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Entries in hiking (44)


Camping Michigan, 2012

Although we are still on vacation, enjoying beautiful Northern Michigan away from the heat at home, we have come to the end of our first real camping trip, and enthused enough to label the trip with a year, because we are already planning an even longer trip for next summer.

This year's trip was three night's long, spent with friends in Wilderness State Park in a camp site that was nestled between the lake and the pine forest. It was beautiful and peaceful, and even had pretty clean bathrooms and showers, and the weekend was practically charmed. We slept in tents, we cooked over a propane stove and over a fire, we listened to the waves at night, or the wind in the trees, and we swam in the lake at almost every free moment.

We also took the boat to Mackinac Island for a day. We brought our bikes with us and biked the eight miles around the Island, stopping many times to explore and play, and half way around to eat lunch with the sea gulls. We visited the Grand Hotel (from the outside, of course), the Governor's residence (also from the outside), and Historic Fort Makcinac (also, outside), and we hiked the Island's hills to see the traditional geographic sites, like Arch Rock and Skull Cave. We took a horse-drawn taxi, we enjoyed a seafood dinner, and we brought home a box of Island fudge. We came home on almost the last boat, and watched the sun setting behind the Mackinac Bridge.

And who can go camping without a little hiking? Wilderness State Park has some beautiful hiking trails, and, armed with camera, binoculars, bug spray, and nature books, we spent an afternoon exploring one of them. One of the great things about our weekend was that the afternoons were warm, and the evenings were cool, but it never really got too hot or too cold. Of course, woods hiking requires long pants, socks, and shoes, and it left us sweaty and tired, but we were rewarded with some exhilerating wildlife sightings: Green Frogs, butterflies aplenty, moss and wildflowers, towering trees, chipmunks, squirrels, deer tracks, a Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker, and a family of Belted Kingfishers playing together over the pond. Awesome.

We marked our final night with popcorn over the campfire, and our final morning with eggs on the campstove. After packing everything back up we took one last dip in Big Stone Bay and headed south to our favorite stop in Harbor Springs, and that is where you will find us still, hiding away from the heat wave smothering our own city back home. And so the vacation story is to be continued.

Tenting with a view of Big Stone Bay.

Pouring over nature books and taking notes.

Hiding from the few sprinkles that fell just after we set up camp.

But it doesn't say 'no seagulls'.

Splashing around in the bay.

Art we found on the beach.

Roasting our first dinner over an open fire.

Roasting our first dessert over an open fire.

Watching the sun set over Big Stone Bay.

On our way to Mackinac Island.

On the boat to Mackinac Island.

Island fudge!

Setting out on our bike trip around the island.

Mile one, we stopped to explore the stoney beach.

Nearing mile 2, we stopped to enjoy Arch Rock from the bike route.

Around mile 3.

Nearing mile 4.

Mile 4, half way around, we stopped at British Landing for lunch.

Actually an 'unposed' picture.

Back in town, outside the Grand Hotel.

Playing in the sprinkler at the Governor's Island residence.

Outside Fort Mackinac.

At Skull Cave.

Above Arch Rock.

Above Arch Rock.

Marquette with a seagull on his head.

The main street on the island.

Taking a horse drawn taxi.

Watching the sun set behind the Mackinac Bridge on the boat ride home.

Hiking Wilderness State Park: Green Frog,

Monarch Butterfly on Swamp Milkweed,


Belted Kingfisher,

Identifying wildflowers,

strange, strange, birch tree,

Kingfishers playing,

and a chipmunk.

Cooling off in Big Stone Bay.

A game borrowed from the camp office 'book nook'.

Watching one last sunset over Big Stone Bay.

Morning on the bay.

Eggs for breakfast.

Heading out, looking a little scruffier than when we arrived.

Polo match in Bliss.


Just one day

We made a list in this morning of things we wanted to accomplish. We make lists a lot of mornings. Today there were so many things on our list that I think we were busy crossing things off from then until dinner, and even then we hadn't finished.

We both started with journal writing, then on to the piano, and finally we colored some Prehistoric Beasts.

Today was the last fall story time at the library and while we were there we searched for some books on early humans and cave painting. We found surprisingly little, but brought home what they had. Thankfully we already had one fantastic book on hand—First Painter, by Kathryn Lasky—that my mom had kindly checked out from her library for us (which we finally got to around bedtime).

