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Jude's avatar

For my birthday in May, my girlfriend and I will be camping in the Upper Peninsula (Michigan). This is non-campground camping. What do we need?

Asked by Jude (31980 points ) February 28th, 2012

One week, no electricity, and no running water. We will be near the lake, so we can wash our hair and our bits there. During the day, light jackets will suffice as far as warm gear goes. At night, the temperatures drop.

All that I know, is that I’m prepared to dance ‘round the fire in my bathing suit and possibility howl at the moon! <arrrrooooooooooooooo>

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61 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

I wish this was in social.

Jude's avatar

I’ll flag it..

deni's avatar

Will you be staying in tents or like a primitive cabin type thing?

Jude's avatar

A tent (probably by a creek or in the middle of the woods. Possibly near a cliff).

dappled_leaves's avatar

Will you have a clean water source? If not, bring something to treat water with, and a big water container – you can get plastic ones that fold or roll up, so they won’t take up space in your car.

Are you driving to the campsite, or will you be hiking in? Have you camped before? I’m not sure what level of advice you’re looking for. :)

This sounds like an awesome trip – you are going to love it.

gailcalled's avatar

Check the black fly issues in May.

Jude's avatar

We’ll be driving and will be traveling around to various spots.

I camped at a lesbian campground 20 years ago, haha. It wasn’t quite like this. I remember sleeping on an air mattress and waking up through the night with my back frozen. For this trip, we’re opting for some cushiony foam.

We have a tent, a coleman stove, warm sleeping bags, and we’ll get the clean water situation figured out.

Jude's avatar

Will do, Gail.

I am a little concerned about wildlife. Namely, bears. What should we do with our food?

gailcalled's avatar

Oh, dear. source

“Black fly season occurs from mid-March to mid-July in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, north through New York and New England, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into Southern Canada. Some backpackers, campers and fishermen avoid outdoor activities during black fly season, but the rest of us soldier on despite the bugs, glad to escape the confines of snow-bound home life.”

Jude's avatar

On average, the weather temp for May is the high 50’s (during the day). Nighttime, it’ll drop quite a bit.

syz's avatar

Tent, drop cloth, sleeping bag, inflatable camp pad, water filtration kit, water containers, camp stove, fuel, camp pots, eating utensils. waterproof matches, camp chair, lantern, head lamp (for midnight pee trips), stuff sacks and rope for hanging your food and anything else scented (bears), hand shovel (for burying your poop and toilet paper), soap, camp towel, deet, rain gear, first aid kit.

Anything with a scent (toothpaste, deodorant, food, trash, sanitary items, etc) should be lofted well out of reach. Wrap your lightweight rope around a rock a few times, toss it over a branch, pull it down and tie your bag to it, then pull it way overhead and tie off the other end around the trunk of the tree. Illustration

Jude's avatar

@gailcalled Ahahaha!! I’ll be soldiering on, I guess. :)

Jude's avatar

@syz Perfect!! Thank-you!

gailcalled's avatar

@JudeCaveat camper.

Jude's avatar

My girlfriend is a geologist, we have our headlamps.

Jude's avatar

I wish that we could move this over to social.

I asked @tinyfaery and her wife if they wanted to come, but, they couldn’t because of work. Now, thinking about, I’m not sure that @tinyfaery would have enjoyed herself. ;-)

syz's avatar

Oh, and a backpack to put all of that in! (I really like the Osprey.)

deni's avatar

Water filter and stove are the two essentials that first come to mind.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The lake water will probably still be COLD, especially if it is Superior. The ice doesn’t completely melt off until the middle of April.

You will want some salt. The smaller lakes that warm up faster usually have leeches and salt is the best way I have found to get them to release.

Jude's avatar

I guess that we’ll have to go with those solar shower bags.

dappled_leaves's avatar

If you haven’t camped in a good long while, bring extra blankets, and I would recommend sleeping a night in your tent before the trip, to see if your mattresses are up to your standards. Believe me, what I could sleep on/in 20 years ago ain’t cutting it now. And definitely try out your stove before you go.

Some good suggestions above, and a roll of duct tape is always a good thing to have, just in case. If you’re planning any day hikes, a small pack is nice to have, and a water bottle to carry with you.

