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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

“He is rich who is content with the least; for contentment is the wealth of nature.”  Socrates (469-399);  Philosopher

The weather in Michigan seems to always be a topic of conversation to native Michiganians.  We always say, “if you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change”.  Yesterday was a fine example.  We awoke to blue skies and temperatures already in the 50’s with a strong southerly wind.  We were forecasted to be in the high 70’s and I was looking forward to being able to get some yard work done.

After a brisk “hilly” walk, we did some errands in town and on the way back, I decided to mulch up those beautiful leaves that just a few days ago were on the trees all around us.  I used them as compost in my flowerbeds since the soil is poor at best, so any organic material will be a bonus to it.

I believe another flock of Trumpeter Swans has made a pit stop on our lake.  I don’t know if they were the same ones as before, so I’m only guessing that it may be a new flock coming from the north.  And like the previous flock, their honking makes me chuckle when I hear it.  I now have a nickname for the swans, “buoy butts”.  We were driving through a campground on Alcona Pond a few days ago and I seen a pair of swans near what I thought were swim buoys, but instead, they were swans that had tipped their butts up in the air so they could eat off the bottom.  I was very surprised when they popped up and realized what they were!

Today was the second day that a wild turkey has flown by the house and landed in the pine tree out front.  What is kind of odd is that the turkey landed on the same branch of the same tree as the previous one did.  Is this branch a “safe house” of sorts?  Do the turkeys know that is a good place to get away from whatever scared them off the ground?  My husband tells me that turkeys don’t like to fly much so it must have been something they were definitely afraid of to make this one fly and land so high in the tree.  I just hope that it finds it’s flock again, but I’m sure it will.

Our change in the weather came overnight.  A front from the west moved through and today is party cloudy with a high of maybe 50 degrees.   Still a brisk wind, but somewhat pleasant if you can find a protected area.  A big change is coming, we have a chance of snow showers on Tuesday with a high only in the 30’s.  That will feel like winter is just around the corner.

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“My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.”  Jim Henson (1936-1990); American Puppeteer

When I woke up this morning, I knew I wanted to do something outside.   When I watched the weather and they said the winds were supposed to kick up today, I figured a bike ride would not be very fun.  So my next immediate thought was a hike.  I have been wondering if the pair of loons we seen on Reid Lake last year had come back, so we decided to go hike the Reid Lake area to check.  I packed a couple to PB&Js, some chips and chocolate and off we went.  By the time we got to the trailhead, the wind was howling, it had turned cloudy and quite cool, only in the mid 40’s.  Considering we were in the 80’s a week and a half ago, we are back to more normal temperatures now, but boy, the warm weather was nice while it lasted!

We immediately noticed the amount of down-fall.  We thought back over the winter, and realized that we may not have had much snow, but we did have a lot of wind.  And looking around, that was pretty evident.  The first junction of the Homestead Loop is right at Reid Lake, and unfortunately, no sign of the loons, but we did scare up a grouse, or should I say, it scared me!   We did a quick Tai Chi practice, to honor Mother Nature, and continued on down the trail.  About half way around the lake, we seen and heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes fly over, we figured they were going to one of the other bodies of water in the area.

We then worked our way around Fanny’s Marsh Loop and was surprised at the amount of water that was in it.  We also noticed a very large flock of Bufflehead ducks on it and almost right in the middle was a very large beaver lodge.  Whether it was still an active lodge, we couldn’t tell, but it was an impressive one.  We stopped and ate our lunch on a large fallen tree and always had to keep one eye looking up.  The wind was still quite strong and the trees were swaying and crashing into each other up high and every now and then, we seen and heard branches coming down.

