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Posts Tagged ‘Au Sable River’

“During your life, everything you do and everyone you meet rubs off in some way.  Some bit of everything you experience stays with everyone you’ve ever known, and nothing is lost.  That’s what’s eternal, these little specks of experience in a great, enormous river that has no end.”   American Writer Harriet Doerr

From my last entry, you know we have had an early, and very warm spell.  Besides us people being confused about what the calendar should say– the plants are just as confused.    The forsythia is in full bloom, daffodils are everywhere, and even the huge willow trees are almost all leafed out!  Unfortunately we are under a freeze advisory for tonight, I am hoping that not too much damage will be done to these tender blooms.

Since we were supposed to have a beautiful sunny day today, we decided to break out the GPS and get our first geocaching day of 2012 in the books.  I picked 17 caches in the Au Sable River/Oscoda area, since we didn’t have much snow all winter and this spring has been fairly dry, I figured the back roads wouldn’t be too bad.  We packed up our lunch and hit the road.

Our first few caches were found very easily, that is always good, since we goofed a little with our GPS unit, after all, it’s been quite a few months since we’ve used it!  We then headed to the Old Five Channels Bridge for a cache.  We walked out onto the old bridge and found out immediately that the bugs are also confused as to what season it is.  Swarms of small gnat like flies engulfed us and almost drove us off the bridge!  Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find the cache, it was well hidden, but with my husband’s clever eye, he picked it out.

Our next cache took us to the north side of the river to a small park and boat launch area that we had stopped at a couple of years ago.  The reason I remember it so vividly is that as I was standing there, reading some informational signage, I heard a ruckus above my head, and as I turned around to see what it was, a fox squirrel fell out of the tree and almost landed at me feet!  I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my cheeks!  So from that day on, we have always referred to that place as the “Squirrel Falling” place.  When I noticed someone had placed a cache in the vicinity, I was very glad to go back, today unfortunately, so such event took place.  After finding the cache, we were walking back to the picnic area and as I looked down, I spotted a small garter snake slithering away, I felt bad about disturbing it’s ‘sun bathing’ session and just a few feet away, I also noticed a little lavender colored butterfly flitting about.  I had to keep telling myself that it is still March, not late April!  I was amazed at what we were seeing.  We decided to eat our lunch there and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We then moved on farther down the river to a cache that had us a little stumped on how to get to, so we found a two-track and drove down as far as we could and figured we could hike the rest of the way.  It was after all, a beautiful day, and getting a hike in is just icing on the cake!  After a short way, we came to a paved road and a very nice parking area and scenic overlook that highlighted the Bald Eagles in the area!  Ok, so we pooched that one, but the hike was still nice.  As we were looking for the cache, a beautiful eagle flew over us and landed not far away.  I crept out to the clearing and was able to get a couple of good pictures before it flew off.  How cool!  We determined it was a juvenile, no white on it yet.  So I figured that if we had driven out there, we wouldn’t have seen the eagle.  Right?!  After getting back to the car, another couple drove up and we chatted with them and they were also cachers, looking for the same cache that we just came from.  We hinted to them that there was an easier way to the cache, but didn’t want to spoil it for them, just in case they also wanted to do a little hiking.

Our next cache took us to the Foote Pond area.  There is a paddle boat called the Au Sable Queen there that gives cruises and such, but currently still out of the water, it is after all, only March!  After locating the cache, I noticed a couple of swans in the area so I crept down to the bank to get some pictures.  Boy was I shocked that when they noticed me, they actually started swimming towards me!  I’m thinking they are residents and that they have gotten hand-outs from well-meaning people.  Unfortunately for them, the only thing they received from me, was a spotlight in my blog!  At first we thought they were Tundra Swans, but after looking in my bird book, we noticed they did not have the yellow smudge on their bills that the Tundra Swans have, it was then we realized that they were Trumpeter Swans!  What a surprise, I didn’t think Trumpeters were in this area, but from what we’ve learned, this is a summer breeding area for a small number of them.  But since they swam right up to us, I think they are residents at the Foote Pond.  What a great day!

Our remaining caches were quickly found with no such surprises and we finished our day around 5:00 pm, grabbed a quick bite and headed home.  For our first day out, it was a great one!  Our wildlife spottings were:  1 Hawk, 1 Garter snake, 1 lavender butterfly, 1 juvenile Eagle, and 2 Trumpeter swans.  A very good day indeed.

