Trail Time

The arrival of fall brings a touch of melancholy – we hardly had summer, I’m not ready for the cold, and I’m going to miss the long days – but it also brings the blessing of fewer biting bugs, which means more trail time.

dog watching

Last weekend we had Tony’s entire family stay with us. Okay, not his entire family, but his grandparents, mom, niece, aunt, and cousin. Before that – last time we chatted – we had visited the Sand Lakes. Last time we were there was in May; the place looks remarkably different now.

Click to embiggen:

Sand Lakes marl pano

Sand Lakes - clear water and marl

Note the swimming pine trees and soggy trails. If you click for a larger view, you can see minnows schooling on the formerly dry path.

Even with all the rain (I tried to track down the numbers…to no avail. If you know of a reliable resource, please share :) ), the high ground stays pretty dry. This means places like Hickory Meadows in Traverse City are open for a visit after dinner. Or before. Cooler temps make it pleasant just about any time with the right layers.

And tonight we even ventured back into the Skegemog Swamp. Last time – in June? – we high-tailed it outta there because of marauding mosquitoes. Tonight only a couple chased and chewed.

We made it most of the way to the viewing platform before abandoning the trek. Excess water builds up in the wetlands, too, overtaking the boardwalk. :-/

Petey looks for whatever’s making the squishing sound each time we step

Happy to have made it as far as we did, we turned around with no complaints. Except maybe one: Where’s my apple cider? ;)

{Unrelated} – Petey at “camp,” because I’ve been promising Graham I’d share the love. :)

Mushroom Monday

It’s Monday here for about another hour, and I have a lot of mushroom photos to share – so you get Mushroom Monday. ;)

In between yet more storms and dressed for fall (all the layers: jacket, hat, light gloves…), we did lots of hiking this weekend. Seems like the weather hasn’t been very cooperative for much else – too windy for kayaking, and far too cold for diving. But, at least we have lots of beautiful places to explore on foot. I’ll check back in soon with some hiking images/stories. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite mushrooms from along the trails.

Have a great week! (I’ll be checking into all the blogs I’ve missed just as soon as I get my feed-reader working again!)

Lost in a Small Woods

Remember a few years ago when Tony and I accidentally hiked a dozen miles in the UP? The mistake two years ago rests firmly on our shoulders: we didn’t consult the map at the trail-head that had distances clearly marked (unlike our paper trail map).

Unintentionally long hikes seem to be a bit of a theme for us. This Saturday, I feel like we were victims of badly marked trails instead of just being lazily uninformed. We settled on a two-mile route in the trails behind the old Traverse City State Hospital – after consulting the trail map. We even took a phone picture of it so we’d have it nearby. We set off, taking the first left as indicated on the map.

That was the last time, for two hours, that we knew where we were. The map indicates a few different trails, neatly marked in distinct colors. The woods, however, is a spiderweb of unlabeled intersecting paths. At each (frequent) crossing, we’d decide whether to fork left or right. Or continue ahead versus turning.

bridge in the woods

We never feared actually being lost. The entire system is sandwiched between some main roads, and we could often hear TC traffic if we just listened for it. Eventually we meandered back to some marked trails, though we never did make sense of where we had gone or how we had ended up where we did.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Between Storms

At some point this afternoon, I checked the radar. Not for any reason; just out of curiosity. What I saw prompted me to send a warning message to a friend. A nasty line of storms had arrived on our doorsteps without so much as a peep. We didn’t have any storm warnings, so I did what any reasonable person would do you’d expect me to do.

Black and white storm scenes

The rain began to pitter-patter as I arrived at the hilltop. I stayed just long enough to capture a few shots of the wicked clouds, and then headed back home. The torrential rains weren’t at the house yet, but having driven through them moments prior, I knew they were on the way.

Thankfully, the storms weren’t severe. At least not around here. Up near the Mackinac Bridge, things looked dicey (on radar). The sun didn’t come back out to play, but patches of clear blue dotted the overcast sky for the remainder of the afternoon. Today was a Petey-puppy “camp” day, so I took my camera with me when I went to pick him up this evening. As another system of storms approached, one long tendril stretched, leaving a patch of threatening clouds in its wake.

The next round of storms has arrived. I can’t decide whether I should have been out to chase the lightning, or been glad I didn’t soak my camera.

All That Glitters

morning walk
My morning walk with Petey is always a treasured time. Some days it’s windy; others it’s still. Some mornings we walk amid a quiet drizzle or – gasp! – an even quieter snowfall. This morning we walked under a light fog pierced by sunrays.

All that glitters-7

Alas, I only had my phone with me, so I missed some of the moments I’d like to have captured, Snap Happy Gal that I am (yep – shameless plug and silliness all in one!). Knowing that the morning fog is fleeting, I contented myself with catching other transitory moments instead after we’d returned home. After all, an ephemeral dew glistened upon every blade and leaf under sunny skies, visibly shouting at me to snap photos before evaporation restored the magical morning tableau to mundane grass and weeds.

I’m glad I listened. The day emerged beautiful and warm, but rather prosaic after all.