Entries to Win Afghan

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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Round Lake in the Sun

 Huh. Even though I drive past this lake fairly often, I guess I've only shared a picture of it one other time. This was on the way home from my hike on Wednesday. It's a largish (571 acre) lake in Mason County, but it's pretty shallow at about 10 feet. It's name is Round Lake because it's very round.

It's another kettle hole lake, having no surface water running into it. An unnamed creek flows from the NW corner and is joined by the stream from Cunningham Lake (the source of the Lincoln River), and together the stream runs to the North Branch of the Lincoln River.
Round Lake Mason County MI

I worked hard today. Wrote 1000 words, did a bunch of other necessary stuff. Getting ready to leave with Loren in the morning to go to the Quiet Adventure Symposium.

See Tour De Lacs

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Where My Linguistic Interest Began

 I'm reading another book about linguistics. This one is even older than the book referenced in the link at the end. I'll tell you what I'm reading in a minute.

However, I think I can safely say that this is the book where my interest began. Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories (1902). This is the edition that I had as a child. Do you know them? They are funny make-believe tales like "How the Elephant Got His Trunk." (the crocodile kept pulling on his nose). Or "The Cat Who Walked by Himself." (how cats are always independent and don't want to be friends like other animals). This was one of my favorite books as a small child, which is interesting, because I was an extremely literal and serious child, but these stories are funny, and I did understand that.
Just So Stories

One of the stories is "How the Alphabet was Made." It's a fanciful tale of a girl named Taffy who starts to create drawings of sounds that her father makes. The thing that makes it silly is that they are making shapes that would make sounds that we use in English. But it starts with "ah," and Taffy watches her father make the ah sound and decides that his open mouth looks like a carp, so she draws a carp mouth pointing downward because they are bottom feeders. Her father suggests that she put a line across it for the carp's feeler so people would know it was a carp and not a trout or a perch. They ended up with this...
the letter A as a carp mouth

Which turned into this... A
the letter A

OK, even as a preschooler I somehow knew that this was silly because nobody who lived that long ago was speaking English and using the Roman alphabet (my mother taught me the Greek and sign language alphabets right along with English). And yet, that is approximately how the early picture languages evolved into phonetic languages.

So yesterday, through reading another fiction book, I found another linguistics book, The Story of Language, by Mario Pei, written in 1949.
The Story of Language

I probably should find something on the topic that is more recent, but it's still a lot of fun.

He talks some about the pictographic writing morphing into ideographic symbols with meanings beyond nouns. For example, in Chinese the symbols for sun and tree were combined to mean "east"- the sun rising through the trees.

Or how the Egyptian symbol for the sun, and the sun god Re, easily transformed to the phonetic character for the re sound.

He says the Phoenicians (which I knew), and the Hebrews (I did not know this) were the first to transform symbols to exclusively phonetic values. Here is the Phoenician alphabet... if you know the Greek capital letters, you will see the obvious similarity.
Phoenician alphabet

And the Hebrew (read it right to left). Aleph began as a picture of an ox, beth was a picture of a house- the Hebrew word for a house is beth. (Beth-el= house of God)
hebrew alphabet

He also says that we only hear about 50% of sounds produced by a speaker which is why context is so important. And for a more contemporary example, part of why we had so much trouble understanding each other when we all wore masks during Covid.

I edited, I wrote about 1000 words, I did some other stuff.

