Sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

"Old" Trail Section, New Season

  Loren and I met up this morning to look at a section of trail where the Eco-Seeds volunteer crew had done some work a couple of weeks ago. One of the things they did was to replace the supports on this small bridge. You can see the new lumber. small trail bridge

They also installed some steps on a couple of steeper slopes. It's always good to have some enthusiastic younger muscles to work on some of the construction projects. trail steps

The white birch are just beginning to get leaves. white birch against a blue sky

This piece of trail follows the south shore of the Manistee River for a short distance. It's certainly wonderful to see the trees greening up! Manistee River

But the big surprise was the wildflowers. I've mentioned before that most of our chapter's trail is in dry sandy hills. There aren't a lot of wildflowers in those areas. But here, down along the river, and climbing to the top of the bluff, there were lots! I'll have to remember this. It was quite interesting that there was still some bloodroot in bloom. It's mostly done by now. bloodroot

Lots of toothwort, but the sun hadn't really hit the flowers yet for the day, so they were closed up and a little droopy. The flowers don't open flat, but a little more than this. toothwort

Miterwort was a welcome sight. It really likes damp places. It was growing at the base of a tree. The roots probably create a little cup of moisture.

And there were quite a few trilliums, too. Also saw trout lily, and woodland horsetail. trilliums

I liked this one- it's just a Solomon's seal opening its leaves, but the curls are so perfect! solomon's seal leaves

I had to take a new picture of the pups. They've had haircuts, and you'd hardly know they were the same dogs. I don't think I've ever seen Corky (the white one) shaved. two small dogs

Anyway, it was only 4 miles, but it was a great hike- learning new things about a familiar section. We put out some new stickers on posts too.

North Country Trail miles in 2021 is at 280.

In other news: Did shopping and errands, and I'm getting ready to leave in the morning for more errands in Grand Rapids and then a vendor event on Saturday. I hope to squeeze in a little hike tomorrow. We'll see.

North Country Trail, Manistee County, MI, Highbridge to Chicago Avenue and back. 4 miles

See More NCT Hike Fun

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

What a Great Day!

  I worked hard in the morning, and then headed out for an afternoon on the trail. The North Country Trail, of course. Can a shadow look happy? I think this one does. shadow of a hiker

Almost immediately there was this lovely treat growing right beside the trail. Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. The brach is arranged so gracefully. flowering dogwood branch

The flowers aren't all the way open yet. I haven't ever caught pictures of it at quite this stage. flowering dogwood blossom opening

My next call to adventure was this interesting map. I haven't yet explored this world. OK... it's just a cut birch tree. But doesn't it look like a map of some ancient land with a sheltered bay and two small pointed hills? pattern in a cut log

There were four creeks I crossed. This is Bear Creek. Bear Creek

And Tank Creek. I actually camped over beyond the upper left corner in 2016 when I did a short backpacking trip here. Tank Creek

Speaking of backpacking, I met one fellow, Loren, who is hiking the whole Lower Peninsula. It's so very, very cool to find that there are more than a handful of people who are doing longer hikes on the NCT now. hiker

I walked until I reached the mileage I wanted, and took a short rest on this log. And look! The sloth hiking team has been there. (You know, the ones who say, "We will get there when we get there.") sloth face in a cut log

Mostly just came directly home, but I did take one little mile of new back road. Talk about a dream day! The temperature was just warm enough for no long sleeves, but not too hot. Things are really getting green. The sunshine made the water blue. Pretty darn wonderful! dirt road with spring trees

I walked 10 miles, collecting info for the data book. Just 5 more Newaygo County miles to go (so 10 to hike them out and back). Total North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 276.

In other news: I edited in the morning. I'm a little tired tonight- I didn't get to sleep until about 2 am, so I'll probably fall asleep early.

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, MI. Oak Savannah to north of Tank Creek and back. 10 miles total

See So Wrong About the Dogwood
See another sloth face

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

More Spring

  This seems to be an amazingly colorful spring. Maybe it's just lasting longer because the weather has stayed cool, holding the leaves in bud longer.

Cathy and I took a walk today at Scottville Riverside Park. We weren't trying for any big distance- actually we were trying to follow the cross-country race course that winds through the park. This picture is just along one of the old berms from the treatment ponds. I like the line of white-barked aspens on the left. spring sky with aspens

This ornamental crabapple sure is pretty. pink crabapple blossoms

There is a backlog of spring pictures from earlier in the week. Along the trail, I ran into a few small goldthread, Coptis trifolia. Although it grows in almost every county in Michigan, it's a little surprising to see it along the trail in the Manistee NF, because it likes damper conditions than most of the dry sandy ground along the trail. This isn't a great specimen; it usually grows in thick patches, often mixed with moss. The leaves to the right of the flower, and dead center, bottom are the ones for this plant. Interestingly enough, the white is not the petals, but the sepals. The actual petals are the yellow. It gets its name because it has fine, thread-like roots that are bright yellow. goldthread

Finally, I love sassafras in the spring. OK, I love it in any season. If you are driving along and see bright yellow-green buds reaching for the sunlight on up-curving twigs, it's probably sassafras. sassafras trees

The flower buds are just beginning to open. sassafras buds

In other news: I edited in the morning. Walked in the afternoon and remembered to go to bell choir practice. Plan to work on the Newaygo County Data Book some more this evening.

