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Outdoor Family Life Monthly Report – August 2015

Welcome to my August 2015 Outdoor Family Life Monthly Report!

We had one heck of an action packed month that started while we were in North Dakota and ended with a full circle tour around Lake Superior that included camping in 5 new campgrounds and plenty of time on the trails.  The Lake Superior Circle Tour was our first time camping in Canada as a family.  I had camped in Canada 20 years ago in my teens on the way to Alaska with my parents and my kids were excited about their first camping trip outside of the US..

Camping

We headed out on 2 camping trips this month.  We had an additional trip to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, but we stayed with relatives on that trip.

Nights Spent in the Camper:  18

Campgrounds Visited:  6

States / Provinces Camped In:  3

CCC Campground – Grassy Butte, North Dakota

Nights:  1 in August – 5 in Total

We camped here for 5 nights while visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park and preparing for the Maah Daah Hey 100 Mountain Bike Race that started from this campground.  I mentioned it in my last month’s report, but we were still here for the night of August 1st.

Link to my full CCC Campground Review

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park – Mandan, North Dakota

Nights:  2

On our way home from the North Dakota Badlands area.  Nice park located on the site of the Mandan people and Colonel Custer’s home prior to his last battle.

Link to my full Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Campground Review

Sleeping Giants Provincial Park – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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Nights:  2

Our first stop on our Lake Superior Circle Tour Trip.  I would stop here again as there were some other hikes yet to do.  It was a nice park and the kids enjoyed it.  We had deer walking right through our campsite.

Link to my full Sleeping Giants Provincial Park Review

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Rabbit Blanket Campground – Wawa, Ontario, Canada

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Nights:  2

Our last Canadian stop along our Lake Superior Circle Tour.  Nice and well kept little campground.  It rained most of the day that we were here, but we still had a good time and was able to squeeze in a short hike between rain storms.

Link to my full Lake Superior Provincial Park – Rabbit Blanket Campground Review

Wilderness State Park – Carp Lake, Michigan

Nights:  3

I always wanted to stop and check out this park and am glad we finally were able to stay here.  It was not very busy during the week and the kids had a great time with the park activities.  Each day there were activities for the kids to learn about insects and fury creatures.  Kudos to the park staff for putting on such nice activities for the kids.

Link to my full Wilderness State Park Campground Review

McLain State Park – Hancock, Michigan

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Nights:  3

We have been going to the Keweenaw Peninsula for years, but usually stay with family.  We finally got to camp here and really enjoyed it.  There are a couple of short trails from the park that were perfect length for the kids to hike.  The park also sits right on Lake Superior which is just peaceful as can be.  I should also mention that Lake Superior has eroded quite a bit of the shoreline away and some of the original campground sites and road along the lake have actually been washed away into Lake Superior.

Link to my full McLain State Park Campground Review

Biking

Biking goes with all of our travel since I like to race and check out new trail systems.  The boys also got to get a little bit of trail riding in this month as well.

Trail Systems Ridden:  7

States / Provinces Ridden In:  3

Maah Daah Hey Trail – Medora, North Dakota

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I raced the Maah Daah Hey 100 on August 1st that traversed the Maah Daah Hey Trail from the CCC Campground near Grassy Butte to Medora, North Dakota.  It is a very rugged trail with many elevation changes.  I ended up 10th place overall in the 106 mile mountain bike race.

Here is my race report on my other site if you are interested:  2015 Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Report

Mandan Fort Lincoln Bike Trail – Mandan, North Dakota

This was a short ride down the bike path while camping at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  The boys loved it, mostly because they saw a lot of deer and rabbits while riding.  It is a nice trail for recreational riding.  It was getting late, otherwise we would have ridden it all the way to town.

Sleeping Giants Provincial Park – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Some of the trails here are bike friendly.  The boys didn’t ride with me as they enjoyed just riding around camp and my rides might have been a little far for them.  I rode the gravel road around Louise Marie Lake in the evening that we arrived and then rode out to the Top of the Giants Trailhead on the second day, where I left my bike while hiking to the top.

Southern Links Trailway – Millington, Michigan

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This was an old railroad bed when I was growing up and has since been turned into a really nice bike path.  I got out on it one afternoon for a ride with my Dad and then the next morning for a ride on my own.  It was nice to see quite a few people out on the trail.

