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Friday, July 2, 2010
Massaging the Plan- June 17
This entire hike was a series of day hikes. It might have been possible to backpack parts of it if I'd had more time to plan, but the buzzword of this summer has been "rushed." To make it worse, Om and I had a communication snafu about when I had to do the paper route. Marie and I found that the terrain was easy and the trail well marked so we decided to hike more miles per day. This would allow me to return home with a day to get my head back into real world space.
Our campsite for the first few days was Graves Campground in the Mackinac State Forest. When we basecamp like this we take a larger tent, and create a covered cooking/eating area.
With our mileage goals increased to 15-17 per day, and some days promising to really heat up (I don't like heat), we tried hard to get up early. That way we could have most of the miles done before the temperature rose too high. AND, on this day, we did not get wet, from the sky anyway. Of course, walking through the wet ferns had us soaked to the thighs in the first ten minutes. But we did end the day dry.
We walked from MI-32 to Thumb Lake Road, which is about five miles east of Boyne Falls. For anyone familiar with Michigan place names, Boyne = skiing. Yes, there are quite a few ridges of hills in northern lower Michigan. However, the trail either threads valleys, or has been constructed well, to work its way over the ridges without steep climbs.
Within 5 minutes of starting for the day, Marie spotted this fern. It's not truly rare, but it isn't one you see very often. It's called Rattlesnake Fern, Botrychium virginianum, because the fertile frond looks a little bit like a rattlesnake rattle.
In just a few more minutes we began to find this plant with these amazingly red seed pods. Based on the leaves and growth I thought it was some kind of amaranth, and I was right! It's called Strawberry-Blite, Chenopodium capitatum. First those balls are green flowers and then they ripen into the these bright red seeds. Another first sighting for me. I'm not sure where the name comes from, as they are not a blight on strawberries or any other plant!
It wasn't disappointing at all to find quite a few of these more familiar plants! There is nothing like the taste of wild strawberries. The flavor is so concentrated- they are amazing. With the dampness still held near the ground and the warm air we could always smell them before we saw them.
See who was looking at us! A nice treat near the end of the day. When mama finally sounded the alarm she ran one direction and the twins ran in another- straight toward us. They never looked back to see where their mother had gone, but eventually something reminded them that they were supposed to find cover! Then they made an instant 90-degree turn and leaped into the grass beside the road. We assume that mama found them without any trouble.
We ate that night at the Railside Bar and Grill in Elmira. They offered a number of Polish dishes. We didn't try those, but had a burger with Granny Smith apples and bleu cheese, and a chicken salad which were truly yummy. The side was fresh made fries from local potatoes. I don't eat fries very often, but I couldn't resist those! They also do fresh potato chips.