Scottville Riverside Park, Scottville, MI. Cross Country course and more. 3.7 miles

See Sassafras!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Blazing and Botany

  Went back out to the trail today and only got another half-mile, in only one direction, blazed. Seems slow. Oh well, it takes however long it takes to do it right. Here's a new blaze, and I was going to show you that you can just see the next one from this point. But the picture is too small! trail blazes

You'll have to trust me that you can see it when you are out there. I marked it for you. When I zoomed the picture enough, I could see it. trail blazes

I took quite a few pictures of plants, but a lot of them are not in focus. I'll have to try again. I got a few. This is downy yellow violet, Viola pubescens. It has tiny soft hairs and stipules, neither of which you can see in this picture. downy yellow violet

And growing with it was long-spurred violet, Viola rostrata. This one is fun, because I don't see it too often. Will try to get better pictures of the key features. But one is that none of the petals have a "beard." I blew the picture way up, and all these petals are smooth.
long-spurred violet

There are lots of bedstraws. They are pretty easy to identify as a group because they have whorls of leaves growing around a long stalk. This one is fragrant bedstraw, Galium triflorum. Generally this one has 6 leaves in a whorl, but the key thing is that they creep along the ground and they are soft to the touch. Several others are rough. I saw another interesting one, but didn't take its picture. Tried to spot it walking back but didn't see it. Hopefully, I'll find it another day. fragrant bedstraw

In other news: I edited in the morning, and I hope to work on the Newaygo County Data Book some more this evening.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, 5 Mile road out and back doing trail work- 3 miles total

North Country Trail miles so far in 2021 is at 266.

See Yesterday and Today

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Yesterday and Today

  As promised, here are a few more pictures from yesterday's hiking. This is Bear Creek, north of Pierce Dr. bear creek

The sun showed up in the late afternoon, making every little wetland spectactular wetland with cloud reflections

A bit gruesome, but interesting- a contorted deer skeleton in the creek that is still holding together. It looks as if it belongs in some sort of fantasy game. deer skeleton

Just one more picture of a happy hiker, Denali. She's miles beyond here now. hiker

Today, I did some trail work. On one section of our trail, someone had taken dark blue spray paint and just made huge blobby messes on way too many trees. dark blue spray paint on a tree

Andrea went with me, and we started scraping those off and painting new, correct blazes. We only got about a half mile done, but we'll be back. This is the section that was such a mess last winter. painting a blue trail blaze on a tree

In other news: I did editing, and worked on the Newaygo County Data Book.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, 5 Mile Road north and back doing trail work, about 2 miles

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 263.

See Hiking with Denali
See The Joke's On Us

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Hiking with Denali

  I worked really hard all week so I could play all day today without feeling guilty. And that's just what I did!

Denali and I headed south on the North Country Trail. We worked it out so she could "slack-pack." That means she did not have to carry her full backpack for most of the day. hiker on a bridge

This is a particularly attractive group of Gaywings, aka Fringed Polygala. gaywings

I don't want to tell you exactly where she is, but you've seen this tree before. However, please notice (fresh wood chips) that the beavers are actively working on taking it down. They are just obsessed with this big tree! tree chewed by beaver

We ate lunch with a nice view. Not quite enough sun yet to color the water, but it did get nicer in the afternoon. Highbanks Lake

Wild strawberries in bloom already. Spring is on a mission now. wild strawberry blossoms

I love how the understory is greening up- this is mostly Vaccinium pallidum, hillside blueberry, beneath the red pines. It's so wonderful to have a colorful world again! Especially one with a blue blaze on a tree. wild strawberry blossoms

And finally, we had to say farewell for this trip. You can conclude from our head coverings that the air remained chilly, but it was a nice temperature for hiking. She shouldered her full pack and hiked on. hikers

We'll definitely be staying in touch. We have a lot in common and really hit it off. We both had a blast. I loved being able to help another hiker- so many people helped me.

So at 6 miles, I turned around and hiked back to my car. Then I drove her pack around to the last road crossing before she was going to stop for the night. And I walked out to meet her and back to the car again. I walked a total of 15 miles, and I'm not the least bit stiff or sore! Yippie!

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, MI. 96th St south past Highbanks Lake and back. Then north from Pierce Drive 1.5 miles and back

Tomorrow, I'll probably show you more from today- there are some pretty pictures from after the sun came out. I even did a favorite thing coming home- just followed my nose on back roads. I may have seen a couple of new ones. Definitely some I haven't been on often.

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 261.

See Dinner with Denali
See Not Seen for Five Years

Friday, May 7, 2021

Dinner with Denali

  Today, I picked up Denali again, and am keeping her overnight. You know that people who hike 15-20 miles a day can eat! We made it a point to eat good stuff.

But first, I did walk a little way out to meet her on the trail. Although the day started cold, it was quite nice by afternoon. sunny sky

This little not-quite-a-creek was flowing. I think it only has water in the spring. stream

And a bouquet of violets streamside. violets

Anyway... she did all the hiker clean-up stuff, and we fixed... #1 Baked macaroni and cheese macaroni and cheese

#2 Fresh, local asparagus. The harvesting has just begun. asparagus

Followed by rhubarb cobbler. rhubarb cobbler

And then, there is the re-checking of the maps and making a plan for the next set of miles. hiker looking at maps

I'm going to hike with her tomorrow for about half the day.

In other news: I did editing and errands this morning, so I could go get Denali again. We've been talking more trail stuff!

See A Day with Denali
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin