Rediscovering Skegemog

On the last day in November, Tony and I took Petey on a hike at the south end of Lake Skegemog. We had been fairly recently, but the boardwalk was underwater, so we turned back before we got to the viewing platform. After that trip, we decided this one we’d just stick to the old railroad bed. Back in 2010, we discovered a pretty little spot on the lake, and were sure this was the way to get there.As the sky darkened – no sunset this night – we figured we must’ve been mistaken. We did find this cool place, though, and had a nice walk so we were content.

Fast forward to today. Prior to this weekend, the sun’s presence has been scarce in northern Michigan. But we’ve had a fair amount lately, and all day today, the sun shone, begging me to join her outdoors. I finally did late this afternoon.

And wandering around the yard – despite the lovely dripping icicles – just did not satisfy. I consulted The Oracle (google) and her maps, and we set off for what I was sure was our previously discovered paradise on Skegemog.

Unsure of our distance, but sure that we only had about one hour of acceptable hiking light, we struck off at a decent pace. The trek follows a fairly wide, level trail through tall cedars and other evergreens. The path looks tangly, but it isn’t.
evergreen trail in

We arrived to the lake’s edge right at sunset. The southern end is frozen. I’m not sure how thick the ice is. It is both strong enough to support rabbits, as is evidenced by their tracks across the ice, and weak enough that experimentally adding weight (don’t worry – it was only inches deep where I was, and I was supported by one leg on solid ground!) causes interesting/eerie noises along the cracks as the force is distributed across the surface.


We stayed as late as we dared, knowing that we had about 1.5 miles to hike back out.

It wasn’t as dark as they look. I severely underexposed those shots because I liked the way the grasses appeared as silhouettes against that beautiful sky gradient. But, the light was quickly dimming down in the canopy. By the time we arrived back at the car, houses had their outdoor lights on.
dark hike out

We arrived home under the very last light of the sun, and to the glow of our neighbors’ Christmas-y house.

Thanksgiving {Hiking} Traditions

For the second year in a row, in the spirit of starting traditions, Tony and I took Petey for a hike at the Sleeping Bear Dunes as a family Thanksgiving outing.
empty snowy trail

We walked from the parking lot at the entrance to the Scenic Drive, and hiked the snowy road in to a few overlooks.
Empire Bluffs

The Dunes always offer spectacular views and a place to be engulfed by nature. I couldn’t pick a favorite season for a visit, but I love how the park feels absolutely silent in the winter. They close the scenic road to vehicle traffic, and a carpet of snow hushes any wayward echoes. The quietude is splendid.
desolate dunes

As you near the lake, though, the tranquility doesn’t last. In fact, being perched atop 450-foot sand dunes facing incoming gusts, the wind screams in your face, tears at your clothes, and flings sand in your eyes.

We stayed out on the precipice long enough for me to run to the very top of dunes to grab this shot of a lake effect spotlight on the Empire bluffs, and then we jogged back to the relative warmth of the tree cover.
Empire-Bluffs-Spotlight-blog

Lest you think it sounds too cold or inhospitable, I will say that 4+ miles of trekking in the snow keeps you warm. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:
so cold its hot

We got back to the car shortly before sunset, and decided to hop over to the Glen Haven Cannery (a few miles west). I was going to take a shot of the pilings there, but alas, they are covered by the higher lake levels. I can’t decide if I wish we’d just stayed or skipped the detour altogether, because on our way back home just minutes later, the sky did this.
glowy-sunset

We pulled over at a random spot between Glen Haven and Empire, because we knew the moment would be fleeting, and I am a photo addict. It wasn’t as short-lived as the lake effect spotlight, but gosh that glowy sunset burned out quickly!

To top off an already wonderful day, we arrived home to find that our neighbors had lit their home and fence. Let the twinkly lights photos commence!
lit fence

Gratitude and the Grass River

Grass-River-FB

That’s the Grass River at the end of October. I don’t get over there very often, but I am immensely grateful that it’s there. It’s one of the many, many natural places in which I am happiest. Without its public trails and boardwalks, I would not have access to these wetlands that are beautiful year-round, and that bring serenity to my soul.
Grass-River-trails2

Perhaps because tomorrow is Thanksgiving – or perhaps because it’s the low-light time of year when negativity tries to creep into my mind – I’ve been more mindful of being grateful.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. -Oprah Winfrey
Wintry-Grass-River

So tonight I am grateful for access to wilderness, and a husband who likes to explore it with me.
Grass-River-in-Winter

I am grateful for clothing that allows me to venture out into otherwise inhospitable conditions.
Grass-River

I am grateful for a warm home to return to.
Grass-River-reflections

I am grateful for my pets, who constantly make life interesting – and a dog who is more tolerant of my cats than they are him.
Grass-River-trails

I am grateful that I have such a wonderful family, including my immediate siblings and parents, my in-laws, my extended family, and our friends (who are the family we choose). We are so fortunate to share our lives with so many good people.
meeting-building

And I am grateful for you, dear reader, for joining me on this journey. Thank you – for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate your accompaniment.

What are you grateful for? Please feel free to comment, and spread the gratitude :)

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. -Buddha

Happy Thanksgiving!

Walking the Weekend Away

I didn’t get the memo about Walktober, but a few of the bloggers whose words I enjoy reading did. I’m not sure I count as a participant, since I work over 1,000 miles from my employer, and I don’t think they do this “event,” but I’m playing anyway – we spent practically the entire weekend out walking.

We had originally planned to go kayaking with a friend on Saturday, but he has a shoulder injury and we had high enough winds to cause trouble in that regard, so we hiked at Pyramid Point instead.

The trail is really gorgeous right now – all the aspens are glowing with golden leaves. The overlook is always impressive, though this shot is from September. This trip you could see red in the trees, but I didn’t take a picture for some reason.

The hike down to the bowls – big windswept areas of sand dunes – was even lovelier than a month ago, thanks to the fall splendor. Plus, we had another gorgeous sunny day, so we were all happy simply being outside.

Sebastian and I got caught up with our cameras once the trail returned to the woods, playing around with photos of interesting trees. He got a really cool shot looking up through some aspens. I got this shot that reminds me of…something. I’ll let you guess. (Vertical image is the one I’m talking about.)

Sebastian left us after the hike to go do Sebastian things, but Tony and I kept traveling around the area, looking for small hikes and photo ops. We found enough of each, which made us happy :)
me and B

Sunday we met up with the Cliftons, who led the way to another well-known view up here – the High Rollaways in Buckley.
Buckley Rollaway-4
I’ve wanted to stop by here for over a year, but just never got around to it. Most of the trees have tossed their leaves away, and the sunlight was scorched-Earth bright, so not the greatest photos.


But the hike along the North Country Trail could hardly have been more seasonal and pleasant. The pungent odor of mouldering leaves perfumed the air, and their constant crackling answered every footstep.

I’m so glad we spent so much time among nature this weekend. Today we squeezed Petey’s walks in between some nasty rains, and the rest of the week looks ugly, too. I suppose there’s always a a good book when the weather doesn’t cooperate. What do you do as October turns November-y?

Glacial Hills Hiking

Thursday after work Tony and I talked about taking Petey hiking over at the Glacial Hills trails near Bellaire. However, we are simply unused to the earlier sunset, and by the time we had finished dinner, it was too late. Thus, we planned to go right after work yesterday. The sun didn’t make an appearance the whole day, but a hike through golden woods was just what we all needed. And we made it back to the car just as the sun (presumably) went down.

iPhone shots from our outing