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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The last few weeks have been hectic at best, so when we decided to do some caching today, I was looking forward to a day of strolling through the woods and getting away from all the craziness that is going on in our park.  We picked out two separate series of caches, the first on the northeast side of the Au Sable Rive near Glennie, and the other series took us near Curtisville to the southwest side of the river.  I knew the woods would be full of mosquitoes and other biting insects, so to prepare, we brought our head nets and made sure we had long sleeves and long pants on.   The day started bright and sunny with a good breeze so I again packed a picnic lunch and off we went.

After about thirty minutes of driving, we turned down a dirt road on the way to the first cache and just as we crested a small hill, what we saw in front of us totally surprised us.  A very large black bear was walking on all fours across the road!  Now being from Michigan, I knew there were bears and other large predatory animals here, but we always thought they were confined to the Upper Peninsula.  Not so!!!  We turned and looked at each other with eyes the size of saucers and the first word out of my mouth was “BEAR!” and Robert immediately said “Where’s the camera?!”  We fumbled around and by the time we got the camera out, the bear had finished crossing the road and was gone into the woods.  I was hesitant to drive on, not knowing if cubs were in the area, so I slowly crept up to where the bear had crossed and we looked into the woods on both sides to see if any more were in the area.  None were seen, so after letting my heart rate come back to normal, we drove on.  I immediately began to think of all the things we DIDN’T have with us, like bells on our shoes, a hiking stick (or bear stick as we call it), bear spray, etc., etc.  So by the time we got to our first cache, I told myself I was not going to worry about making noise in the woods today.  For me, the noisier, the better!  I wasn’t going to surprise anything.

Our first series of caches was a mixed bag of finds and DNF’s (did not find).   One of our DNF’s was a micro, or very small cache, usually a bison tube or medicine bottle or smaller.  After decoding the hint, we still could not find it, and with bear still on my mind, we decided to move on.  The two-track we were following ended right on the banks of the Au Sable River at an area that is well off the beaten path and I’m sure is not seen by many people.  I snapped this picture on our way to the cache hidden not far away.   I named this post “Our Beautiful Au Sable River” as all of us that live here in Northeast Michigan will agree, it is a beautiful river.

 

We picked up one more cache on our way back down the two-track, this one required a bit of a hike, all uphill, and just as we were coming to the top, a beautiful Broad-winged Hawk flew up from the ground which froze me in my tracks as I watched it try to gain altitude and fly through the trees.  We couldn’t see where it landed, or if it continued to fly on, it always amazes me that most wildlife is invisible until you are right on them!  We found the cache easily and then hiked back down to the Jeep.

With this series done, except for the two DNF’s, we decided to try to find the start of the other series we had picked out.  After a few dead-ends, that didn’t get us into the area of the caches, we realized that the caches were a series that follows a section of the Shore-To-Shore Trail.  This trail is for horseback riders and hikers and travels from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.  While I’ve been wanting to hike this trail, we weren’t prepared to do this portion of it today, so we decided to leave that series for a day in the fall, when we can dedicate an entire day to pick up those caches along that series and enjoy a good day hike.

So we decided to go down to Thompson’s Landing, which is a canoe/kayak put-in on the Au Sable River and eat our picnic lunch there.  It was a beautiful afternoon and watching the river float by is very soothing and calming.  Much needed for me today!

So our wildlife spottings today were:  1 black bear, 1 Broad-winged hawk, 2 garter snakes, 1 Kingfisher, and 4 Common Snipes, and an unknown butterfly or moth (pictured below).   A good day indeed!

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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A few weeks ago we were invited to a geocaching event on Saturday, April 30th.  It was being hosted by a couple of cachers from the South Branch area and we were to meet in South Branch at a local restaurant for breakfast.  Robert and I have never attended a geocaching event before, so we were a little uncertain about going, but after seeing the “cache names” of some of the people that were attending, we decided to go.  We have either seen their names on the logs of caches we found, or have found the caches that they put out.  So we thought it would be nice to be able to put faces to their names.  We had a very enjoyable time meeting our fellow cachers from the Northeastern Michigan area and even sharing a story or two.  (Breakfast was pretty good too!)

Since we knew we were going to be in South Branch, we decided to try to get the caches around the Alcona Pond area that we were unable to get to three weeks ago due to the road conditions.  Since we’ve had a lot of rain in the Au Gres area recently, we weren’t sure if the roads, (I use that term loosely, I should probably say “two tracks”) were going to be underwater, or mud bogs, but we had to try.

