Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cabin Fever: A classic trip to Island Lake Rec Area

The White Pine cabin at Island Lake. 

It's been a trip I've been taking since I began doing more rustic camping: a weekend every January at Island Lake State Recreation Area near Brighton with the group from St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, the same group that I traveled with to the Sand Lakes area last May.

It's a trip I've taken almost every year since I was 9, and it's usually taken place at Island Lake, though one year we went to Bald Mountain up near Auburn Hills. We go out Friday night and return Sunday afternoon, doing all sorts of wintry activities that can be done with a group of 15+ males.

We almost didn't have the white powdery stuff, though. Early forecasts in the last week had no snow. Luckily, with some help (and a few prayers), we had about 4 inches to work with, perfect for sledding and cross-country skiing. The DNR even offered some help.

The lodging is done at the White Pine Cabin at Island Lake, one of two rustic cabins deep into the park. No electricity, no plumbing, just a gas stove for heat. A bunk room of about 20 beds and a main room with two large tables and a counter top for gear and storage.

We've always used gas lanterns for light, using about six throughout the cabin, and cook using stoves. We draw our water from a pump which draws from a well. It's quite the perfect set-up for a camping trip in the winter.

Sledding commences on a hill in the late-night hours Friday, a trip I didn't take after being completely exhausted that day. But if you've never sledded at night by lantern light, you're missing out.

We take a break on the trail, where we can see the shopping
center in Brighton, along with US-23.
Several hills dot the trails around the cabins, which makes for great cross-country skiing. It's the only weekend I do ski, and the combination hills and flat surfaces make for a good mix for beginning skiing. Even some of our younger campers were able to stay on their feet once they got used to the skis. Some spills happened (including a faceplant by this writer). And if you've never skied, it's a great workout; I'm still sore as I type this.

Since Kensington Metro Park's hills were closed to sledders, we improvised by sledding at the hills around Spring Mill Pond, a nice alternative. No crowds, fast hills and a great view of the snowy hills. Aside from some hunters, not a soul was seen.

Overall, a successful weekend was had for the first camping trip of 2012. Enough snow, no injuries, and a fun time. To explain it better, I'll allow the following quick video interview to tell about the weekend, along with some added statements and visual from some fellow campers of mine:

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