We then started around the Mossy Bog Loop and that loop was definitely true to it’s name.  We found ourselves avoiding some wet areas, but not too bad for early Spring.  Until…all of a sudden our trail disappeared into the bog!  Thankfully, we were able to pick our way around the bog and eventually got back onto the main trail.  On the other side, we immediately discovered the reason for the high water, a beaver dam.  We could tell that this dam was old, but the engineering and architecture was such that it looked like it was going to be there for quite some time to come.    Just a little way up the trail, we came to a rather long foot bridge across yet another beaver pond.  This one also had a large lodge in the center of it, and again, we couldn’t tell if it was still active, but the lodge and the dam looked like they were there for the long haul.  It’s amazing what beavers can do!!

 We also spotted a lot of the False Morel Mushrooms, but couldn’t find any of the edible Morels.  Not sure if the latest cold weather put a damper on their popping up.  What we did miss today were the scurrying, furry little Chipmunks or Ground Squirrels.  We usually see at least a few dozen when we are in these woods, but today, the ground was quiet.  All of the wildlife we observed was of the winged families.

Our wildlife sighting list goes like this:  8 Wild Turkeys, 2 Hawks, 1 Grouse, a flock of Bufflehead Ducks, 4 Mallards, 2 Sandhill Cranes, and 1 Green-backed Heron.  Overall, a great 5.5 mile hike on an early Spring day.

Happy Hiking,

Sheri

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On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to say “Thank You!” to all of my fellow Veterans.  I have very fond memories of all of the people I’ve
served with and hope they are doing well today.  I didn’t make a lot of smart choices at the age of 18, but joining the Coast Guard was one smart choice I did make.  I have never regretted signing up and feel that every day I was in the service, made me into a stronger and better person, and for that I am always grateful.  So in honor of Veteran’s Day, and this unique number day (11-11-11), Robert and I decided to try to get 11 caches.  He picked out about 15 of them in the West Branch area, so I packed up our ‘caching goodies’ and off we went.

It’s been really cold and wet the last few days, and we’ve even gotten some snow showers yesterday, so we weren’t sure what condition the woods were going to be in, but we layered up and hoped for the best.  The series that we started with had the title “A Trail Less Traveled”.  That is exactly what it was, a trail!  It started off ok, and we picked up our first couple caches with no problems, but the farther back into the ‘middle of nowhere’ we got, the trail seemed to be less and less traveled.  We had to shove a few small fallen trees out of the way, and finally we got to a mud hole that I really didn’t want to drive through.  I didn’t know how deep it was and I really did not want to get stranded out here, so we parked and decided to get the next 3 or 4 caches by foot.  Which is always fine for me, if I can get some hiking in while we are caching, that’s double the fun for me!

One of the caches we were headed to had the word “Swamp” in the title.  And with the amount of water we’ve seen in the area, I knew we were heading into some mucky area.  Little did I know, until my shoe got sucked off my foot, just how mucky it was going to be!  Yes, I stepped off a root area and my foot immediately sank into an unknown depth of muck and I went to keep walking and off comes my shoe!  Luckily I had a tree nearby to grab so I didn’t end up on my butt!  I couldn’t get my shoe out while standing on one foot, meanwhile, Robert had to carefully pick his way to me and he finally grabbed it and with a yank and a muddy sucking sound, my shoe finally came out!  I was able to slip it back on and get myself out of that area and on to the cache.  What makes all of this worth it?…when we located the cache, we discovered a pathtag in it!  So I did a little jig in the middle of the swamp with a wet, soggy, and muddy foot!  On our way back to our vehicle, we began to hear ATVs in the area, and then some gunfire!  I know rifle deer season doesn’t start until the 15th, but that still makes me a little nervous.  So when we scared up a deer on our way out, I told him to go hide for the next two weeks!

After leaving this area, we went on to the Ogemaw Hills Ski Area for a couple of caches.  Just a few days ago, we were talking about the skiing we did out here and I wondered what the trails would be like to hike, and wouldn’t you know, I was hiking them today, how cool!  Everything always seems so different when you’re hiking trails that you usually ski.  You don’t get to see the tree roots, rocks and other debris that you usually just glide over when there is a good foot of snow on the ground.  We located the two caches easily and then on to our final ones.

