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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Back to Midland to Mackinac - Day 4

  This should have been a message right here. This person must have hiked yesterday, because there was serious rain on Tuesday which would have obliterated any footprints. You will notice this person did an out-and-back hike. footprints

My goal today was to hike from Grim Road to Guernsey Creek, hopefully cross it on a new bridge built by the Scouts, and reach Guernsey Creek Road.

A lot of the path was on two-track roads so I was concentrating on the plants. Here's a super-nifty one. This is a sedge. I know that most people don't care about sedges, but I love them, and this is a bit of a surprise. If I've IDed it coreectly it's Carex Michauxiana. It has the highest Coefficient of Conservatism-: 10. And... It hasn't been found anywhere near the county where I was today. So, I'll be checking with Tony Resnicek to see if I've got it right. Carex Michauxiana

The dewberries are just blooming. It's too hard to tell them apart in the field without books, so I won't try to tell you which species. dewberries

So, I knew it was supposed to rain for about an hour, mid-day. It rained for three solid hours. Just in case you don't get wet enough in the rain, add wading through wet ferns to finish things off. Well, I got to Guernsey Creek. First off, let me show you another nifty plant. This one isn't particularly special, but I like it. This is Common Bur-Reed, Sparganium eurycarpum. The stems are hollow and triangular. common bur reed

And the flowers are spiky balls on a zig-zag stalk. Just fun- like a plant with a sense of humor. common bur reed

Well, now I'm standing at the edge of the creek. Of course, I've walked an extra mile because there was no turn blaze for where to leave the 2-track. It's pouring. I'm in waist-deep weeds. Here's the creek. I'm in the right place. There's a blue blaze on the stump over there, and one on the next tree too. See a bridge? Guernsey Creek

The answer is "yes," however, it's not what you think. The Scouts actually built two bridges. The first one was a large log with the top flattened and a hand rail added. But that got swept sideways during a high-water event. The second one, not as fancy, apparently has now been taken completely downstream. Anyway, look hard and you can see the first one in the grass over there. Notice the cable railing, and then you'll see the end of the log. Guernsey Creek

I was only about a mile from the road I was aiming for, but I would have had to try to cross the creek, and then again coming back, so I turned around.

Now we get to the embarrassing part. There was only about a half mile of woods trail to connect a couple of those 2-tracks. The blazes were faded and hiding, but I made it through OK, and added a few pieces of flagging tape where I thought I might need it going back. On the way back, I lost the blazes twice, and I re-found them twice. That is a matching set, so we should be good, right? Nope, somehow I went back the way I had come and ended up at Walter Road which I knew pretty well by then, having already crossed it twice. It's still raining. I'm soaked and hungry, but don't want to stop and eat in the rain. I know where I am. And I know I won't get turned around on the road. So, yup, I walked around to my car. 4.3 miles around, being attacked by so many deer flies that I got out my head net. But at least it stopped raining then.

So I had a nice wet 9-mile hike.

Midland to Mackinac Trail, Gladwin County, MI, Grim Road to Guernsey Creek, and road walking. 9 miles

See Back to M2M- Day 3

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Back to Midland to Mackinac - Day 3

  It was a pretty amazing day, but I'm beat. I hiked 14 miles, but only 5 of them were actually on the Midland to Mackinac Trail. Those miles were so difficult that I chose to take a longer road walk back to my car in both the morning and afternoon. In both cases, I walked the longer road miles faster than the trail miles.

The temperature was perfect- in the 70s, and the only wildlife I didn't like was the deer flies. But I kept my hair covered with a bandana and foiled their dive bombling.

I didn't get pictures of a lot of things, but I got a nice variety. Here's a Red-spotted Purple Admiral. I also saw Fritillaries, and I another orange one that I couldn't ID on the fly (literally). Red-spotted Purple Admiral

I guess the next spotting was a Ruffed Grouse. It did not fly up, but did the pretend broken wing thing, so I suspected a nest nearby. The baby had fledged! I use the singular because I only saw one, but it flew right up beside mom. Mom landed and made a strange mewing sound. I've never heard that from a grouse before.

After that, a Woodcock flushed up right in front of me!

