Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Town Corner Lake Campground, Black River

A note: the information I find on state forest campgrounds is somewhat insufficient. There are public domain descriptions and a lovely set of facts published by the DNR; but, I find woefully little physical information as to those things that matter: layout, privacy, scenery.

I want to know that my campsite is not merely a road turn-off. We have those in Michigan: campsites that are merely turnoffs from the county road. Seeing one makes me wish for better pictures on the DNR site. Perhaps, any pictures at all on the DNR site might help. Surely they have a couple interns who can take some snaps in summer.

When I am king ...

 The Pigeon Forest surrounds the Black River. As such, the roads are indeed forest roads. They'd recently had their spring maintenance when I arrived but the roadside -- for there are no ditches -- showed evidence of some  fall/winter adventures which may have buried more than one hunter's truck.

It's fifteen miles from paved lane back into this campsite. Be advised that your minivan may not be the vehicle to drive should you get caught in an inch or more of rain. In many places, the road is carved deeply into the forest floor and shows signs of holding a great deal of water.  Above left, the entrance sign.

The campground is sited on the edge of Town Corner lake. There are several of these deep pocket lakes in the Pigeon River country (the area is known colloquially for the Pigeon River and not the Black or Sturgeon which also flow through the timber).

The above panorama gives you an idea of the stunning beauty of these forty to eighty acres pools. In summer, this campground would be a delight. The water was forty-three degrees when I was camping. That's a great deal of "brisk" liquid mass by the campsite. The morning breeze did make the hot coffee a special treat. Wih a wool sweater and a down vest, I could appreciate the slight morning breeze over a hot tin cup of brew (annodized aluminum, actually.  Olicamp make a fantastic field mug. It is the old enameled camp mug improved. Really. ).

There was a hard freeze Friday night as well.

There is well water -- off campsite 4.  Only a dozen campsites are at the campground and they're well spaced. About two-thirds are on a quarter-circle directly above the lake. Campsite 1 is in a dell right opening right onto the water yet directly at the entrance, It would have a lot of traffic and thus dust rolling by throughout the day. Still, a special site.

 A typical large camp site pad. Some are quite large as shown here. Others are merely generous. None are small.

Fire pits and picnic tables. No hang posts. Be advised.

Lake in background. The lake's edge is ten yards down a hill from the campsite's back edge.

 Above, site 11 after I set-up base. I expected a little drizzle Friday night so I deployed the tarp for a dry vestibule near my tent if I chose to sit and smoke a pipe.  I carried a small tarp and did not rig for serious wet weather. Sunday was due for more than an inch of rain starting around dawn. Monday would see more of the same. I took off on Friday to make a camp in early afternoon and explore. Saturday was trout opener and I planned to fish all day.

The lake from the back of campsite 11 on Saturday morning. Stunning.

The ducks were back though I didn't catch any in this picture. I suspect wood ducks down along the back corner of the lake for I saw a pair fly out low across the water.

The woods are full of bird survey solicitations. These are the first I've seen and I'm impressed.

The Pigeon Forest is home to a large number of migrating songbirds and the survey will yield interesting data about density and population. This particular sign is a couple miles from the campground though there is one in the campground itself and at least three others within a half mile.

 Obligatory camp cookery shot. Supper Friday evening was a "field risotto"  of  smoked sausage, peppers, onions, and celery  seasoned with garlic, cumin, and paprika. Think "wilderness creole rice." The risotto is surprisingly easy to master over a fire: saute the rice thoroughly before you start adding the liquid; and, then add the liquid in three batches stirring well at each addition.

Wonderful meal. Pita packs small and cleans up the pan as well. I eat out of the pan when camping alone.

 Opener breakfast. Cleaning water boiling. A mug of strong coffee from the second pot staying warm as I snap pictures. Biscuits baking in the Banks Fry-Bake at rear.
Cat-Head biscuits. The photo is a little bleached. They're golden on the bottom and a nice uniform brown on top. The tips of the tops haven't started to darken to dutch brown yet.

Key: don't knead the mixings past incorporating the liquid. I use water in the field because I make the dry mix with powdered buttermilk, butter, and a touch of not-lard (concession to the physician ... not-lard) and store it in the cooler when car camping. I add water to the gallon bag, smash it around, let the dough sit a minute, one more smash to make sure the dough holds together, then scoop out four nice cat head sized  biscuits. The crumb is perfectly light and uniform.

Fifteen minutes in the kitchen prepping the food makes a big difference in the quality of chow at the campsite.

I hope this helps other folks thinking of dashing to the Town Corner Lake State Forest Campground. The Black River fishing is good and the campsite is far enough off the beaten trail to be a dependable weekend dash destination.


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