Thursday, September 24, 2009

Origins of the Manistee River Trail Association

Manistee River TRail
Manistee River from the MRT (photo by otisourcat)
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The creation of the Manistee River Trail Association has a long and winding back story.

Its one of those you have to know it started to appreciate where it leads.

When I was a kid my family and I would camp along the back waters of the Tippy Dam at least a few times a year. My brother and I would play the normal kid games running the woods pretending we were in the Army. It was always a special time that my family and I would spend together. Almost every time we would camp, we would hike. Many times we would hike the “northeast” side of Red Bridge; this was always my favorite place to hike. I remember being so enchanted as a child, the area felt so big and wild.

Looking out over the river I felt I was in a different world, seeing the wildlife that a city boy from Grand Rapids only got to see “up north”. Years went by, I started to grow up and the family camping trips happened less and less. I still visited the area, taking friends to camp there, hunting in the area, what we referred to generically as “Red Bridge” never left my thoughts or heart. After the years went by, I found myself living in Traverse City.

That is where I got into backpacking and met my girlfriend. Oddly enough, my girlfriend took a job in the little town of Manistee. After about a year and knowing I was in love with the woman, I decided to move in with her. Low and behold the Manistee National Forest was now in my backyard. Camping, hiking and backpacking country was very accessible to me now. The area I had hiked as a kid was now a full fledged, designated trail. After hiking the trail numerous times, solo and with friends it became evident to me that the trail was in need of some attention. There were many campfire conversations on what needed to be done on the trail, that was the easy part, the hard part was how we can get these things accomplished. That is when I came up with idea to start an association, one that would be aimed at the protection and preservation of the trail. So with a handful of great friends the MRTA was born. The thing I like to convey to people is that even while the desire that has driven me to start this endeavor has a long sentimental past, it is future that is more important to me and to us. The Manistee River Trail Association was formed to ensure that the trail and the surrounding area are protected for generations to come. We are looking forward to the ’08 season and really pushing for action this year.

2008 will be the year that we really start to get organized and put some plans into motion.

This is a brand new organization (officially formed in June ’07) and while we are young we have great aspirations for the trail. Some of the things we have planned for the trail include: rebuild/repair the boardwalk that crosses the marsh, short reroutes to combat the areas of erosion that plague the trail. The list goes on, most of the issues we have are simple maintenance/preventative maintenance. With all the work talk out of the way I would like to add that we are all about fun and games as well. One of the biggest reason we decided to create this assoc. is build a network of friends that enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking and the like. You will find on our website “Base Camp” where we have a message board for all to enjoy. We look forward to seeing everyone out on the trail this year and hope you all would consider joining us in our mission.

See Manistee River Trail Association
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