Our first cache was tricky at best.  The name of it is “Between The Waters”, (put out by the couple that hosted the morning’s event) so we knew water was going to be a factor.  We found the parking area at a very nice little pond, and then we started following the gps.  The name of the cache became evident pretty quickly.  All we had to do, was figure out how to get to it and stay somewhat dry.  Without giving anything away, we found it ‘between the waters’ and decided to drop off a travel bug that we put a few miles on.

A few caches later, we found ourselves on yet another two track, I was happily bumping along until we came upon a portion of a tree that was in our way.  Robert opened the door to get out and just a few feet away, a grouse was walking around.  He immediately turned and pointed it out to me and then it flew off.  I was amazed that it didn’t fly off as we approached it!  We bumped along a little more and then we came upon a rather large tree across the trail.  We were unable to move this tree without cutting it first, and since we had no hand saw we knew we couldn’t go further.  So reluctantly I turned around and headed back out.  Not far from where we seen the grouse, two deer jumped across the trail in front of us.  I stopped and watched them for a bit.  They turned and looked at us, we said ‘hello’ , which perked their ears in our direction, and then they strolled off.

We noticed a lot of vehicles in the woods and we initially thought they were turkey hunters, but after passing a couple traipsing through the woods with a mesh bag in hand, we knew right away it is morel season!  Since I have yet to find a morel mushroom, I began looking as we walked to each cache.  I realized I have to educate myself on where to find them and what to look for.

After finding our last cache at around 7:00 pm, we were on our way back towards the Oscoda area and as I came around a corner, I notice two deer near the edge of the road.  I stopped and Robert grabbed the camera for me.

Two deer trying to figure out what I was doing!

Like the other two deer earlier, they stopped and stared at us for the longest time.  A truck came up behind me and stopped and asked if we were ok.  He notice the very large branch we were dragging under the Jeep and thought we may have been broken down.  I had no idea I was dragging anything!  We were able to dislodge it, and were very grateful he stopped and told us about it.  I guess we would have noticed it eventually!

We had a very good caching day, our wildlife sightings totaled 6 deer, 1 grouse,  3 sandhill cranes, and 5 hawks.  And we were able to get all but one of the caches that we couldn’t get earlier.  It was a good day indeed!

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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We are having some pretty nasty weather here in the Au Gres area, we’ve gotten so much rain that the walk to our deck and my flower bed are underwater.  It’s kind of comical to see my mulch floating around.  Thankfully, I have decorative stone around it or I’d be cleaning mulch out of the yard!  So, we’ve had to put our caching on hold for a few days.  I thought you might be interested to know how and why Robert and I got into geocaching.

On our profile at geocaching.com, we are listed as being members since Nov of 2007 but our first cache wasn’t found until Nov 7, 2010.  Why the delay you may wonder?  Robert had heard of geocaching back when we were stationed in Portland, Maine in the late 1990’s, but we didn’t have the time to research it further.  In 2007, Robert came across the geocaching website by accident, but again, we didn’t have the time to research it further.

In September 2010, we were camping on Cooke Pond on the Au Sable River and decided to hike the Highbanks Trail out to the Canoer’s Memorial and back.  While eating our snacks at the Memorial, we noticed two elderly ladies head into the woods down the trail we had just come off of.  We were intrigued, not at the fact that two ladies headed down a hiking trail, but the fact that they had to be in their 80’s or even 90’s.  We finished our snacks and headed back down the trail.  Shortly we met up with the elderly ladies and struck up a conversation.  I asked them if they hiked much, and that’s when they told us they were geocaching.  That sparked the interest again, but this time, we have the time to devote to it, so we dove in.  We learned how to navigate the website, and how to find caches that are hidden in our area.  We dug out our old GPS unit, which was approximately 10 years old, but still seemed to work fine.  We loaded the lats/longs into our GPS and decided to head out to River Road, which runs along the Au Sable River.  We started at the Canoer’s Memorial, since there is a cache not far down the trail from there.  We didn’t know what to look for, but our GPS got us fairly close to GZ and then we spotted it.  We were both excited, and instantly hooked.

Is it the hunt?  Is it the find?  We don’t know which is better.  All we know is that we enjoy both aspects of it.  But it also gets us into areas that we would probably not have ever visited.  So we have become much more aware of our surrounding area, and we are hoping someday that we will find our ideal plot of land to finally settle down on.  Who knows!?

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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Since I started this blog earlier in the week, I wanted to back-track a little in time and tell you about a mini-marathon of geocaching that Robert and I embarked on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of April.

We had just gotten back from our trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast and were anxious to get back to caching in our own state.  I picked out a dozen or so caches north of the Midland area and since we are in “mud” season now, I tried to stay on roads that I knew were “do-able”  That phrase will come in to play a little later.

