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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Watching for Spring

  This gnarly tree-gnome is watching to see if spring is happening. Looks skeptical. face in a tree

The quaking aspen tree is surely trying to act spring-like.
aspen tree with catkins


Catkins on it are fully fluffy and about to start spreading pollen. Quaking aspen is dioecious, which means there are separate male and female trees. So this one is male. That said, aspen seeds rarely result in new trees. Aspens most commonly sprout from vast root systems. When you see a clump of aspen, it's likely actually all one plant with a shared root. The largest and oldest is called the Pando Clone in Utah. 100 acres in size, it is all one organism and is estimated to be 80,000 years old. aspen catkins

Here's a tiny bit of good news related to a not-quality event I haven't shared (because it did not make me happy). For some reason, the road commission took out 4 big trees along a road on my common road loop. I don't know why- they weren't dead or obstructing sight lines on a corner. Anyway, they cut them, ripped out the roots, and backfilled the holes. What I'm sure they neither knew nor cared about was that there were daffodils that grew beneath those trees in spring. Ha! Bulbs are tough. There are quite a few of them in bud, and one has already managed to bloom. Hooray for the tenacity of flowers! daffodil

The moss is getting sexy too! Spore production on its way. moss with sporangia

And I suspect the red-tail hawk has a better view of the arrival of spring since s/he is more mobile than the tree-gnome. Love my hawks! red tail hawk

In other news: I worked on a volunteer project all day. ALL DAY. Then I took a 5-mile walk because I was feeling so antsy. Yesterday, shirtsleeves. Today, 37 degrees and winter clothes. Tonight, a dustng of snow on the ground!

See Anything But Brown

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pentwater Pathway with Cathy

  Cathy didn't work today- she is semi-retired now, and we went to the Pentwater Pathway and did the loops in such a way that our miles added up to 7.7.

The terrain is similar throughout the forest where it's located, and things are still brown and gray. That means pictures tend to look mostly like this. But since it's a series of ski loops there are some decent hills. Pentwater Pathway

Here's a large black oak.
black oak
We stopped on Long Bridge on the way home. It was super windy locally for almost 24 hours. It's finally calmed down now, but you can see how windblown we were out there in the open. It wasn't bad at all in the woods, though. friends

Here's the view down the lake, toward the village of Pentwater. Similar view in the link below about kayaking. Pentwater Lake

The temperature made it into the 50s, the sky was clear, and the water blue. I love the blue and tan of the old cattails. (not snow in the background but sandbags- big problems here with high water last year) Pentwater Lake

A lone mute swan was hunting for lunch. mute swan

Nice hike, nice day.

Pentwater Pathway, Pentwater, Michigan. Various loops for a total of 7.7 miles

In other news: I came home and got cleaned up and did a few odds and ends. Since the wind was trying to remove the tarp from my trailer, it's now officially removed for the season.

See Pentwater Pathway Hike
See Kayaks Loaded, Kayaks Launched

Monday, March 29, 2021

Nichols Lake in the Morning

  This morning, I dragged myself out of bed early and helped spot a hiker on the North Country Trail. We met at the north end of Nichols Lake, in Newaygo County. I've been here before, but more often at the south end, so it was a nice change of scenery. Nichols Lake

Just another view more to the east. Blue is a good start to any day. Nichols Lake

The day did warm up to the 50s, but it certainly didn't start out that way. I liked the ice on these common mullein leaves. ice on mullein leaves

Delivered the hiker to where he wanted to go, and came home. (Well, of course there were complications, but eventually he was delivered!)

In other news: I painted for almost 4 hours and did some editing.

See Common Mullein

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Robin in the Snow

  Today was the first day I've seen a robin at my latitude. However, it was not a spring-like day. There were strong winds blowing stinging, sleety snow sideways. Nevertheless, I bundled up and took a little 3-mile walk just to get the kinks out. robin

I guess today was a day of rest. I listened to my playlist of Palm Sunday music, watched a movie, and read part of a book. Back "in the saddle" tomorrow.

See Robins in Progress

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Bailiwick- Chipmunk to Counselor

  Tonight we'll go back to Girl Scout Camp Bailiwick. To be specific, at the time I was involved, this was the camp associated with Brownies- younger girl scouts.

You know that I love and collect embroidered patches. I have these. I suspect I was able to purchase them at the camp store at Comstock. I don't know how I got those year rockers. Those are definitely from my Bailiwick years. Perhaps the patches were discontinued. Perhaps my mother got these patches. Read on for why I think that is possible.