See A Bunny Trail to Treasure

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Seven Hot Blue Ones

 Cathy and I went out to do some North Country miles today. She's hoping to get her 100-mile patch this year. I'm telling you that mid 60s in February is hot! I was sweating in shirtsleeves. I also hoped for blue sky and thus blue water. Got my wish on our return walk. McCarthy Lake.
McCarthy Lake

On the outward walk, the skies were still rather gray, but even so, the lake had a treat for me.
McCarthy Lake

Can you spot it? Nice reflection and texture pic in there!
reflection of trees in lake

I liked how soft and green the young white pines looked. (McCarthy Creek is down the hill ahead of us)
young white pines

Today, you could see the large beaver pond that is south of McCarthy Lake. However, it just doesn't show up in pictures through the trees. See the little bit of blue and light brown (old cattails) out in the distance? It's a huge wetland, about 50 acres.
beaver pond through trees

And believe it or not, despite the many times I've walked this, I discovered another little mystery. There is a tiny creek south of the beaver pond, but it's big enough that the Chapter built a small bridge over it. It's not on the topo map. However, the NCT interactive map has just added some additional basemap options. One of them shows this, and labels it as McCarthy Creek. It make it looks as if the creek arises south of the beaver pond, flows north through the beaver pond, and then is joined by the outflow from McCarthy Lake (a kettle hole with no inflow), and then it continues northward to the Big Sable River. Here is the "unknown" creek today.
small creek

And here is the known crossing of McCarthy Creek, north of the lake. I've been thinking for a while that following this would make a fun bushwhacking adventure, and now I'll HAVE to check it out.
McCarthy Creek

I love this section of trail, and we did seven miles.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 127.7 of which 30.7 is North Country Trail. (7 NCT for Cathy)

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI. 3-Mile Rd to Centerline and back, 7 miles

See McCarthy Lake- Day 427

Monday, February 26, 2024

This is Also Trail Work

  I don't have anything really exciting to share today. I hunkered down and worked because I went hiking on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday!

Then in the evening, we had a meeting of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA Executive Committee, which I am really not on, except by invitation because I'm sort of the institutional memory. I can talk, but not vote. That's OK too.

The meeting was by Zoom.
zoom meeting

But, seriously, this kind of thing is also important to the trail. People love hikes and work days and other kinds of events. But those don't happen without this behind the scenes kind of stuff.

P.S. We are looking hard for people who would like to step into officer roles for the chapter. Every officer slot must change hands in a year. If you are local and love the North Country Trail, we'd be more than happy to begin easing you into a more official role.

I edited and wrote all day. Tomorrow, I'm going to go play again, though.

See Couldn't Stay Inside

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Back to Pentwater

 This morning, I played bells with the Pentwater Methodist handbell choir. Then, my plan was to go out and do another loop at Pentwater Pathway since I was again down that way.

There are still a few of these old DNR markers out there. (It's a state forest). For some reason, they just make me happy.
trail marker with a footprint

Remember Adventure Buddy Ellen? She introduced me to these trails, and to cross-country skiing. There is one hill that I'll never ski down again. She did talk me into it once. It wasn't even much fun to walk down it today. No trick camera angles to make it look steeper than it is. It's a direct drop off the edge of a ridge.
big hill on a trail

Steve, the bell choir director, and Keith, a member of the choir, wanted to hike too. So the three of us went out and did 4.1 miles.

I took these pictures somewhat surreptitiously during church, but the light coming in through these windows was amazing the way it was lighting up the window niches. I'm glad I did it because by the end of the service the effect was much less bright.
stained glass window

This one is even more stunning.
stained glass window

I have no idea what persons or saints these windows depict. Sorry about that.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 120.7 of which 23.7 is North Country Trail.

Pentwater Pathway, Red Loop and more to connect to parking. 4.1 miles

See A Pentwater Afternoon

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Serious Railroad Sniffing

 I had to go to Fountain this morning, halfway to my section of trail anyway. The ground is still dry, and this morning, also frozen (18 degrees) which turned out to be a good thing. Exploring that railroad berm just called to me. This is the picture I showed you on Thursday. On this picture the RR is yellow and the trail is blue.

Manistee and Luther Railroad spur

My sense is that it's a spur of the Manistee & Luther RR, which operated from 1885-1913, for only 28 years. This seems short, but it was actually the longest operating line of R.G. Peters (local folks have probably seen interpretive signs about his railroads at Nordhouse Dunes). But I haven't actually connected it up yet. If it is, this spur does not show on the only map of the M&L route that I have. I've recreated parts of that map here, so you can see it in relation to the trail.