Wilderness State Park – Carp Lake, Michigan

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The boys, my Dad and I all did a nice 7.5 mile loop on some of the trails around the park.  It was mostly 2 track or wide path trails that we rode, but it was a nice loop for the kids.  Another one of the days, my Dad and I did some exploring and found ourselves down some of the North Country Trail along with dumping out on a few country roads.  There is a fair bit of exploring that can be done here.

Noquemanon South Trails – Marquette, Michigan

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We were just passing through Marquette, but I had to stop for a ride.  I hit the single track while my kids went on a bike path ride with my brother in-law.  If you haven’t been to the Marquette Trails for some mountain bike riding; you are missing out for sure.  This trail system definitely ranks as some of the best I have ridden.  There are miles of trails that can be ridden all from the same trailhead.

Swedetown Trails – Calumet, Michigan

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This was my second time riding here and as I said after my first time out there…  I had been missing out.  This is a hidden gem of XC singletrack trail.  The single track trails are set up around the ski trails, so there are plenty of loops that can be ridden and you are never far from dumping out on the ski trail.  You can connect all the single track together for a really nice and long XC ride.  I was on the single track for around 17 miles before running out of time and had to dump out on the ski trail and head back to camp.  There are 2 trail heads.  The main trailhead is up in Calumet, but there is another one that is off of M-203 and only about 4 miles from McLain State Park.

Hiking

Trail Systems Hiked:  5

States / Provinces Hiked In:  2

Sleeping Giants Provincial Park – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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There is quite a bit of hiking to be done here.  I hiked the Top of the Giants Trail by myself, which is a must do hike for the overlooks and scenery at the top.  I would recommend biking out to the trailhead as I did, to save yourself some time.  There is a bike rack at the start of the trailhead.  The hike out there is about 4 miles just to get to the trail head itself.  We also did a couple short hikes with the kids, but were far from covering everything.  I would like to go back and cover a few more of the hikes.

Aguasabon Falls – Terrace Bay, Ontario, Canada

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We stopped off here to do a couple of short hikes to break up the day of driving and check out the scenery.  We hiked to a little overlook to see the falls and then went on a short hike from the beach up to a bridge over the river.  Great scenery and nice short walks to stretch the legs during our drive day.

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

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The rain stopped for a while and gave us some time to go for a short hike.  Everything was pretty wet, but we headed out on the South Old Women Trail, but shortly into the trail came to a creek crossing that required jumping from boulder to boulder and was very wet and slippery.  I thought it was a little much for the kids and almost slipped myself, so we turned around and hiked a short portion of the Peat Mountain Trail that wrapped around the backside of the campground.

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On our way out of town the next day we stopped off and hiked the Agawa Rock Pictograph Trail to see the Pictographs.  This was a nice little hike for the kids through some very cool terrain.  I did not let the kids down on the rocks to see the pictographs as they are on the rock walls that drop right into Lake Superior and there is only a couple feet wide slanted rock edge to scale out on at the edge of the water.  I went out myself and got a picture and video of the pictographs.

Wilderness State Park – Carp Lake, Michigan

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There are a few little hiking trails for the kids to hike.  They are not quite connected well to make short little loops, but we managed to piece together a 4 mile loop that took us along the road to get back.  One of the trails was under water.  I believe they were having a bit of an issue with a Beaver damning up one of the creeks and was causing some flooding problems.

McLain State Park – Hancock, Michigan

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There are 2 short hiking loops that you can take from the campground.  We took the Bear Lake Trail Loop that goes across the road and then looped back to our campsite through the park.  It was a little over 2 miles in a full loop and the kids really enjoyed it.  My oldest son Kyle, enjoyed reading the signs that detailed the types of trees.  There is a dock that is labeled fishing pier on the map, but there is no way you are going to do any fishing from it.  It does look out to the small lake, but there is barely any water at the wooden dock and it is surrounded by lily pads.

Cooking

We did break out the pie irons again for some pie iron muffins.  It’s pretty simple to do.  We just take our favorite muffin mix and pour some in an oiled pie iron.  Here are a couple pictures…

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Photography

I am amazed at some of the cool photos you can take with just an iPhone.  I like to take photos when I am mountain biking to document my rides.  Here are a few photos that I took that I think turned out well.  I believe the flower is from my 9 year old DSLR.

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I post some on My Instagram Account if you are interested in following.

Summary

August was a full month with a lot of ground covered.  Summer is wrapped up and the kids are headed back to school now.  Our adventures are far from over for the year…  Look out for my full report on our Lake Superior circle tour in the next week.

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