The central patch is for our Girl Scout Council. This no longer exists. Councils have been expanded and rearranged as Scouting waned in popularity and communications and travel became easier. Anyway... I won't moan about all that. I will tell you that Tiotomca is a made-up word representing the three counties in the council. Tioga, Tompkins, and Seneca. Not all of Seneca county was in this council. The important thing to remember is that my village, Interlaken, was the northernmost community in the council. That will come into the narrative several posts later. Camp Comstock embroidered patches

So, Bailiwick was strictly a day camp. Brownies were not considered old enough to have overnight camping. And I managed to be a participant at Bailiwick from the age of 4. You ask, "How on earth did you manage that?" Most people know that pre-schoolers aren't Brownies. Back then, there weren't Daisy Scouts (Kindergarten and 1st Grade), but even now, not preschoolers. However, my mother worked as a counselor at the camp for a few summers. There was a "Unit" called the Chipmunks that was actually just daycare for children of counselors. So there you go... I was a Chipmunk. Since Mom was a counselor, perhaps she came into posession of these patches. I sure wish I could find more of those year rockers that go with it. But, without the central patch, even if someone had some, they wouldn't even know what they went with.

And then I was a Brownie, and was attending day camp sessions at Bailiwick. I have no pictures at all from the Bailiwick years. I did not have a camera, and I guess Mom didn't take any pictures.

Here's a little tidbit of info. Just uphill from the lodge was a campfire area, and that's where the Chipmunk Unit was located. I suppose it was there because of the ease of dropping off and picking up the little kids.

Remember, this camp is on a very steep hill that descends to the lake. The regular Units march down that hill. The older the campers, the farther down the hill they had to walk. There is no road to the lake on the Bailiwick side. The latrines were at the top of the hill near the lodge.

There was a waterfront at the lake with a changing building and a "buddy board." We did have swimming, and there were strict rules. Everyone was issued a numbered tag from the board. Each tag had a big safety pin. We pinned these to our suits, and we chose a buddy for each swim session. If a signal was given (I think maybe two blasts on a whistle) we had to stop whatever we were doing, find our buddy, grab her hand and hold our clasped hands high. This was a fast way for the counselors to check on the swimmers- to be sure no one was missing. I guess in theory, a set of buddies could go missing until the numbers were returned to the board at the end, but the probability of that happening is low.

I no longer remember if Bailiwick sessions were one or two weeks. But I know I was a Chipmunk or a camper there every summer from 1952 until 1957. We had age-appropriate activities, did crafts, played games, learned woods-craft, had campfires, learned campfire cooking, etc. It seemed as if the walk down to the lake was miles long, and even longer coming back uphill. Little-girl campers rarely went in that beautiful lodge (pic at link below). It was a magical place reserved for counselors and other grownups! I remember that I did get to go inside it once as a Brownie and it seemed huge!

Fast-forward to 1966. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and what could be more logical than to return to Bailiwick as a counselor? Of course, that's what I did. For two summers, 1966 and 1967. I became familiar with the inside of the lodge. I spent a fair amount of time scrubbing that latrine building with Clorox water. I herded groups of noisy, energetic little girls.

A pavilion- just a concrete slab with a roof- had been constructed uphill of the lodge where the girls could gather while waiting for the transportation buses. It was also a space large enough to protect all the campers when it rained. There were no buildings at the units.

Some small number of you might have heard me say of my singing voice that "it's best use is for camp songs." Well, somehow, I got the reputation as a counselor for being the one who could lead songs. Probably part of that was due to the fact that I could remember all the words to all the verses of some very very long songs. These are of paramount importance when there is a scary thunderstorm, or the buses ran late. I could keep a hundred little girls singing for an hour or more. I got reasonably good at bringing in the various groups to do songs as rounds. Anyway, I remember a lot more about leading songs until we were all totally hoarse than I do about planning campfire stew or teaching knots!

There is just one more piece to the Bailiwick saga. I guess I should end with another C word- Consultant. That steep hillside with hundreds of girls descending and climbing the pathway for 60 years had led to some serious erosion problems. For a college class in Ecology, I wrote a report about that with suggested ways to fix the problems and restore the vegetation. A copy was sent to the Council, but I don't know if they ever took it to heart.

Actually, there is one tiny but important Bailiwick story that I will save until the very end of this series. It's not a very happy ending, but it is what it is.

In other news: I did a bunch of boring paperwork and more house cleaning. Ho hum.

See Comstock and Bailiwick- Setting the Stage

Friday, March 26, 2021

Yum Yum

  This is one of my tried and true recipes to use up sour milk. You've seen them before. This time I made them whole wheat. As soon as the pan cools a tiny bit, I'll be indulging myself. Hopefully not to exceeding excess. ppan rolls

The only problem is that I had the kitchen ALL. CLEANED. UP. Now... it's not. Again. But I really tried hard not to spill new stuff on the floor.