The yellow lines are the known M&L routes. It's a fact that it followed 9-Mile Road from Eastlake, all the way beyond 9-Mile Bridge, and then at some point left the road and continued south of Dublin and farther east to Hoxeyville, the eastern terminus of the main branch. This route even shows on old topo maps.

The southern route crossed the Little Manistee River (seems to be west of the current 9-Mile Bridge, but I'm not positive about that because the map I have has a line about a quarter of a mile wide), angled southeast, and at Koenig Rd (FR 5331, Dead Horse Marsh Rd) split again. One branch angled ENE along what is now the aforementioned road, and also continued SE. This branch includes the lovely shaded rail bed just north of the Freesoil trailhead that I often show you pictures of (MI-836.5ish). This is the branch that may have actually reached Luther.

The purple line is what I found today.
partial map of the Manistee and Luther Railroad

So, what I did today was park on Tyndall Rd near where the known berm crosses the trail. Then I began bushwhacking. I knew that section might be hard to spot. I'd tried before. No dice. I wandered around without finding it and made my way to the known place where it crosses the trail. First picture above. Then I followed that berm.

It quickly disappeared. More wandering. Then I found it! Some sections were in cuts.
Manistee and Luther RR cut

Other parts were clear berms.
Manistee & Luther RR berm

It was places like this that I am glad the ground was frozen today. Here I could not walk on the berm because that is where the trees have grown, so I had to stay down beside it where I'll bet it's pretty wet at some times of the year.
Manistee & Luther Railroad berm

In other places, where the rails were laid at grade you could hardly tell where it had been. (straight ahead)
small pines in woods

Another piece made me glad it was dry and frozen. The route was overgrown with leatherleaf- a sure sign that there is water very near the surface.

Also plenty of sphagnum moss there- also a wetland species.

I continued northeast and then it turned slightly to the north and "ended" at a dirt road which I think is now private. I'm pretty sure that road was the old rail bed. My guess is that it continued north until it hit the middle route before that route crossed the Little Manistee River.

Then I turned around and followed it back to the trail crossing. I did manage to find the route that entire distance on the way back although it does become very unclear where I had lost it outward bound. So, how do you find an old rail bed? You've seen the cuts and berms. You know that railroads have to be close to level. You know that they can't make sudden turns. Here's another clue, and it helped me find that missing piece. The beds were made level by digging "borrow pits" along the way to get fill dirt. Even though this was built 150 years ago, you can still see a lot of those pits. I've circled a couple here in pink. But which clearish space is the rail bed? Yellow or purple? It was the purple one. I was aided by knowing the spot where I was headed, and I could also see some pits on the far side.
old railroad borrow pits

When I got back to the trail, I tried to continue south. I hadn't had much luck before, but those times it was summer and there was a lot of undergrowth. I was able to follow it today. I only went as far as my car. I need to go back one more time and make sure it connects with that southern line (the part that goes through the swamp). Then I'll be sure this was a Manistee and Luther spur. The M&L was a narrow-gage road (the rails were 3 feet apart) and hastily built. It was known for having lots of derailments and accidents. And yet, 112 years after the last rail car rode this route, I am able to follow its path through the woods!

Where it crosses the trail is near MI-835.5 What I walked today is in blue here. (Sorry about the inconsistent colors)
possible spur of the Manistee & Luther RR

Here is my Avenza track. I only walked about 3.3 miles, but remember I was semi-bushwhacking at best when I was on the route, and fully bushwhacking when I lost it and had to find it again. Unique miles followed on the railroad berm was about 1.5.
Avenza track

Total miles hiked in 2024: 116.6 of which 23.7 is North Country Trail.