If your car is nearby, you shouldn’t have to worry about bears. Just keep your campsite clean, and remember to store all food (and toothpaste and toiletries) in the car.

deni's avatar

Pans, a sponge, bags to put trash and other icky things in. Dry fruit, granola, beans, tortillas, blarblar.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Cold water isn’t that bad, as long as you are prepared for it. When we lived up in northern Wisconsin we went smelting every spring and the water was between 34–36F. That was usually the last week in April.

Rarebear's avatar

Where in the UP? My family is from there. I love it there. But it sure can be buggy.

Jude's avatar

@Rarebear I’ll post some of the places. I’ve never been to the UP, by the way.

Pictured Rocks

Sugarloaf Mountain

Near Brockway Mountain

Jude's avatar

I am not biking this. We thought about it, though.

YoBob's avatar

Firstly, are you able to drive up to the point where you will be camping, or will you have to lug your essentials from where you park to where you are camping, and if so, how far?

The answer to this makes a very big difference in how you equip yourself. If you can drive all the way up to where you are camping, then you don’t really have to worry much about weight and volume, so err on the side of caution and throw in the kitchen sink.

OTOH, if you have to lug your stuff, then you have to concern yourself with every ounce you pack. You should really do a couple of easy overnight backpack trips to get a feel for what you really need and what is extraneous.

Here are the basics regardless of camping mode:

Warm clothing, preferable in layers that can be put on and taken off as the conditions change.

Rain poncho

Tent and ground cloth (of course)

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad (I prefer air mattresses myself, but if you are backpacking the roll up pads are bulkier, but much lighter weight and they strap easily to the pack.

A couple of good water jugs and a good water filter. Or, if you are doing the car thing, a couple of big jugs of city water that you don’t have to sterilize.

First aid kit

A good hank of strong but thin and lightweight rope

A good map of the area where you will be.

Include a signal mirror, whistle, pencil, and paper, and compass in your emergency kit (yes, even you might get lost and need to call attention to yourself)

non-parshable food items like trail mix, jerkey, etc… plus whatever you are planning for regular meals.

Stove (with fuel) and cook ware.

A change of socks (nothing worse than wet socks on the trail…)

Insect replant (depending on the time of year)

Flashlight and extra batteries

————————————————-

Things to leave behind:

Work

Electronic entertainment devices

Traffic

General stress

You get the idea…

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jude Hey, that hut doesn’t belong with the lake pictures! :)
That is one of my favourite places in the world.

Jude's avatar

me: we should some bring babywipes. We’ll up using around 50 each.
g/f: we’ll be washing each others bodies. We’ll end up like smelling like a nursing home.

wilma's avatar

@Jude I have been to some of those places, you will love it!
Bears could be a problem as well as wolves and moose. They are more of a problem on Isle Royal, but they are also in the UP and becoming more prevalent. I have been chased by a moose, it isn’t fun, so please be aware.
Black flies could be a real issue, you may want to look into getting some of those mesh protective clothes. Don’t forget the deep woods deet, and GPS so you don’t get lost.

jazmina88's avatar

hand sanitizer.
garbage bags.

if you can carry….I like bottled water. You can boil yours.

Rarebear's avatar

You’re going to have a wonderful trip.

Jude's avatar

@Rarebear It’ll be an adventure!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@syz That bearproofing method has failed in the Adirondacks. They take them down with ease. The DEC came up with “bear proof containers”. It took the bears less than 12 months to figure them out. I don’t know what the answer is. Multiple containers and hope for the best?

Rarebear's avatar

@Jude I just looked at your links (just got to a real computer). I don’t know that area well as my family is from farther west near the Wisconsin border. What I do know, however, is that the lake is COLD. Take your thick skin with you.

Jude's avatar

We’re opting for one of those solar showers. The post about the leaches freaked me out!

Jude's avatar

Yup. :) Haven’t for awhile, though.

Rarebear's avatar

@Jude Don’t worry about the leaches. I’ve never seen them up there.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That’s a nice option to have in the bag of tricks. The bears are starting to concern me. They look at humans as food sources.

Rarebear's avatar

I wouldn’t worry about the bears, either, actually. There was a recent bear attack in the UP but it was from bears that had been supposedly domesticated and kept in a pen. The population density is so low up there that the bears will stay well out of your way. If you were in Yosemite, I’d have a different opinion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Rarebear I’m careful. I plan ahead.

