ve barely even shared with you this summer. Recipes or stories about how I am an outdoors woman now!It’s true. I’ve lived in the woods and survived without running/potable water, refrigeration, toilets, etc. Just us, some dehydrated food, a water filter and a shovel. Ok, and a few comforts such as a tent, hammock, comfy little chairs and some wine. Of course, I didn’t have popsicles but I survived with out homemade treats for 4 whole days.
I tell you this like you should be shocked. Like I am normally a prissy, girly, girl but I’m really not. Don’t get me wrong. . . my nails are normally done, I like electricity as much as the next guy and I am newly aware of how fond I am of having a toilet in my house but I am not scared to get my hands dirty (even break a nail) and explore the wild. I usually just do it a day at a time, not four days at once.
Because these popsicles are so easy, there isn’t much I need to explain about them. They are pretty much fool proof and a creamy, cool summer treat. This frees me up to tell you a little about our recent trip. A couple of weeks ago Tim & I headed out to explore North Manitou Island for 3 nights. We packed up our backpacks with everything we might need (and more – live and learn) & took the ferry to the island. This officially committed us to being left to our own devices. I carried about 45lbs and Tim about 55lbs.Day 1 we headed down to the southern end of the island and tried to make our way to the first spot we wanted to make camp. We had read about Mt Baldy and what a pretty dune it was with 180 degree views of Lake Michigan.
I say “tried to make our way” because a wrong turn was taken somewhere along the way. The island really only has one marked trail and everything else you do sort of has to be bushwacked and navigated via compass or GPS. Eventually we ended up deciding the only thing to do to actually get back to where we needed to be was to climb a very steep tree/brush covered MOUNTAIN. Yes-MOUNTAIN.
Allow me to be a little dramatic when I tell you it almost killed me. And in turn I almost killed my darling Tim. I may have been mumbling cuss words like a sailor under my breath. I may have decided right then and there I was NEVER backpacking again. I may have seen red for a little while. Fortunately, the climb rewarded us with a spectacular view, soft sand for my sore feet, a perfect spot to make camp and a husband who loves me enough to anticipate that I might need wine.At the top Tim pulled a surprise can-o-wine from his pack and all was forgiven.
That night we watched the sky turn into a beautiful watercolor as we ate bowls of noodles and curled up to sleep on top of the first dune I have ever camped on. The grasses around us tickled the sides of the tent and the sky never truly seemed to be dark. In the morning we watched the sun come up and then packed up to head down the dunes to the lake.The hike down to the lake looked easy from a distance. In reality it was almost a mile and it was up and down sand dune climbing the whole way. Lake side we stripped off our shoes and I waded in to the freezing lake to filter fresh water in to our packs and water bottles. Tim made us some coffee and we enjoyed the completely solitary beach as we had breakfast. Very peaceful.
After breakfast we headed out. Our goal was to get a good 8-10 miles of hiking in before making camp at the north end of the island. We barely saw a sole all day. Mostly we saw chipmunks which can be a major nuisance as there are a zillion of them and they aren’t scared to walk right up and practically steal snacks from your mouth.
The trail we walked was beautiful and in some areas it comes very close to the edge of the lake. Too bad for me my old hiking boots decided to hate my feet and after a few miles I was feeling parts of my feet/toes that I don’t usually notice. We chose to stop for lunch near the old dock on the west side of the Island. This allowed me to give my feet a break from shoes and dip my feet in some cold lake water.Our goal to make camp on the lake toward the north end of the island wasn’t panning out. One reason was my quickly fading feet. The other reason was we did not anticipate that the further north we went the further away the trail veered from the edge of the water. The trail seemed to cut in behind a cliff ridge and in order to get back to the water we would have had another big climb and some more bushwacking.
We decided it wasn’t worth it and backtracked a mile to some beach we liked. I found a great spot to make camp and ripped off those hiking boots as fast as I could. Turns out my feet were covered in several large blisters. Not ideal.The best thing ever after a long day hiking is a hammock. Awesome. I am addicted to being in a hammock now. We have even created a perfect spot in our yard for the hammock since our trip. I would hang out in it all day if I could.
Night two camp was overlooking the water but you have to be at least 300 feet away from the water when you make camp on the island so we were up in the trees a little bit. This meant a lot of chipmunks so we had to hang our food from a tree and couldn’t leave anything edible unattended for a second. The rangers refer to the chipmunks as micro-tigers.
We also had a deer wander through and visit us as she grazed. She wasn’t very bothered by our presence. The real selling point of the island for me? No bears!This is our view of the sunset from camp on night two. So gorgeous!
We were so tired we barely made it to sunset before nodding off.
Morning three we packed up and cushioned my blistered feet with some mole skin that Tim had thought to bring. Our goals was to head north east to the inland Lake Manitou & make camp. Along the way we stopped to explore an old logging camp that has some very old ‘cars’ being reclaimed by the forest. At one time there was a small farming and logging community on the island. There are still a few old buildings falling down that you stumble upon from time to time, an old barn, an old dock, an old orchard that still produces apples, and the occasional rusted tool in the woods like the old shovel we came across.
I wasn’t sure I would make it because of the blisters but I pushed through and that afternoon we made it to a lovely spot near Lake Manitou. Surprisingly, it is a pretty big lake and the water was nice and clear and not as cold as Lake Michigan. We set up our camp and then took our tiny camp chairs down to the water for a bit.We made camp a lot earlier on day three so we ate a late lunch/early dinner and enjoyed a little lake time. After relaxing by the lake and filtering some fresh water we retired to the hammock and hung out until bedtime.
Our last night on the island was the darkest. We were inland from Lake Michigan and deeper in the woods. I woke up in the middle of the night and could not see my hand in front of my face! A little later in the night, still pitch back, I woke to hear what must have been a herd of deer grazing around us. Mildly freaked out by the noises surrounding us I reached out for the comfort of Tim. He assured me it was just deer, no worries. Could have been a family of bigfoot though. I mean. . . you never know!Morning four we only had to make it 2.5 miles back to the ferry dock. A good thing because my feet were done. By the time we made it to the dock and I stripped off the boots, my right foot was bloody. Not great but I had a pair of flip flops with me and the boots ended up in the trash. They didn’t even come home from the island with us. I have new boots for our next trip.
Yes-next trip. The island was so amazing we may have ruined ourselves for anywhere else but next weekend we are venturing out for 4 more days in the wild.
It was such a great adventure with my best friend. Just us for 4 days. Unplugged from the world. I can’t wait to go again!
Banana Peanut Butter Popsicles
1/2 cup milk (I used unflavored almond milk)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 over ripe bananas (2 large or 3 small)
3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed and pour-able. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight. Makes about 6 popsicles.