Bushwhacking a spur of the Manistee & Luther RR. About 3.3 miles

See Couldn't stay inside

Friday, February 23, 2024

How to Hike the NCT

 I guess it's time to reveal a project I've been working on for about a year. At the urging of Matt Rowbotham, the North Country Trail Association's Mapping Specialist, I've been working on a book that can be used to help plan long hikes on the 4800+ mile NCT.
map of the North Country Trail

I hope to have it done before the Celebration in August. That means I need to keep working. I'm 16,000 words into it, but there is a ways to go. Here's the deal. This will not be a guide, per se. Things change too often along this trail yet. Any book put into print is outdated almost instantly. Also, a true guide would be so large it would be unwieldy if it included all the things a usual guide book has.

However, it should help people understand why planning a long hike on the NCT is such a challenge, and help those who use it to make plans of their own. It will contain a list of all known legal places to camp along the trail. This will change more than most of the rest of the information, but for the most part, if entities have spent the time to create campsites or shelters, those will not disappear in a few months time.

So, I have a question for you, yes YOU! Would you be more attracted to a book entitled "How to Hike the North Country Trail," or "Not a Guide to the North Country Trail," which is somewhat humorous, but tells people right up front that it's not going to have the kind of detail a data book would supply.

It will be reasonably priced.

Today, I edited, I wrote, I worked on a few other minor things.

See More Mapping Fun

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Couldn't Stay Inside!

 I was going to hunker down and work a lot today, but the forecast was for 53 degrees! Nope. Have to go out.

I met Miki at the Freesoil Trailhead to walk my adopted section of trail.

Pretty much, when Miki hikes, so does Eamon. He is a young ferret, so he has lots of energy. He walked over half of the way, and got a ride in "mom's" coat the rest of the time.
ferret on a leash

The bottomland hardwood swamp along the section of trail that was Manistee and Luther Railroad is very dry. This often has a couple of feet of standing water in it.
dry swamp

Remember the bridges I helped replace in August? (Link below) Here is one of them completed. There are five little ones. So nice to have sturdy passage.
trail bridge

Once again, I contemplated following the unknown rail berm that crosses the trail here. See more in link below. Today, you could really see the berm heading north (yellow). The trail is the blue line. This would be a good time to try to follow it. We'll see!
abandoned rail berm

Finally, just a nice trail picture. At least, as nice as they get in the brown and gray months. My thermometer said it made it to 55 degrees!

I did get quite a bit of editing done, and some writing before I hiked.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 113.3 of which 23.7 is North Country Trail.

North Country Trail, Lake County, MI, Freesoil Rd to Tyndall Rd and back. 5 miles

See Trail Work Day
See Railroad or Road

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Pentwater Afternoon

 Here's Pentwater Lake, although that wasn't the focus of my activities, it's always nice.
Pentwater Lake

The primary reason I went there is the last thing I did. But since I was headed that way, I got in a few fast miles at the Pentwater Pathway trails. And I do mean fast. I cut myself short on time. But the trails were dry.
brown trail

I ended up with just 45 minutes to walk. I tried for the 2.6 mile loop, and I did it, but I was moving! I haven't hiked the trails there for several years, so it was fun to visit some of them again. There are more loops- it's really set up for X-Country skiing.
gray woods

I made it back to town in time to participate in the Wednesday evening dinners at their Methodist Church. Tonight was spaghetti.

But my primary reason for the trip was to be a substitue ringer in their bell choir this weekend, and tonight was the practice.
handbell choir

Let's say that my sight-reading skills had a good workout. Only one of the pieces has a hard spot where there is an impossible page turn, so I'm doing a little fix to overcome that. We have one more practice on Sunday morning, and then we play. Whew!

Total miles hiked in 2024: 108.3 of which 18.7 is North Country Trail.

Pentwater Pathways, Pentwater, MI. Blue Loop, 2.6 miles

See More from the School Forest