Our last cache ended up being at an old artesian well.  From the size of the pipe, it looks like it used to flow with much more volume than it has now.  That would have been very impressive to see!  We located the cache easily and with the sun setting much earlier than before the time change, we decided to call it a day, with 10 total caches found today.

Overall, it was a great caching and hiking day, hopefully we will be able to get back out soon!  Our wildlife count was:
2 bald eagles, 1 hawk, 1 whitetail deer, and 1 very large black squirrel.   A good day indeed!

Happy Caching!

Sheri

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During the long, hot, buggy summer, we began planning our fall  trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  This year we decided to go back to Copper Harbor since it has been over 20 years since our last visit there.  We also decided to combine some of our favorite activities:  hiking, geocaching, waterfall hunting, and we also included copper hunting this time, we were after all, going to “copper country”.  We arrived in Copper Harbor late in the afternoon, and checked into our small cabin that we had rented and then walked around town for a bit, mostly to alleviate the sitting we had to endure for the last 10 hours.  The weather was not ideal, it was cool, cloudy, windy and showery.   We know that the weather in Michigan in the fall is unpredictable, so we dressed for whatever weather we had at the time.

After a very nice dinner at a local restaurant, we went back to the cabin to plan our next day’s geocache adventure.  There were approximately 26 caches on a seasonal road that we decided to do.   We arose early the next day, grabbed a quick breakfast, packed some “caching snacks” and off we went.  It was raining on and off so our Jeep quickly became encased in a film of orange mud.  That was something new to me, I’d never experienced the orange, or should I say, copper colored mud before, so we quickly flipped over the mats inside our Jeep (much easier to clean the mud off the rubber side instead of the carpeted side!).  We finished the Mandan Road series late in the afternoon, and I have to say to anyone who would like to do this series, a 4X4 is not required, but be aware, it is a seasonal road and it is very rough and very hilly.

Our second day of caching took us up to the top of  Brockway Mountain and then along the Lake Superior shoreline westward towards Eagle Harbor.  There were some spectacular view of the Lake Superior along M-26.  One of our caches was named “The Devil’s Washtub”.  We couldn’t quite figure our why it was called this, until we arrived near the cache.  It was just rough enough on the Lake to make this an exciting place.

We arrived at Eagle Harbor and quickly found the cache in the area.  We noticed that the old Coast Guard Station museum was open so we looked around for a bit and then continued on.  Just after leaving the Station, my husband suddenly stopped the Jeep and quickly backed up, he had spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree right next to the road.  We both broke out our cameras and were able to snap some pics before it flew off.  How fitting to see one in a small town called Eagle Harbor!

While we were taking pics at one of the caches near a waterfall, a nice couple sat down at a picnic table and broke out the largest muffins I had ever seen!  We had been told of a wonderful bakery, The Jampot Bakery, but had yet to find it.  I asked them if those muffins were from that bakery and they promptly told us where it was.  When we arrived at the bakery, which is operated by Catholic monks, we were treated to the most amazing smells ever!  I purchased some pear butter, and jams and of course, two of those wonderful looking muffins.  I have to support the local causes right??  Anyway, they were delicious and I think I was on a sugar high all day!  We again finished our caching late in the day, went back to the cabin and relaxed for the evening.

Our final day on the Keweenaw Peninsula started out with some clearing skies.  We packed the metal detector and decided to do some copper hunting after finding our last few caches in the area.  We arrived at Clark Mine and started hunting for copper on some old tailings piles and very quickly the detector started beeping.  We dug and were surprised to actually find a small piece of copper!  We continued hunting and uncovered a few other rocks with copper running through them.  We were quite excited about this but couldn’t spend all day here in that we wanted to do some more exploring around the area.

