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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Back to the Dragon

 There were so many things that were awesome about today, it's hard to decide which to start with. I choose to first show you who I was adventuring with. This is my long-time adventure buddy Ellen. That said, we haven't managed to do anything together since 2016, although she did make the effort to come to my final day of the big hike. For a lot of years, we did something together about once a month. We don't know if we can manage that schedule, but we hope to at least not wait eight more years before getting together again. We aren't getting any younger.

You may or may not remember that we've done things including hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing (she's the one who got me started on cross-country skis) and sometimes just back road exploring. She also dragged me to the Ludington Writer's Group when I first began writing mysteries.

Today we went to check out one of the new sections of the Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam Pond. The link below is when Monica, Keira and I hiked about 13 miles of that, which was nearly all that was built at the time. The trail will be over 40 miles long, completely circling Hardy Dam Pond. When I learned that some more sections have been completed since 2021, we chose to go see some of that today.
michigan dragon trail

We didn't have time to do all of one completed segment, and some of the partial segments weren't long enough. Doesn't matter. We chose to start at Newaygo State Park and hike north until we were tired and then turn around. The segments are distinguished by a color and number. We were on Segment 3- Tan.

The water could not have been more stunning. We sort of chose today for the sunshine, hoping for blue water. We got it! Where we hiked was largely along the edge of the pond.
Hardy Dam Pond

The water is still lowered for winter, but this makes a sandy edge, and we saw quite a few people taking advantage of that.

We hiked until the trail curved down around the inlet of Rosy Run.
Rosy Run bridge

We went until we had hiked three miles. There was a lovely bench with a view and a real breeze off the water. That was awesome too, because the temperature was about 70 degrees by then. We are sure not used to that yet. You can see how the wind is lifting my hair.
hiker at Hardy Pond

There we ate our lunches and then headed back. The views remained spectacular.
hardy dam pond

We were really hoping to find some wildflowers. They were not in profusion, but we at least got our wish. First hepatica of the year. Round-lobed. Hepatica americana. They can be blue, pink or white.
blue hepatica

This was the other great find of the day. I believe this is fire moss, or redshank moss, Ceratodon purpureus, pretty amazing in the sun.
fire moss

The other great find was a lovely skeletonized leaf, but my pictures are all useless. Anyway, we had a wonderful day. I talked way too much, telling Ellen funny stories, but I think she forgave me.

Oh, and talk about timing. There was a huge tree we had to climb over on the way out. By the time we returned it had been cut out!

Total miles hiked in 2024: 199.6 of which 69.6 is North Country Trail.

This trail is not the NCT. However, there is supposedly a trail called The Edge that connects Hardy Dam with Croton Dam where the NCT exits the Manistee National Forest. I think it's actually a road route, or a paved multi-use path. I might have to explore this. It would be fun to connect them even if it's paved. About 6 miles.

See Dragon Trail Beginnings


The Oceanside Animals said...

Lulu: "Our Dada says that looks like the kind of trail he would've ridden his mountain bike on for sure, once upon a time!"
Java Bean: "Ayyy, but whereabouts on the trail do you find the dragon, usually? Was it out terrorizing the villagers that day?"

The Furry Gnome said...

Hepatica is the very first woodland wildflower to bloom in the spring here.

Sharkbytes said...

Java- you have to be in the sky and look down at the water to see the dragon!

Stew- one of the first here. Probably trailing arbutus is in the running.