It started out quite dreary and rainy, we hadn’t cached in the rain before, but we figured if we only cached on sunny days, we’d never get a chance to go.  Especially in April, in Michigan!  The first few caches were pretty easy park and grabs.  We commemorated our 200th cache by dropping off a Travel Bug in a cache named Great White Hunter.  We then continued around the area of Wixom Lake, a very large lake that is part of the Tittibiwassee River, surprised that there was still quite a bit of ice on the lake.  We ended our day with five caches in the Gladwin State Game Area.  They are part of a series entitled Treasure Hunt and they are all named after precious gems.  We did the first 18 last fall, but were unable to do these five either due to hunters in the area, and/or the lack of daylight.  We are not into caching in the dark, especially in an area we are unfamiliar with!  I’d probably still be out there wandering around!  On our way to the last cache, we hiked up a small hill and just as we arrived at the top, we stirred up five very large white tail deer.  I don’t know who was more scared, the deer or me.  My first thought was, “Wow, these guys made it through hunting season, good for them!”  Hunting season around our place is really rather noisy.  We are usually awakened at dawn with the first “kabooms” , and then very frequently after that.  With all of the shooting going on, I’m surprised there are any deer left at all up here.  We really have to curtail our outdoors activities for that two week period,  I’d hate to be the lead story on the evening news.  Anyway…just before finding the cache, we had another surprise.  Robert found a little garter snake that had obviously came out of it’s hole a little too soon.  It wasn’t frozen solid, but it was really quite rubbery.  I felt really bad for it, so I buried it under some leaves, and hoped for the best.  We then found the cache, signed the log and headed to Gladwin for a pizza.  Well deserved right?!

After getting home that evening, Robert was searching for more caches and discovered some newly put out ones in the Alcona Pond area.  Since we hadn’t cached in that area yet, we quickly decided to get up early (8:00 am! early for us) and do another day of caching.

I packed a picnic lunch, gathered all of our ‘cache stuff’ together, and off we went.  The first one was the harbinger for things to come.  The gps pointed us down a two-track that was still partly covered in snow, and also had very large mud holes and ruts.  Obviously, others had gone down this trail, so why not us?!  Right.  Now I am the one driving, and my adventure level is usually pretty high, but when the thought of burying our jeep in a mud hole in the middle of nowhere, and having to walk to get help (no cell service), my apprehensions were also quite high.  But with my cheerleader sitting next to me saying, “awe come on honey, it’s a Jeep” I reluctantly continued on.  We didn’t get stuck, and the cache was in a very beautiful area on the banks of the Au Sable River.  The scenery was well worth the white knuckled trip down the two-track.  We made it out ok and the next few caches were off much better roads.  We were the first to find at a cache called Aspen Alley, and what a beautiful place that was.  The trek through the snow was not easy, but well worth it.  I didn’t even think about throwing our snowshoes in, but we could have used them!  Our last cache was down a road that looked do-able at the beginning, but then quickly turned into a “what was I thinking!” road.  It narrowed quickly and soon was evident that no one had been down it all winter.  After narrowly escaping being sucked into a ditch of undetermined depth, I stopped and said we are not going any further.  Robert did agree with me at that point and soon we switch positions, and he got us turned around and back out to the main road.  Our poor Jeep was mud from the top to the bottom!  By then, our daylight was quickly running out, so we decided to continue on the next day, with the caches on the west side of the Alcona Pond.

Again, we got up ‘early’, packed a lunch and off we went.  This day started out very sunny but not as warm as we’d have liked, but nice none-the-less.  A pathtag had been put in a cache called Bee Happy!, so that was high on our list, and it just so happened to be on our way to the pond.  The cache was at a quaint little shop that was decorated with everything pertaining to bees.  We recovered the pathtag, which was from the MiGO (Michigan Geocaching Organization) folks.  Unfortunately, the business was not open, so we were unable to figure out if this was a “honey house” or just a gift shop that was all about bees.  We then continued on to Alcona Pond and the roads we had to travel today were much better than yesterday.  We were able to get four, first to finds, which is a treat for any geocacher.  We also seen two eagles locking their talons in mid-flight and spinning wildly towards the ground, only to let go just before reaching terra firma and flying back up, only to do it again.  What a treat!  We also seen three hawks, quite a few early season chipmunks, and was startled by two grouse.  Not bad for one day.  The Alcona Pond area is a beautiful place, and we do plan on coming back up to do some hiking and even kayaking the river and pond in this area.

Namaste,

Sheri

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