After some driving on the back roads looking at the fall colors, we arrived in Mohawk and found the Bird’s Eye Maple Store.  It was right at their closing time, but luckily for us, there were still some customers in there, so we did have a chance to look around.  I had never heard of Bird’s Eye Maple, but some of the local eateries in Copper Harbor had tables, and even a full length bar made from it, and it is absolutely gorgeous!  I was able to purchase an engraved coaster just to remind me of how rare and beautiful this wood is.

Overall, this visit to the Keweenaw Peninsula was excellent.  We found 59 caches, seen 3 different waterfalls, found some copper pieces, and seen some beautiful views of Lake Superior.  The fall color on the peninsula was not at peak, and patchy in some areas, but what had changed, was very pretty.

Happy Caching!

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It’s amazing what purchasing a couple of issues of Backpacker magazine can do for a hiker.  It makes you want to get out there and hit the trails!  So…after purchasing the September and October issues, I immediately wanted to get out into the woods.  We’d hiked the Reid Lake area a year ago on my birthday (my celebration of Earth Day), and at that time, we were not yet cachers.  We’ve seen that there was a cache out there and since the weather has been absolutely gorgeous, we decided to combine the two activities.  I packed up some trail food and water, filled our backpacks, and off we went.

While looking at the information sheet for the Reid Lake cache, we seen that a new cache had been placed at the ‘old park and ride’ near the intersection of M65 and M72.  The cache had only been found by two other cachers and we noticed that the last people to visit it had dropped off a pathtag.  We were very excited about that since we enjoy collecting pathtags.  Currently, our collection consists of six different tags and we are always excited about the prospect of getting a new one.  We found the old park and ride easily and immediately started following the arrow on our gps.  We arrived at the coordinates with little difficulty, but couldn’t locate the cache.  We began to expand our search, thinking that maybe with the dense tree cover, the coordinates may be off.  We searched in earnest for a good 10-15 minutes, but were still coming up empty handed.  I began to tell myself that I didn’t just drive 45 minutes not to find this cache.  So I stopped and began looking around and tried to figure out what didn’t look “natural”.  Finally, I spotted something that didn’t look like mother nature put it there and sure enough, it was the cache.  I can’t mention any more about it, so as not to spoil the find for someone else, but suffice it to say, we listed it as one of our favorites when I logged in our find.  We opened the container and wouldn’t you know, no pathtag could be seen, but then…I opened the smaller container that had the log in it, and yeeha!!! the pathtag was in there!  So now, our collection is up to seven and we are very proud of them (most of them did not come easily, so they are very appreciated).

We then drove on to the Reid Lake parking area just a few miles down the road and were eager to get on the trails.  The last time we were on these trails everything looked quite a bit different.  It was April 22, 2010, none of the trees had leaves on them and some of the trails were closed due to high water from the snow melt.  We didn’t have any of that to worry about today, but it still amazed me how different the woods are when the trees are fully leafed out.   We arrived at the lake and immediately looked for the pair of loons that we had seen and heard on our previous visit, but this time, they were not there.  We continued on down the trail that circumnavigates the lake and remembered that we took pictures from an old pier that used to be on the north shore.  When we arrived at where we thought it would be, the pier was gone.  All we could see were the old pilings that were just below the water’s surface.  We couldn’t tell if it had been removed by man or my mother nature.  We again snapped a few pictures and moved on.

As we progressed around the lake our gps started to confuse us.  We thought we knew which trail the cache was on, but needless to say, we were incorrect.  After a few “turn arounds” we finally figured out which trail it was on and soon found ourselves at the stated coordinates, but again, we couldn’t seem to locate the cache.  We expanded our search, and again, I told myself that I didn’t drive and hike this far not to find this cache, so I stopped and looked around to see what didn’t “look right” and then I spotted it.  Again, I can’t elaborate because I don’t want to be a “spoiler”, but I can say that we also added this cache to our favorites list.   We logged our visit and returned to the trail and found a suitable log to sit on and eat our lunch.  After a nice break, we then continued on around the lake.  While hiking back to the parking area, we were startled by a young buck crossing the trail in front of us.  Just as quickly as we seen him, he was gone.   There are a lot of trails here and I know I will be back to do more of them, this is a beautiful place, and one of my favorites.

