a stroll along the pigeon...

 

the pigeon

 

The encounter with the elk happened on the second day of a three-day solo-backpacking trip in the Pigeon River State Forest. The area is located in the northeastern portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

The trip had started in southeastern Michigan on a Friday afternoon. I left work at lunchtime after telling the boss I needed to take care of a personal problem This was no lie. Personally, I was sick of the city and needed some quality time along a trout stream. I was hiking along a trail through the woods northeast of Gaylord less than four hours later.

August isn't exactly known for its premium fly hatches, but as the old saying goes - "the best time to go fishing is when you can." This was when I found time to get away to the sanctuary of the north woods.

As far as the native and stocked brookies were concerned, it might as well have been June. They had destroyed several Royal Coachmen dry flies during the first evening's fishing. I was well pleased with the start of my three-day backpacking trip.

The Pigeon River is one of many fine trout streams in northern Michigan. It rises east of Gaylord and flows generally north until it enters Mullet Lake, which is just south of Cheboygan.

The river flows through a sparsely populated, and in some cases unpopulated, forest. Wading is easy throughout much of its length, thanks to the sandy bottom and, mostly, gentle current. The habitat is perfect for mayflies, and hence, for trout. The Pigeon River State Forest has several well-maintained hiking trails that follow the river in places, which makes it a great spot for backpacking.

I first fished the Pigeon as a youngster with my father and uncle. I took my son camping along the river when he was three years old. Through the years, I've visited the river many times, always bringing away a deeper appreciation of the beauty of the area. This trip was no exception.

The hike began near the Cornwall flooding and followed a main trail for about an hour until I took a side-trail that followed the course of the river more closely. When I thought I had hiked about three to four miles from the road (probably really only two miles) I looked for a place to set up camp for the night. The spot I found was near the bottom of a ridge and reached by way of a game trail. It offered a flat spot large enough for my tent and a small campfire. That's all I needed. It might be a poor choice if it rained, however the weather forecast was for no rain until the day after I left. More importantly, it didn't feel like rain any time soon. I decided to take the chance.

Part 3...

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