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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pumped Storage Project Walk


I just had to go somewhere other than my backyard today. As much as I love "my kingdom," variety is good. We are watching the gas mileage pretty carefully, but this isn't far away. It's the Ludington Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project lands. It's one of the largest such generation projects in the world, built 1969-73. It is located on a 1000-acre site which supports recreation as well as creating electricity.

Just so you know what you are looking at, the picture below is looking up from the trailhead to the observation deck on the edge of the storage reservoir. You can't go up there in winter. The whole reservoir is fenced and in winter the gate is closed.

From the same location, when I turn around, this is what I see. In the far distance the blue is Lake Michigan, 400 feet lower than the reservoir. You can see that there is a disc golf course cage. There are three courses on the property and it's really popular in the summer. I was VERY pleased to see that there had been hikers and snowshoers using the trails. Sometimes it seems to me that local people don't appreciate the many opportunities we have here.

One thing that makes this hike so much fun is that it's one of the few hilly trails we have here. The path goes over about five of these ridges. You can see Maggie thinking about the next one here.

After we walked to the adjacent road and came back we took a side trip in the other direction. This leads one to a bridge over the lakeshore road. Maggie doesn't like the bridge. It has a metal floor with holes. It's not a mesh that hurts her feet, but I always have to leash her to get her to cross it.

Across the bridge is a vista where you can see more of the generation plant. Most of it is underground. There are huge pipes called penstocks that connect the reservoir to Lake Michigan. At the bottom of the penstocks are turbines. When the demand for electricity is low at night pumps carry water up to the reservoir. During the day the water flows down by gravity, turning the turbines, and generating 1,800 megawatts of electricity. Notice that beyond the melted area at the base of the plant there is ice again, and then farther out you can see where the open water starts again.

We had a great walk! It was right about at freezing. The snow was soft. I thought it might stick to the snowshoes too much, and it was borderline, but ok. Maggie wasn't sinking in so much that she was unhappy (I walked her to town the day after our last snow and it was very hard for her. I felt bad.)

I have more pictures of tracks and closeups for a couple more days. I don't know how active I'll be- tomorrow at least, because I will have that tooth taken out. Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but it should make things better in the long run.

If you want to see more about these trails, go to Mason County Campground at Get Off The Couch.

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Rick (Ratty) said...

A change of scenery is sometimes necessary. I spent my whole weekend looking for new places to go. It was great! That area with the hills looks like a great place to hike, and I love seeing the lakes. I only usually get to see the Detroit River, but I haven't even seen that in a while.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

It's a real joy to me to be near the "big lake" as we call it. I grew up near some other pretty big lakes, so it just wouldn't seem right without water nearby. Hope you find some new places to adventure!