Our wildlife count today:  1 young buck, 1 bald eagle, 1 garter snake, numerous squirrels and chipmunks.  Another beautiful day in the woods!

Happy Caching!

 

 

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Wow!  It’s been quite a while since we’ve geocached.  It’s been extremely hot and buggy up here lately, so we decided to give the gps a break.  Plus, all the other fun stuff to do in the summer has been calling to us for quite some time!  My sister-in-law came up from Mobile, AL and we’ve recently recruited her into the geocaching world so we decided to go to the Upper Peninsula for some rock collecting from Whitefish Bay (you can find the best flat, smooth rocks, excellent for painting on) and also do some geocaching.  I am a “Yooper” at heart and every time I cross the  Mighty Mac, I sigh deeply and tell myself, “Ahh, I’m home!”  This is our first geocaching trip up here and it definitely won’t be our last!

We arrived at the bridge around 11:00 am and what a beautiful day!  Our first two caches were located in the Trout Lake area and we quickly picked them up and continued on north.  The bugs were not too bad, not as bad as I had feared.  We’ve lived in the U.P. before and are quite familiar with the vampire mosquitoes, black flies, and other large biting insects, but today was a nice surprise, we came out of the woods with as much blood as when we went in!

One of our caches took us to the Eckerman Trout Pond area, and oh what a treat!  Upon crossing the stream we found an artesian well and then continued on further into the woods to the cache.  We marveled at the sights and thought, “of all the times we’ve been in the area, we never knew this was here!”  That’s the beauty of geocaching, it takes you to places you may never have known existed or would have ever thought to go to.  After tearing ourselves away, we continued on north towards Whitefish Point.  We stopped at the Tahquamenon River Campground for a cache and found ourselves “extreme” caching before long.  The notes tell us to take an unmarked trail behind one of the campsites, and we did just that, but the trail soon disappeared and we found ourselves bushwacking through all kinds of trees and bushes, all the while, looking for any hint of a trail and trying to follow the arrow on our gps.  After is got really bad, we decided to turn back and get ourselves out of that mess, of course, nothing looks familiar so we continued to bushwack our way back out.   After a while, we found ourselves back at the campground and decide to follow a trail along the Tahquamenon River, and of course, that led us right to the area of the cache.  But wouldn’t you know, we couldn’t find it.  We searched and searched, and finally had to give up.  That was the hardest DNF we’ve ever worked for!

We then picked up a few more caches and ended our caching day at Shelldrake Lake.  It’s a very secluded lake that came into being after a small dam was built.  We walked across the top of the dam and down a nice trail and found the cache easily.  We marveled at the area, but then our hunger pains were getting the best of us so it was time to go into town and find some supper.


After supper, we decided to go up to Whitefish Point to collect some rocks.  I could spend a whole day there on the beach looking at rocks and building cairns.  Watched a Laker pass by and the sunset was gorgeous.

Awoke early the next day, anxious to get another day of caching in, and was treated to a beautiful sunrise over Whitefish Bay.  I didn’t have my camera with me and didn’t want to wake the others, so I recorded it in my mind and can still see it as if I were still sitting there.  We ate breakfast at a small local restaurant and then headed out for our first cache.  Our first couple of caches were in the Paradise and Whitefish Point area and were picked up very quickly.  We then moved inland and found ourselves at the neatest cemetery I’d ever seen.  After finding the cache, I looked down at the greenery and discovered that the little bushes were covered with wild blueberries!  Oh!  What a treat!  We all spent a good half-hour picking and eating the sweetest little berries ever!  We had to move on, but searched the vehicle for whatever we could find in case we came across more berries at another cache.

