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Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011
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Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 02/12/2011 16:01:27 MST Print View

This was my most recent "36" (cause 24 is just too short) at the Hoist Lakes in the Huron-Manistee National Forest in the northeast corner of Michigan. I'm a little embarrassed to post this given the amazing scenery others have displayed recently, but it is one of my favorite places for a quick getaway in lower Michigan. What Michigan lacks in scenic vistas, it makes up for with rivers and forests, and the north woods are deep, quiet, and snowy this time of year.

I woke up at 3 am (funny how I never need an alarm clock on nights like this), grabbed my pack, and headed out, stopping to tank up on water and breakfast sandwiches en-route. I arrived at the trailhead at 7:30, noting on my car thermometer that it was a little colder than I would have liked.


I geared up and hit the trail. My pack was a little above UL standards due to the addition of a 7 lb ice auger, rod, and strainer strapped to the sides.


The wind was biting so I quickly covered exposed skin. I was wearing 2 baselayers, with a "spare tire" of water bottle, batteries, stove alcohol, and camera. Not a flattering look.

spare tire

There was about a foot and a half of powdery snow blanketing the forest, but the trail was well trod and easy going.



I made the 2 miles to South Hoist Lake in an hour and poised to check out the familiar campsite there. It contains a log bench and forest service fire pit on a small hill overlooking the lake. In winter, the unmarred snow blowing across the lake surface conjures feelings of solitude.

South Hoist
Looking out over South Hoist Lake

The sun had come out by this time and the air began to feel warmer. Stashing my fishing gear behind some trees, I prepared to make tracks to see some of the other lakes in the area. With the auger tucked away, my pack was a comfortable 12 lb now. I carried all of my backpacking gear with me, as I was not sure I would be returning to the South Hoist campsite by nightfall. The well blazed trail petered out past the lake, leaving just the tracks of a lone cross country skier. I idly wondered who the skier was, wishing I could have seen the unbroken snow stretching in front of me as they had.

breaking tracks

I was kept company during my trek by some well-fed black squirrels.
squirrel hole

The mystery skier turned off at an unmarked two-track and I continued on, spotting some coyote tracks in the snow.


The going was slower now and I decided to shorten my loop to 5 miles to allow time for setting up camp and fishing. I passed a number of smaller lakes (No-name, Penoyer, and North Hoist before finally making my way back to my chosen campsite.

no name

penoyer lake
Penoyer Lake

Rushes by South Hoist

I'll spare you the pictures of the other lakes as they all look pretty similar on film.

Getting back to South Hoist, I set up my tarp broadside to the wind, putting up small snow walls to keep out the draft.


I then put on all of my layers (2 base layers, windshirt, nano puff, and light down pullover) and went down to the lake to fish.

Dressed to fish

s hoist
The view from the lake

Drilling a hole

Cheap plastic rod and strainer complete the gear

The fishing was relatively slow, but I did catch (and release) a pretty rainbow.

As the sun started to go down, the clouds closed in again. This was my favorite picture from the trip.


I built a small fire and cooked up a pot of linguini with mushrooms and white beans.


After dinner, I relaxed by the fire for a short while, briefly wishing I had brought a little whiskey. I headed for my sleeping bag before the sun fully set.

I slept warmly as the snow began to fall again, waking several times to tap the walls of the tarp. I rose at 5 am and packed up in the dark. It was cold again, and hard to leave the warmth of my downy nest. Other duties called though and I would answer. But not before a giant diner breakfast (the North Forest Cafe in Standish).

snow on tarp

walking in dark

Edited by Ike on 02/13/2011 01:10:09 MST.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 02/12/2011 16:23:20 MST Print View

Looks like you had a great time. Ive always wanted to check that area out. I always seem to just do the manistee. Thats awesome that you caught a rainbow. Ive never really put ice fishing and backpacking together but I might have to do that sometime.

Thanks for sharing your trip

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011" on 02/12/2011 16:48:47 MST Print View

Awesome Ike!

Ice fishing!? I don't know how you Midwesterners get out there and do it in those temps. I'm a lightweight, I think 40F is chilly. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 02/12/2011 17:03:32 MST Print View

What a fun trip Ike! Great pics too. Thanks for sharing.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 02/12/2011 18:33:32 MST Print View

Ike -- thank you for the photos. My daughter and I were up there last fall, but I think it looks better in the winter.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 02/12/2011 18:53:52 MST Print View


That's a healthy trout! Looks like a great time. I've never camped in that kind of snow but you seem to have mastered it!

Thanks for sharing.


Rick Harjes
(rharjes) - F
Pack on 03/01/2011 16:27:05 MST Print View

Ike, What pack are you using?


Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Pack on 03/01/2011 19:22:26 MST Print View

Hi Rick,
It's a Granite Gear Virga.

Matt Mitchell
(mjmitchell) - F
Hoist Lakes Great in the Winter on 03/18/2011 16:15:23 MDT Print View

I enjoyed reading about your Hoist Lakes trek. I've lived in Alpena my whole life, but only visited Hoist Lakes for the first time this Sunday. It's a very solitude place and not only did I feel like I was the only one out there (which I'm sure I was because I broke the trail), but it even felt like no one had been there all winter (I guess I was wrong about that). I didn't even know Hoist Lakes existed until last summer when I happened to be on Aspen Valley Road and discovered the west entrance. I may not have even thought about returning for a hike, but when I pulled in the parking lot last summer there was a man and his kids putting on their packs -- just starting their adventure and in talking to them a minute it sounded like a neat trail system. Honestly, I didn't even know we had any backpacking trails in my neck of the woods. I'm more of a cross country skier than a backpacker, but Sunday I put on my dad's snowshoes and really enjoyed exploring Hoist Lakes. We received about 6-8 inches of heavy wet snow Saturday night which covered all of the trees with a beautiful blanket. Apparently I covered only what you left off, Ike, because I only did Carp Lake and Byron Lake. Thanks again...good to know more people are enjoying Hoist.Looking back towards the west trail head.  6-8 inches of fresh wet snow.

Zachary Zrull
(zackcentury) - F

Locale: Great Lakes
hoist lake on 04/04/2011 03:46:56 MDT Print View

Interesting, I took a 36er to Hoist Lake last summer to test some of my new gear. I didn't like it very much, but this may have been because I didn't pack a fishing rod. I did see deer at sunset and hear coyotes as I went to bed... But my favorite places in MI so far have been N Manitou Island and around Nordhouse Dunes.

Maybe I'll give Hoist another try in the snow next year.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Huron-Manistee National Forest, Feb 10-11-2011 on 03/10/2013 11:17:42 MDT Print View

Hi Ike,

We should have a Bpl meet here soon.