Rarebear's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe (just reading your name for the first time). My brush off of the bears was just for the UP. I cannot speak for the ‘daks. I actually imagine that the ‘daks have a high bear density because of the well traveled path, and I would be careful. I backpack in the Sierras all the time and we either take bear canisters or we double hang our food, depending on where we are.

jonsblond's avatar

You mentioned Lake of the Clouds. Will you be camping in the Porkies? We’ve hiked in the Porkies (stayed at a hotel though). It’s the most beautiful area of the states that I’ve ever visited. You need to check in at the ranger station if you are camping there and they will tell you if there have been any recent bear sightings.

Jude's avatar

@jonsblond I’m not entirely sure. Nikki is planning this, so I’ll ask her.

I remember you saying that you loved it up there. :)

jonsblond's avatar

@Jude We only spent two days in the Porcupine Mountains and I fell in love with it there. It’s my dream to spend a week hiking and backpacking the trails there. I heard most of the bear sightings are along the Superior Trail. Of course that is one of the most scenic trails to hike. You need to visit if you get a chance. It’s breathtaking!

Jude's avatar

We’ll try, and I’ll send you pictures if we do. :)

MollyMcGuire's avatar

It will be cooler than I think you are aware. The nights will be cold! If you’ve never camped before I would suggest you camp in a campground where there is an office with people.

lemming's avatar

You need toilet roll, and little plastic bags to put the, ahem, used toilet roll in.

Try not to camp near a waterfall as it creates white noise and some people start hearing foot steps etc. in that noise range and you could be in for a tense night.

xnightflowerx's avatar

Gosh I am jealous. Looking at those pictures made me UP-homesick. I need so find someone to go up there with this summer, used to be a yearly family thing (I live in southwest MI), then everyone got poor and we stopped going. /:

Anyways. Lots of great advice here. If you’re gonna be making campfires you should bring a shovel, matches/lighter, and some newspaper/cardboard to help start it(or nab some birch bark! That stuffs fun.) We always brought some fire wood with us, or an ax/hatchet to chop up fallen trees in the woods. And ya know campfire things like pokers and smores stuff! lol.

I’d also suggest having a good knife with you, or a few of varying sizes, they come in handy.

Hope you have a wonderful time!!

dappled_leaves's avatar

^ Smores bring to mind this treat a friend found online last summer – we tried it, and was soooooo yummy. We whittled thick sticks instead of bringing broomhandles.

syz's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I thought about listing the bear barrels, but they’re expensive, bulky, and heavy. Not sure what the best alternative is if lofting and barrels don’t work.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@syz I know. These guys are getting so smart in the Adirondacks it’s scary. Fortunately they just want the food and they leave the people alone, for now.

wilma's avatar

@Jude Do not move firewood from place to place in Michigan. It is against the law. (Emerald Ash borer)
You shouldn’t have trouble finding fallen wood in the woods, or you can buy local firewood from camp and convenience stores near your campsite.
Don’t forget to put some waterfalls on your list of things to see.
Eat some pasties, maybe stop in some jewelry or artists shops for some local art or Greenstone jewelry.

Jude's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I’m taking notes.

This is my idea of heaven.

YoBob's avatar

Be sure to put all “smellables” in a bear bag and hang from a tree at a good distance from your tent.

Bear humor:

The current recommendation for hikers is to wear bells on their ankles that will make noise as you walk. the unfamiliar sound tends to make the bears shy away. Important information you need to know about bears is that there are basically two varieties. There is the brown bear, which is generally more docile and the black bear that are known to be a bit more vicious. It is good to know what type of bear is in your area so you can take proper precautions. You can identify the type of bear in your area by examining their droppings. The brown bear generally contains remains of nuts and berries whereas the droppings of black bears are generally denser and contain the remains of copper ankle bells.

wilma's avatar

Umm… we have Black bears in Michigan. ;)

Rarebear's avatar

Actually bear cannisters aren’t that bad any more. I have a Bear Vault BV500 and it’s pretty light. You just need to be really economical in your food.

dappled_leaves's avatar

You really don’t need to resort to canisters or hanging food in trees if your car is at the campsite.

Rarebear's avatar

@dappled_leaves Unless you’re in Yosemite where bears will break into your car.

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