We then drove out to Vermillion Point which used to have a working lighthouse and seen numerous people out picking wild blueberries all along the seven miles of road out to the light.  We told ourselves that we must return next year prepared to do a lot of picking.  Our next cache was out at Crisp Point Light and this was a quite a drive, and in one section of it, we noticed a lot of blueberries and decided to stop on our way back to pick some to take home.  We arrived at Crisp Point Light and immediately headed up to the top of the light and what a view!  We read the history and marveled at how the preservation folks have restored the light to it’s current beautiful condition.

On our way back, we located the berry patch we had seen earlier and quickly began picking berries.  We filled up two tupperware containers fairly quickly and jumped back into the Jeep and headed back towards Paradise.  We had a five hour trip back home to do, so we decided to forgo the caches at the Tahquamenon Falls area which required some hiking.  We had an excellent time and will be coming back this fall to head up to the Keweenaw Peninsula to do some caching up there.

Our wildlife count: 3 Hawks, 1 Bald Eagle, 3 Partridges, 2 Snakes, 2 Ground Squirrels, and an unknown black and white butterfly.

Happy Caching

Sheri

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Since Robert is the Campground’s “Pool Maintenance Man”, he is required to submit a water sample to the State Health Department, which is located in Gladwin.   So I thought, why not take care of some caches while there?!  I found just one right in town, the others that were on the Cedar River Walking Path had been archived, so I expanded my search to the area between Gladwin and Pinconning, since that was to be our next stop.   When we arrived in Gladwin, it was just a few minutes after noon, (maybe we should have gotten up earlier?…) and little did we know, the Health Department is closed from noon to 1:00 pm.  So we went and located the cache that was in town, which took just a few minutes, (very unique container, and waved at Heidi) and then I thought “what are we going to do for 50 minutes?”  Since it turned out to be a pretty nice day, we decided to take a walk on the Cedar River Walking Path.  We have crossed over it numerous times on M-61, but had never stopped to experience it.  After just a short distance, Robert noticed a very large snapping turtle in the sand along the bank of the river.  We were kind of concerned, it didn’t seem real active (how active is a turtle supposed to be?…), while leaning over it to take the below picture, I was secretly asking it not to snap my toe off!

We continued on down the path, passed a trout farm in which their pond seemed to be very full of small trout swimming and splashing around, even jumping out of the water (showing off for whomever was watching at the moment).  We then came to a skate park where the trail split, since we’d been walking for about 20 minutes, we figured we’d better head back, but decided that we needed to come back and see where the trail finally ends up.

We completed our business and headed on out of town towards the next two caches.   Upon arriving near GZ, we immediately noticed the very large ditch that was still full of water.  Being the vertically challenged person that I am, I knew I would not be able to jump the ditch and not get wet, so Robert said he would go get this one.  He indeed jumped the ditch and headed off  through waist high ferns.  He had a bright yellow shirt on, so I could keep an eye on him from the edge of the road.  He then came back a few minutes later with a bit of swag (trinket from the cache).  This time, the launching area to jump the ditch was quite a bit smaller, and unfortunately, he did get a bit wet, but not too bad.

The next cache was just a short distance down the road, and in this location, the ditch was even wider than the previous location.  We located the cache owners driveway and was able to walk the edge of the ditch to near GZ.  We then went deeper into the woods and wouldn’t you know, we woke up every mosquito in the area!  And oh, were they hungry.  We had a bit of a hard time locating the cache, and as I was decoding the hint, (and trying to swat every part of my exposed arms), we figured out the hint and began looking anew.  We then located the cache pretty quickly.  We signed the log and almost ran out of the woods with clouds of mosquitoes following us.  Needless to say, we’ve been rethinking our caching sites for maybe some more “urban” areas!

Our wildlife sightings for the day:  snapping turtle, rainbow trout, large mouth bass, and kingfisher.

Happy Caching,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

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