Guess I'll tell a story on myself. I try really hard to be efficient with car trips. Did my errands and went to the house where I'm painting. I had forgotten the key. Sigh. Had to drive all the way home to get it. Definitely not efficient. It's a good reminder that there are going to be those kinds of days when the brain just doesn't get all the circuits hooked up right. No matter how perfect or wonderful or famous anyone is. There are going to be the days of stupid mistakes. Just take a deep breath, solve the problem, and get on with life.

In other news: I did errands and grocery shopping. You know how much I like that. Painted for four hours.

See Truck Picnic

Thursday, March 25, 2021

To the Newaygo County Oak Savanna

  A group of four of us hiked again today on the North Country Trail in Newaygo County. This is a bit north of what I hiked on Tuesday. The weather was chillier, but comfy for hiking. The sky stayed gray, but it didn't rain. It was nice to see hiker friends. hikers in woods

We began at 6 Mile Rd (in Newaygo County), and walked north. Almost immeiately we found leaves of Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens). This is a fairly common, but attractive wild orchid. It will bloom in July. Rattlesnake plantain leaves

We passed beside some small wetlands. These were shallow and quite scummy, but I managed to find some attractive aspen trees with white bark across the water. aspen trees by wetland

This wetland wasn't a place you'd even want to filter water, but there were some nice colors. I'm sure last spring's very high water levels are responsible for the dying trees at the edges. However, the yellowed and brown pine needles lend some color for a picture. Just a small band of remaining ice on the far bank. wetland with dying trees

I thought this hike was going to take us through a rather unique place, but I wasn't positive of exactly where it was. However, I was correct. There is an area here, with about a mile of trail, where the Forest Service has partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Michigan DNR to restore an area of Oak Savanna. It's an oddly open and rolling area of grasses within the forest. oak savanna

Interestingly, the scrub oaks have sprouted from old stumps a lot since the last time I was here. You can see some pictures of it in 2016 at the second link below. I'm not sure if they will do a controlled burn to make sure it remains open, or perhaps something else.

There are several old kettle holes in this section that no longer hold enough water to be lakes, but they are still just wet enough to grow leatherleaf. That's the reddish shrub down in the low area. leatherleaf wetland

I loved the bands of color, texture, and vegetation at the edge. stripes of grass and shrubs

We took a break for our snack, walked to the four-mile point and turned around. Total walked: 8 miles. hikers taking a break

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 146.

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, MI. 6 Mile Rd north for 4 miles and back

In other news: The 8 miles felt fine! Not sore or stiff at all. When I got home I spent the rest of the day working on the data book for this county.

See Croton to Coolbough
See Backpacking Day 2

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Croton Dam Revisited

  There is something about this historic dam that is really appealing. Yesterday, I learned a bit more about the actual history of Croton Dam. It began producing electricity in 1907, and it was the first hyrdo-power facility in the world to supply transmission lines of 110,000 volts. It became an international attraction. It's now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Croton Dam

It's located on the Muskegon River. The impounded water is simply called Croton Pond, or Croton Dam Pond (similar to the name of Hodenpyl Dam Pond which pops into my blog fairly often). It was named for the Village of Croton, which is just a mile east of the dam. However, part of the original village was flooded when the dam began operating. The name, Croton, was taken from a river, village, and dam in New York state, on the Hudson, but I could not quickly find where the word itself comes from.

This picture was on one of their display boards- a nice aerial view of the pond above the dam, and a bit of the river, below. Croton Dam Pond

It's now operated by Consumers Energy, and produces 8,850 kilowatts of electricity. During regular operation, one person can run the entire system!

Here's a picture of the east side of the dam structure. I'd never been in this location- to see this view before. Croton Dam

Here's another bombshell bit of knowledge. The first public demonstration of the generation of electricity in the US by water power happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, not far from here! That was in 1880. We all know how quickly that technology caught on. Dams sprang up all over, and this one was first operated by the same company as the Grand Rapids hydro power plant.

This picture was also on one of the interpretive panels. This is the dam still under construction. You can see the bays for the four turbines, and in the first picture you can just see the curved tops of those same structures. construction of Croton Dam

One of the great things about these impoundments owned by Consumers Energy is that they are committed to providing recreational opportunities along the waterfronts. There are campgrounds, fishing locations, boat launches, etc, and trails other than the North Country Trail. I hope to check out some of those, one of these days. I did hike part of a short one at Hardy Dam (just upstream) a few years ago. There is even a trail that connects the two properties, and a 47-mile loop trail is being built around Hardy Dam Pond. Some portions are already open.