Then, as we drove into the garage the sun came out, so we put on our warm things to head out for a walk and some nature collecting. We have been looking at the lessons in BFSU (B-2 and B-3) that deal with classification of things, recognizing the attributes of living things, and identifying the living as belonging to either the plant or animal kingdoms, so a hike with discussions of this kind was on our list.

When we got home we drank tomato soup from mugs and ate cheese and apples slices while we watched the second episode of Nova's Becoming Human. This is a series we stumbled upon thanks to Netflix recommendations and we've really enjoyed it. Lunchtime today was our third viewing :)

After lunch a little more piano, a little math, some geography worksheets, some Legos, some BFSU list making, some more fall leaf decoration making, and even some playing in the snow (snow!). Then finally some dinner making. Well, for me some dinner making, for Calvin some Highlights reading, since his new issue came in the mail today.

And even though we didn't get to everything on our list (more a problem with being over ambitious than with being lazy), we enjoyed what we did do so we'll count that a productive and successful day.


Autumn splendor hike

After days upon days of chilly rain we woke this morning to a thin layer of white frost sparkling in bright sunlight. One couldn't ask for better fall hiking weather, there just isn't any better to have. We had breakfast, we layered on the clothing and donned hats and mittens, then we joined in another county park naturalist guided hike. The find of the day was a multitude of fungi—here there and everywhere—but my favorite moment was spending time with a little spring peeper. He may sing his best in the spring, but he is one beautiful frog in the fall when his color is in style. The rest of the day was less exciting, filled with winterizing the yard and gardens and getting started on a Halloween costume (which may seem late, but it's still earlier than last year).

Bracket or shelf fungus

Puffball fungus

Bracket or shelf fungus

Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)


Hiking for paw paws

I had no idea what a wild paw paw was before today, but it was a hike to look for exactly those crazy fruits that was led by our county parks naturalists this morning. The weather was fabulous, the colors were just starting to come out, so we decided to drive the half hour south to join in the looking.

We'd never been to this particular wildlife preserve before today. Being a preserve, as opposed to a park, it is very wonderfully wild, and there was something very Jungle-Book-esque fabulous about hiking through undergrowth and mud and shaking trees while protecting your head in case of dropping paw paws. We actually didn't find any on the trees. Our guide said it was likely someone had already come through and harvested them, seeing as that it's public land, but we weren't entirely disappointed because, after shaking tree after tree, we were still rewarded with a taste of a nearby farmer's paw paws, and some Zingerman's Creamery Paw Paw Gelato brought by our wonderful guide.

Plus it's hard to be disappointed by a hike that, although not productive as far as fruit goes, produced much in the way of wildlife. We saw lots of animal houses—crayfish, woodchuck, snake, raccoon?—plus several wood frogs, a flicker, two praying mantises, a snail, and skippers, butterflies, bees, yadda yadda. We tried wild berries and roots, and identified a variety of native plants and trees, some of which had been stumping me for a while.

These programs are mainly designed for adults: a few miles, lots of climbing in and out of scrubby and wet areas, lots of quiet listening, looking, appreciating, and discussing. The children's programs are shorter and less physically demanding, plus they usually come with stickers and coloring pages, but Calvin enjoys both equally as well. We've been taking him on the adult hikes for about two years now, carrying him when he was still too small, but making sure that he was part of the event. To us nature is interesting for itself, not for the coloring pages, and we've wanted to share that wonder and awe with our son from day one and have included him accordingly. I will never get tired of the looks we get from some adult hikers when we show up for these events with our pint-sized hiker, and then their utter amazement when they realize that not only is he up to the challenge, he usually knows almost as much as they do about the natural world around him.

In his words:


Nature Thursdays—hiking Dolph Park

The county parks Nature Thursdays program is over, but we did nature today, and it's Thursday, so...

Beautiful weather called us outside. We did the usual first, like vacuuming, laundry, straightening, some math, lots of reading, and a little piano, but the afternoon was meant to be spent outside, and that's where we went.

There are several parks in the area that we intended to explore this summer, but heat and other activities got in our way, so we are exploring them this fall instead. We stuck relatively close to home today, stopping by after running errands and only an hour or so before time to get dinner going, and spent an hour exploring trails right in the city. The last time I hiked this location was when Calvin was only a year or so old; he was riding in the backpack, and we found a fawn hidden by his mother in the dappled sunlight under the trees. Magical. Today we saw swans, dragonflies, and plenty of mosquitoes that made me glad for the long clothing and bug spray. Calvin's nature eyes are getting more practiced and he found two snakes and several patches of fungus all by himself. Our only disappointment was a lack of frogs, but two snakes just about make up for it.