I loved the tamarack with the purple cones just forming. tamarck cones

This section of trail was a piece that was totally flooded two years ago, so I hadn't seen any of it. This was from Estey Road north to Guernsey Creek Road. I made it through, but it took me 2.5 hours to hike 2.8 miles. But it was wild and quiet and adventurous. I added quite a bit of blue flagging tape to help other hikers find their way with a little less trouble. Someone had been through recently enough to leave broken ferns. That helped me a few times. clearing in woods

Don't think that the road walks to return were so bad. Most were quite pleasant. This is Eastman Road. Eastman Road

After that, I decided to go back to the southern end of the piece I did on Monday. It seriously needed some additional flagging tape. I only found the trail on Monday because I'd spent a ton of time two years ago exploring all the places the trail was not. Perhaps foolishly, I decided to hike in from the next road south to see that section again. Hoo boy. It skirts a big wetland with treacherous footing, and then I had to hunt for blazes a few times. One benefit of that was finding this huge Black Oak. There are quite a few big ones in this section. The big oak also served as a landmark as I hunted for a blaze. large black oak

I went in as far as that infamous clearing and hung long streamers of blue tape that can be seen from each exit of the trail. Then I contemplated if I wanted to hike the two trail miles back- They had taken me over an hour to hike, and I'd gotten pretty wet getting around the wetland. I decided to do the 3 mile road walk back, which was also a bit of an adventure. The first mile was on a really old woods road. I briefly thought it was going to disappear into a huge marsh, but it did curve around that. Then it came out to the "real" road on private property. So, it's probably no longer a public road. Fortunately, I didn't get yelled at. After that it was a piece of cake to get to the car.

Found this cute little Northern Water Snake in the middle of the road. Someone needs to explain to him that he likes water. Anyway, I scooted him to the edge so that he might live long enough to find some water.
Northern Water Snake

This lovely wetland with Bullhead Lilies didn't slow me down. What's a little unusual about this is that the water must have dropped after the lily pads grew. The leaves are standing quite upright instead of floating on the surface. bullhead lilies

I did get held up there for a few minutes taking a picture of the Twelve-Spot Skimmer dragonfly. twelve spot skimmer

I think I earned my dinner today! I made a new skillet meal that will last me a couple of days. dinner with noodles in a bowl

Anyway, I did 9 road miles and 5 trail miles. Tomorrow will be a little less ambitious.

Midland to Mackinac Trail- Estey to Guernsey Creek Road, and Mohawk Road to north of Rose Lane, and road returns. 14 miles

See Back to M2M - Day 2

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Back to Midland to Mackinac - Day 2

  Hi there! Did you have a nice day? I did.
yellow smiling art man

In the morning, I hiked a section of the Midland to Mackinac Trail that I did not even attempt to describe in the first iteration of the guidebook. My friend, Jerry, led me though it in 2018 because he said I'd never find it on my own, and I think he was right. However, now you can find your way through that section.

It's rough in a couple of places, but do-able. This portion that follows an old two-track was really pretty. But sometimes I was wading through ferns that were almost to my armpits, and there was a stretch of about 100 yards that I thought might be the end of the hike. But I kept climbing over downed trees and squishing through soft spots, and I did find the next blaze, and I didn't break an ankle. After that, it got better. (Oh yeah, I did miss a turn that wasn't marked and found a really old blaze that hadn't been removed, but eventually I figured that out and got back on the right track.) Midland to Mackinac Trail

As I said, this is a Boy Scout trail, and there are these nice signs at most of the major road crossings. Midland to Mackinac Trail sign

And in the woods, you'll find a mixture of blue rectangular blazes, arrows, diagonal marks, the normal DNR hiker/skier trail trapezoids, and some of these- special DNR trapezoids made for the Boy Scouts. Midland to Mackinac Trail Boy Scout marker

I will say that even though a lot of the trail is rough, there are almost always bridges at the creeks. This crosses Wheeler Drain. It's listing a bit, but it was sturdy. Midland to Mackinac Trail bridge

The portion I hiked today was all west of route MI-30, with crossings at each end. So, I'm not a complete dope. I walked back to my car on the road to complete the loop without having to fight my way through the difficult parts again. And that was fun too, because I found the yellow happy guy, and also this interesting location. This is an arm of the Tittibawassee River that obviously had much more water in the not-too-distant past. Remember when Sanford Dam failed in 2020? This is one of the areas, although far upstream, that was affected.

Jerry says the dam is being rebuilt, so perhaps all these homes will once again have waterfront properties. Right now, not so much! docks high and dry above water level

I got back to the car just before the rain started. Talk about timing! It rained all afternoon. But I had planned to spend some of the time with Connie and Jerry talking about the sections that would be best for me to re-hike. I knew I couldn't do everything on my list this week anyway, and they helped me decide which ones probably haven't been fixed yet. So now I have a plan for the rest of my time here that is likely to be productive. And we also had a chance to visit, which is nice because they are also good friends. They are really busy this week with special meetings at their church. Otherwise they'd be more involved with my trail adventurees.

