Adventures of 2018, Part V – Beaver Island, MI

This is part five and the final entry in a series of articles covering adventures of 2018. Part one can be found here. Part 1 Gaylord MI to Mackinaw City

Being back in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for work and having my one week stay turned into two, I decided that my ‘way home trip’ at the end of the week will be a stop in Charlevoix Michigan. There I will do the two-day ride that I promised myself the previous weekend.

In Charlevoix, I will catch a ride over to Beaver Island to do my overnight bikepacking trip there. Found that the ferry ride is a little over two hours long and the departure time to the island would put me on the island midday, I looked into taking an early flight over to the island to give me a full day of riding and exploring.

I looked up the air shuttle services for Beaver Island and called to inquire about rates and availability for the coming weekend. They had room on the 9:00 am flight and I considered the rate reasonable to get me to the island early. Then I had to ask the big question, “I need to bring a bike. Is that possible?” The response I got from the lady on the other end was: “Is is a big bike?” I was kinda thrown by the question. Thinking, what do you mean is it a big bike? Told her it is a mountain bike. She said she is not familiar with types of bikes. I said, well… If you saw me riding down the side of the road, you would consider it just a normal bike. Once that was all settled, I was told they could accommodate the bike. So, I made my reservation to make the 20-minute flight to Beaver Island on Saturday morning.

Before my two-week stay in Escanaba came to an end they begged a pleaded one more time to have my awesome services for just one more week, making it a total of three weeks. I agreed but wasn’t going to let this mess with my Beaver Island plans. Instead of heading home after the ride, I would just drive back to Escanaba for my third week.

Had a couple of options for my trip to Charlevoix. I could leave the night before and find a place to stay in Charlevoix or I could get up early Saturday morning and drive right to the airport. To save myself a hundred plus bucks on lodging, I opted for the early Saturday morning drive.

Friday night, everything was loaded in the car for my weekend adventure and calculations were made on how early I would need to leave to make my 9:00 am flight. Escanaba and Charlevoix are nearly directly across Lake Michigan from each other but it was going to take 3.5 hours to make the drive.

Next morning up before the birds and on my way to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. As I was driving it occurred to me that somehow I miscalculated my departure time. I didn’t give myself enough time.  The only thing to do was pick up the pace a bit.

After a phone call to the air service to notify them, I was indeed on my way but running late, I made it to the Charlevoix airport to be not quite the last person to check-in. When I got to the counter the lady I had spoken to about the bike told me to get it and bring it in. When I wheeled it around the corner she said, “That’s a big bike”.  What the heck? Did she think I was bringing a damn kids bike? Fortunately, the pilot was standing right there and said he could make it fit. Just had to take off the front tire.

Beaver Island from the air.

After a quick smooth ride to Beaver Island, I was all set to explore. Before departing the island airport I bought a map of the island. The first destination was the business district to buy some reading glasses because I forgot mine, therefore rendering the new map useless. The local hardware store had readers that sufficed quite well and while in town I made a stop at the visitor’s center to ask about camping on the island.

A typical road for the interior of the island.

A couple of nice gentlemen were more than eager to answer all my questions, load me up with brochures and circle ‘must-see’ points of interest on my map. One of the gentlemen was describing how to get to one of the campgrounds on the north side of the island. In his description, he said this is the only place in the world where you will find a paved bike path paralleling a dirt road.

The only bike path in the world paralleling a dirt road, as told by a resident of the island

I traveled across the island by using the map I bought earlier to find my way to the ‘must-see’ points of interest. The map is very detailed and somewhat deceiving.  What looked like viable roadways on the map were just dirt paths, that hadn’t seen a single motor vehicle in a long time as evidence of the many fallen trees and branches across the “road”. Pleasantly found them to be perfect bikepacking trails through the woods.

Big Birch a 250-year-old Birch tree.

One of the campgrounds listed on the map was on the east shore of the island so I stopped to check it out. Since it’s the weekend after Labor Day not much camping it going on. Spent a little time on the beach as the east wind brought in some fairly sizeable Lake Michigan waves.  Found a nice little camp spot just within the cover of the trees a few feet from the shore. Although before setting up camp I rode the five miles into town for a bite to eat.

Beach front on the East side of Beaver Island
Beachfront on the East side of Beaver Island
Camping on Beaver Island
Camping on Beaver Island

My idyllic camp spot provided me with one of the many pleasures I find camping and that’s watching the morning sun come up over the horizon. Made some breakfast and loaded up the bike for the trip back to town to catch the 11:00 am ferry back to Charlevoix.

Lake Michigan Morning sunrise
Lake Michigan morning sunrise.

The two-hour ferry ride was very relaxing and was thankful to have brought my iPad to do some reading from the selection of books I’ve downloaded. FYI, If you plan on making this ferry trip don’t expect to stay busy by being online. Not gonna happen for a large portion of the trip.

Beaver Island ferry and ferry dock at Beaver Island.
Beaver Island ferry. Ready to depart to Charlevoix

Once I was back on the mainland I needed to ride from the ferry dock downtown Charlevoix to the airport south of town where my car is parked. Once I was back at the car and all loaded up, was not planning on heading back to Escanaba, at least not yet.

My friend Chad (who I did the sailboat trip last summer) and his wife Michelle were in Frankfort, MI. It’s too long of a story to tell here what they were doing in Frankfort with their boat, but it is however covered elsewhere in this blog at this link: Where One Adventure Ends, Another Begins

At any rate, since it had been a while since I had seen them and they had their own epic journey to talk about, so I pointed my car south to make the two-hour drive to meet up with them for the afternoon.

Was good to catch up with Chad and Michelle and hear the many details about their year-long sailboating adventure, but I, unfortunately, had to make the long drive ahead of me to get back to Escanaba and be at work the next morning.

Meeting up with Chad and Michelle in Frankfort, MI
This is the final installment of my 2018 adventures

I certainly didn’t begin my summer with the intention of doing as much as I possibly could, it just happened. When reflecting back, realized everything I did was with very little or no preparation. Just made the decision to go and made it happen. Surprisingly everything worked and I got to meet some very nice people as well as experience many new things and see places I had never been to before.

If anything I can pass along is, next time you get an itch to do something… Just go! Trust me. Just have a plan of seeing and doing something new. If that is your only goal, you never fail to reach it.

Thank you for reading about my adventures. Hope you found this installment informative and entertaining.


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