Sunday, September 18, 2016

Geocaching at the tip of Michigan's Thumb is a great way to spend a weekend

I'll never get sick of looking at the Lake Huron coastline, no matter where I am in Michigan.
So much is made in Michigan of what is "up north." Be it the argument that "up north" begins at the Zilwaukee Bridge, or at the Mackinac Bridge or what have you.

So much of the talk encompasses about the trek along I-75 or US-131. But so little is made of Michigan's Thumb region, which consists of several counties surrounding Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay. For those coming from the Metro Detroit region, making the drive 2.5 hours north on Van Dyke is well worth the outdoors trek.

My most recent weekend was spent at the tip of the Thumb near Port Austin in a cabin off of M-25. That stretch of the state was quiet with the waves crashing near the sandstone rock formations nearby. A sandy beach lined the stretch of water, an area barely touched by development.

Part of our day was spent at Port Crescent State Park geocaching, an activity that consists of searching for hidden items in containers hidden all over. We were on the hunt for six caches in the rain, and were able to find five of them (the sixth appeared to have been missing for some time).

Finding the first geocache near the state park sign.
It was my first geocache experience, and was something I'm planning on keeping on doing in the future. Hiking has always been a pastime, but adding the hunt for a geocache gave it a little more of an adventure. They were located all around the park, with many of them near the trail. Some were well off the trail, requiring some detailed looking for the container. They ranged from a 35mm film canister containing a log to an ammo box with a full notebook and trinkets left by those who had visited it. One was even placed in a small lock box magnetically attached to a metal bench. These geocaches were entitled "Margie's Delight," named for the placer's mother. They're well worth looking for during a day hike at the park. We didn't have any items to leave in the caches, as we forgot to back them, but we did make sure we entered our information in the logbooks as we found them.
Our entry to the log on the geocache
(Stands for "St. David's")

While geocaching, the park itself was a pleasure to walk through. The pathway was a smooth
walkway that eventually led to the Saginaw Bay, complete with boardwalks through the beaches and sand dunes. It's the first time I've been to the park in well over a decade, having gone there a few times and staying at the group site at the state park.

While at the beach, we found it to be quite the communicable experience with others staying along the coastline. Our cabin was near a sandstone formation that had been graffitied by many people over the years. The water remained fairly calm but fairly warm as some of our group decided to swim in the lake.

There are several places to camp in the tip of the Thumb, including Port Crescent and Sleeper State Park near Caseville. It was a great reminder to see what spending time in the Thumb was like again, a place that tends to get overlooked when looking for a Michigan outdoor adventure.

A boardwalk along a trail in Port Crescent State Park near the water. It was
a rainy morning, full of clouds before it broke later Saturday afternoon.

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