I got one picture of the impoundment. The dam is just out of the frame on the left side. You can see the green historical monument, and the side picture was taken just below that. Croton Dam Pond

So that's our history lesson for the day, boys and girls!

In other news: It's all other news. I worked really, really hard to get some serious house-straightening done, and to finish the current portion of the editing project I've been working on. Missions accomplished! Well, the house is never going to be all clean, but I did a whole lot. Now I get to watch a DVD or read.

See A Little Hike, a Little History

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Croton to Coolbough and a Squirt

  I totally played hookey today. I wasn't letting the fantastic weather go to waste. You may recall that I'm working on a data book project for the North Country Trail in the Lower Peninsula. Today, I started Newaygo County. The southernmot part is still on roads. So all I had to do for those is drive them and make notes of any particular features (like check creeks for water access), convenience stores, etc.

There was one tiny piece about a quarter mile long that eliminates a half mile of road, so I walked that. Nice hardwood forest over a little ridge. Very pretty. trail in hardwood forest

Then I continued driving the roads to Croton Dam. I've featured it before, and will show you some more later this week. Today, I only stopped to take some pictures and eat my lunch. Then I drove to the next road crossing because I had already made notes on the first three miles of trail (south end of the Manistee National Forest, from the Dam to Croton Rd). So, I entered the woods at the Croton Road/Pear Rd corner. trail through white pines The section I hiked today alternated between mixed forest and open areas like this one. Although the forecast said it was going to be cloudy, you can see that was not true part of the day. 70+ degrees! trail through open area with blue sky

The young white pine are, of course, lovely, but there were some venerable grandfather pines along the way. The trail goes along this row of them.
old white pines


I think this one is the size winner for today!
old white pine


I loved the colors of moss and lichen and bark at the base of it. white pine bark with moss and lichens

This is a group of red pines still standing at the edge of an area that had previously been clearcut. They are vulnerable to winds, but haven't toppled yet. Somehow, I found this arrangement appealing. tall red pines

I walked 5.3 miles to a trail junction in the Coolbough Natural Area, had a snack and returned. With the other little piece, that's a total of 11.1 miles.

Both Sunday and today I saw mourning cloak butterflies, and some smaller orange one today too. Spring is coming!

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 138.

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, Pear Rd to Locust and back, 0.5 miles. Croton Road to Coolbough Natural Area Prairie Trail and back, 10.6 miles

In other news: There is no other news. I'm beat, but it was a great day!

See A Little Hike, a Little History

Monday, March 22, 2021

Not Seen for Five Years

  OK, it's only four and a half, technically, but it was 2016 the last time I walked these miles of the North Country Trail. It was October on that little backpacking excursion. Things look much different in March! I really wanted to see some piece of trail that I haven't visited so recently. This filled the requirement.

The theme of the hike was water features.

I took this hike yesterday afternnon, but am sharing it today because I wanted to post about bell choir yesterday. I suspect this beautiful wetland is barely wet in the fall. The reddish shrubs are leatherleaf, which will tolerate standing water but not all year round. This is right on the line between Lake and Newaygo Counties. (The road is not exactly on the county line, so there is a tiny bit of trail at the north end of this hike that is actually Lake County.) wetland

A little farther south, we have a freshwater marsh with a different color palette. This one probably has open water all year. The reeds and hummocky grasses suggest that. wetland

The trail actually snakes through a very large area of wetlands. I'm sure this one has open water year round. Two reasons- the standing dead trees... wetland

and evidence that it gets continual help in maintaining the water level from the beavers. Gotta say, though, that when the beavers do fell this tree, I doubt they are going to be able to move it very far unless the water gets a lot higher! tree chewed by beaver

The banks of Cedar Creek are still all brown, except for a slight flush of red on the red-osier dogwood. On the hike linked below, I stopped here to filter water. Cedar Creek

Next up in the gallery of wetlands is a bottomland hardwood swamp, much maligned in literature as spooky places. I just think they are beautiful. wetland

And my destination: Highbank Lake. There is a campground about a half mile off trail, but I did not go there. I ate a snack and turned around. Highbank Lake

This made my total hike 10 miles, which was plenty for not getting started hiking until after 1 pm. No problem with time, though. I made it back to the car before 5. The temperature hovered above 60- I hiked in shirtsleeves. Obviously the sun and sky were delivering blue water. It was quite awesome. Living the dream!

North Coutry Trail miles for 2021 is at 127.

North Country Trail, Newaygo County, MI, 96th St to Highbank Lake and back. 10 miles total

In other news: It's all other news today, since this was yesterday! I painted for 4.5 hours, did a 4-mile road walk with Cathy, and now I'm doing editing. Oh, also took books to the PO to mail.

See 2016 Short Backpacking Trip
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