I was thinking I might do a short hike in the late afternoon, but another heavy thunderstorm rolled in, so, hey. we just visited some more.

Midland to Mackinac Trail, Gladwin County, MI. West of M-30 and south of Ritchie Road. 4.2 mile loop

See Back to M2M- Day 1

Monday, June 21, 2021

Back to Midland to Mackinac- Day 1

  I've teased you about where I planned to go... now for the true story. I am on the other side of the state, rehiking parts of the Midland to Mackinac Trail. The plan is to hike the pieces that have been fixed and update the guidebook. Today, I did one short piece that I never did connect in 2018, even though I tried it from both directions. Today, I succeeded in connecting.

Let me remind you that the M2M is a trail that the DNR (which owns most of the land it traverses) does not want tools put on the treadway. This recreates a Native American route, and they want it kept primitive. What that mean is that you pretty much have to walk from blaze to blaze, stumbling most of the way. You can NOT just hike along. This short section is actually on an old road, so it was pretty smooth under the ferns. That didn't last long. Midland to Mackinac Trail

I was hiking in from the north end this time, and made it to right where I lost the trail in 2018 and spent 20 minutes looking for another blaze with no luck. But this time, I found a small piece of flagging tape. That confirmed you are supposed to push your way through a shrubby strip of wetland, and once past there I did find another and another blaze, until I came to my goal- this clearing.

This was the 2018 real problem. I was hiking from the south and came to this large opening, and could not find where the trail exited at all. I went straight across, and eventually got out to a road, but it was not correct. So today, I very carefully paid attention to where I entered the clearing from the north. Because there are still no blazes.

Then I walked all around the edge of the clearing to try to find where the trail comes in from the south- in other words, where I lost it the other time. And I did find that. This composite picture is taken from the point where you enter the clearing from the south. What I did in 2018 was folllow the yellow line as a guess. As it turns out, what you need to do is follow the blue line. Midland to Mackinac Trail

That was definitely the best find of the day. Second best, and certainly more interesting to you folks was a baby bird. Maybe a brown thrasher. I'm not sure. Not really scared of me- we just watched each other for a bit. baby bird baby bird

Made it back to the log church where I started, 2 hours and 10 minutes later. Only 3 miles of hiking. I had sort of forgotten how hard it is to hike with no treadway. Plus hunting for blazes. But I'll be able to fix this section of the guidebook. That will be my goal each day this week- not speed. log church

And where am I? I'm parked in the yard of some friends for a few days. Sunny is happy. I am happy. fiberglass trailer

I had a cozy little dinner. Interesting that it's 52 degrees, and yesterday it was almost 90. I do like this better, but it's been a few weeks since I needed a sweatshirt! camp dinner

The only other news is that I had a terrible time waking up this morning and left home way later than I had hoped, but it was fine. I hiked the piece of trail I had planned, and succeeded at my goal.

Midland to Mackinac Trail, Cedar Lake Road to past Rose Lane and back. 3 miles

See Rest and Replanning Again

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Hart Montague Rail Trail - Whitehall

  Today was the second day of the vendor event. It didn't start till 11:00 so I went early enough to take my walk before. Today I went south, toward Whitehall. Here's the appealing trail picture of the day Hart Montague Rail Trail

As you get closer to town there is more art. This is a fun one of sunflowers
sunflower art construction

Of course, a village on a lake that is connected to Lake Michigan is going to have a marina, and they are always good for a picture or two.
whitehall marina

I made it to one of the larger community gardens maintained by the garden club before I had to turn around. There is this butterfly with stained glass wings! art butterfly with stained glass wings

And the garden has lovely plantings. lilies

I'm not positive which Oenothera this is, but it's one of the evening primroses. There are a number of garden cultivars. THe flowers were almost 3" across. large evening primrose

And here's my mystery plant. At least it was a mystery, but I think I have it figured out. It's one of the Beardtongues, a Penstemon. Since most of them prefer dry prairie environments, but this one was in a wetland, that helps narrow things down. The insides of the flowers aren't particularly striped, but I think it is Foxglove Beardtongue, Penstemon digitalis.
foxglove beardtongue

In other news: It was beastly hot and humid. That took a lot out of me, but now it's cooling down and I'm finishing up getting ready to leave tomorrow. I did average sales today, but combined with yesterday, I did well!

Hart Montague Rail Trail, Muskegon Co, MI, through downtown and back 3+ miles

See Rail Trail at White Lake
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