#11: The Gathering, 2008, Part 2

The Gathering is held at the old Schoolhouse near White Cloud, Michigan. The Schoolhouse, run by the Western Michigan North Country Trail Chapter, has served us well over the years. Although we were expecting iffy weather we knew this would be another fine Gathering.

The Gathering draws people for a quick visit or the whole weekend. It also sometimes happens to fall on a couple group members birthdays though this year would not be one of those times. This year marks the tenth gathering and although only a handful of people have managed to attend all the of them, including myself, it is no less special. In fact it is a remarkable testament that the event has endured this long given the size and spread out nature of the group that spawned the event. For various reasons this Gathering would be a bit smaller than some in the past, but quantity alone does not make an event special. Quality is key and the quality of the people at this year's Gathering was high.

We spent Friday evening catching up with each other sometimes inside the Schoolhouse and sometimes outside around the fire John and Paul had built. The next several hours, before the weather really began to close in on us, were spent in enjoyable conversation. Saturday would bring a different world.

The long hike group which would include me did a hike of about 11 miles. We started at the NCT trail crossing of 11 Mile Road (Newago County) and hiked the trail to it's intersection with the Birch Grove Trail. From there we took the Birch Grove Trail to where it crossed 5 Mile Road. We then followed the road the remaining distance to the Schoolhouse.

After a potluck dinner of usual massive proportions featuring everything from homemade pickles to great locally made apple pies we settled down to conversations and play. Play this year included another Texas Hold 'Em tournament and this time a Haan family member did not win. Andy would take home the lion's share of the pot this year with Matt breaking even. The remaining 5, including me, lost our $5 buy in but we all had fun so that hardly mattered. People drifted in and out but eventually the long day would catch up to us all and those of us sleeping in shelters outside would slip on our wet shoes and slip out into the frigid, though warmer than it had been in some years, night air to find our tents and a good night's sleep.

We'd spend around three hours on the NCT and within the Coolbaugh Natural Area. This hike is a varied one featuring forest of oak and pine, prairie like areas, areas with ponds and even a couple creeks. When walking the trails in Coolbaugh we followed the red sole blazes that marked the trail. These are soles from countless shoes.

Sites Of Interest

Additional Photos and Hiking Map
North Country Trail Assoication
Great Lakes Hikes Group
The Schoolhouse
Coolbaugh Natural Area

Direct download: 10th_glh_gathering_part_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:42am EST



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