Little Beauties in the Skegemog Swamp

According to something I read on the internet, in Michigan you’re never more than six miles from a natural water source. Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan (I totally stole this from a bumper sticker that I’d like to have as a t-shirt) – giving us about the same amount of coastline as the US Atlantic Coast – in addition to more than 11,000 inland lakes.

As a state, we are waterlogged – a fact that is difficult to appreciate fully. It’s relatively easy to picture numerous lakes and streams, but what you might miss is all the drainage basins and wetlands (swamps and bogs) that surround all these natural water sources.

Lakes and rivers have an easy-to-appreciate beauty. Swamps are tougher. As a passerby, you might only notice some occasional sitting water and an inordinate amount of dead cedars toppled onto their peers. Swamps are uninviting. Plus, I’m still scarred by Atreyu’s demise in The Neverending Story. If you get a chance, though, arm yourself with a couple gallons of bug spray and venture in. You might be surprised.

Prepare for even a cleared trail to be squishy and spongy and close…but you might be delighted by impressive clarity of a languid stream and the cloned cedars that grow over it, or by the soaring canopy of bordering trees.

You might notice a pop of fall color in a sea of vibrant June greenery.

You may spot some moss worthy of a southern Live Oak, or discover velvety “flowers” in a non-flowering tree.


Take your time and look for the wildflowers that change with the seasons. You might find something you’ve never seen before,

or you might come across some old favorites.

You may enjoy a typical plant in an atypical color.

And if you’re really lucky, you might spy a lady slipper orchid, which are nearly as ephemeral as morels.

But if you miss all the little details that encourage me to return a few times a year, a wetland overlook is rewarding even on a day when rain threatens. Now that we’re in high mosquito and deer fly season, I’ll stay away for a few weeks, but do you want to come back with me in the fall?
Skegemog overlook

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20 thoughts on “Little Beauties in the Skegemog Swamp

  1. Are you kidding?! Of course I’ll come with you in the fall πŸ™‚ and every other season! How could I not?!

    Feels so good to be back to reading you – great story and fabulous pictures as usual πŸ™‚ I was right there with you walking that swamp and swatting away the buzzing mosquitoes πŸ˜› It’s eerie that on this holiday, I fell in love with wild flowers too! Lisbon’s parks and gardens were full of them but Sagres with its unique salty marsh habitat was a revelation! Loved it there πŸ™‚

    As for the flowers you’ve clicked – they’re all so dainty and such pretty names too! And you’re right – it takes a special eye to see the beauty within a swamp and you my friend have it in spades!!!

    Now finally I feel like I’m back πŸ˜‰

    • I’m impressed that you’d sign up to join me. I figure after this season passes for you, you’d be done with the swamp for a while! And also the mosquitoes! (Though truth be told, it’s the unwavering focus of the chewing deer flies that really get to me in the swamp…you don’t even notice the mosquitoes have visited until you find the evidence later.)
      Are you back for real this time? πŸ˜‰ Dying to see your vacation photos!

  2. Great post. I love going on a walk with you – you don’t bring the bugs. I was waiting for the Super Moon at a local lake and was driven home by bugs!

    • I read somewhere that thanks to rebounding lake levels, there are several years worth of larvae that have hatched forth dormant mosquitoes – thus the extra bad bugs this year. I don’t know about you, but I respond far worse to the black flies. I get huge welts that get weepy, and if they’re on my head at all, I end up with swollen lymph nodes 😦
      Missed the Super Moon due to being engrossed in my crafting project. If the bugs were that bad, maybe it’s for the best? (There’s always a silver lining!)

  3. We Michiganders LIVE in a swamp! No, just kidding, although it kind of felt swamp-like outside this morning on my mosquito/rainy walk. But, hey, people sometimes don’t get how surrounded by water we are. I was complaining about skeetos on Facebook and someone suggested we get rid of all standing water on our property. Whaaat? We’re surrounded on all sides by standing water and forest. Not so easy to accomplish…

    • Hahahah! Get rid of the standing water…Good one! I’m a little jealous of your rain. We need some, but just watched all the storms cross Lake Michigan yesterday only to dissipate right over us. We didn’t get one drop. Guess it’s back to the watering can!

    • I could just barely see it *over there* and you know how I am… I like how it looks like a little fruit before it opens into the oddly giant blooms.

  4. If you read it on the internet, it has to be true, right?
    I’d be delighted to join you in the fall – who wouldn’t want to repeat this wonderful trek clothed in its fall colors?

    • That’s what I figured! (Although it does appear that Wikipedia sourced the info from a credible place)
      In the fall we won’t even need mosquito protection πŸ™‚

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