Hiking Arcadia

Tony and I have always leaned toward the curmudgeonly side, opting for to bushwack our own roads rather than share one with the masses. It’s not that the masses are lesser; it’s that they are masses. Thus, living in Traverse City, we are more aware of the weekend crowds that gather to play in our northern Michigan playground, and we feel pressure to escape. Even popular outdoor destinations like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park feel too busy on weekends, so yesterday we decided to aim for a sunset hike a bit south of our normal settings.

After an oddly frustrating drive down US-31, we parked at the Old Baldy Trailhead in the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve. We’d driven by the area a few times, but never stopped for a hike. We joined one car in the parking area, and other than footprints, saw no other signs of humanity on our outing. Masses averted ;)

The trail was well-marked, dotted with late summer wildflowers, and devoid of bugs – pretty much the best kind of trail. The mixed hardwoods had a lovely open forest floor, deeply darkened by a rich canopy. But we soon climbed a ridge leading over the dunes.

The packed sand gave way to loose sand as we rounded Old Baldy, an open dune perched 356-feet above Lake Michigan.
Baldy

The sun shone through a hazy sky, painting the sand peach; a gentle breeze took the heat out of the climb; and the vistas made us feel tiny.

Because there wasn’t easy lake access, we decided to stop by the shore in Elberta so that Petey could get a drink and romp in the waves.
After the sunset in Elberta

The scope of the beauty that surrounds our days in northern Michigan sometimes leaves me breathless. Moving here five years ago was a good choice. I love calling this place home – even on “busy” weekends that encourage us to spread our wings a little.

Walking, Walking, Walking on Trails

Sunny, 60’s, blue, and breezy – today was a perfect early summer day Up North. Before I moved here from northern Georgia, I wondered if I would be cold in the summers. After all, it was often in the 90’s there over spring break, while it often snows here…in May. But five years in, I can assert what I already knew from acclimatizing to the Miami heat: you adjust. Not only do I manage to stay warm during most of our winter activities, but I also find that 70’s now feel hot – a far cry from the days in Miami when 75 felt cold!
For my overseas friends: 60’s = 15-21C, 70’s = 21-27C, 75 = 24C, 90’s = 32-38C

tonysebastian

Thus, while mid-60’s might feel chilly to some of you, it was a beautiful day up here, and Tony and Petey and I had a tough time staying inside. We took a nice long walk this morning, then another at lunch, another after dinner, and then we went hiking this evening with our friend Sebastian (smiling in the photo above).

We met at the trails over by the Boardman River, just south of Traverse City. I don’t know why, but these trails aren’t talked about much in local trail literature. They’re well-tended, have beautiful views, and even feature multiple river access points.

boardmanpano

I’m not sure how far we walked – somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 miles – but I am sure we enjoyed every second of it, and didn’t get swarmed by mosquitoes. The jury is still out on the ticks, which I am a little twitchy about, since I pulled two OUT of my skin the other day :-/

Unlike all the others, these are not from today. But they are other views of the river, just upstream from our hike.

It’s in the 50’s now, and several of our neighbors are having campfires. If it weren’t approaching midnight, I’d be thinking more seriously about some s’mores. Maybe I’ll just stock up tomorrow so that I’m prepared. Or maybe we’ll just go for another walk ;)

PS – All the photos here can be clicked for bigger views, if you like.

A Perhaps Extended Stay

You might have conjectured about my absence of late. Or you might not have noticed I was gone. I was. I’m back now, but I won’t even pretend to suggest that it’ll be a long stay. Perhaps I’ll make more frequent visits to the blog, but don’t count on it just yet.

You see, spring has happened Up North. The weather has finally taken a sharp turn for the better, and I am having trouble staying inside.

Also, we finally closed on our new house in Traverse City. We’ll be moving sometime, but we are still not sure when. Part of the deal included the installation of hardwood floors upstairs, and to redo the staircase as well.

And that might have already been done, except the house was built in 1895 and is heated with cast iron radiators that require a specialist (team? I dunno, but they’re exceptionally heavy) to move and replace them. Tony thinks we’ll probably move next weekend, but I’m ever the optimist and am hoping for this weekend.

Petey Hikes-2

Petey doesn’t care as long as he gets to play outside. With a friend or 20 would be best.

Petey Hikes-3

Meanwhile, I’m packing some things and am just grateful that it’s warm enough for the ice to have melted! (All these photos are from our hike this evening over at the south end of Lake Skegemog. I did actually wade through slush up to my knees last night for a photo. Youch! It was painfully cold.)

(Before I go, I should also say sorry for not checking in on your blogs. Work has also been crazy, and part of it required an operating system update on my laptop that I’ve been avoiding. Now the reader that I use to check all your blogs says I have almost 600 things to read, and I haven’t gotten it fixed yet. I’ll be around to your blogs soon though!)

The Great Skegemog Melt

Despite hovering right around the freezing mark, the sun was shining this afternoon giving the appearance of a much warmer day. And since we’ve endured far colder days, I decided it would be a perfect day for a hike – because really, when isn’t it? Since sunset happens later than 7:30 now, I waited until after dinner (which Tony cooked because he’s awesome!) to load Petey in the car.

Skegemog adventure

The parking lot, such as it was, did not look promising. I switched out my running shoes in favor of the waterproof winter boots that I’m tired of wearing. Most of the trail back to the swamp was fine, being along an old railroad bed.
Skegemog adventure-2

A good portion of the swamp trail was fine, too. It was either frozen or boardwalk.

As we neared the viewing platform, though, our luck ran out and the trail ran underwater. Petey, who had happily been trotting ahead and then coming back to check in, stopped at the edge suddenly unsure of where to go. Grateful for my olde faithful boots, I plunged ahead and then called him after me. He looked at me like I was a crazy lady (I’m not arguing that he’s wrong), and then decided that maybe it wasn’t so scary after all. He wasn’t nearly so trepidatious about climbing up the viewing platform, again bounding ahead of me.

Left photo shows our underwater trail. Right photo shows a dog in my face ;)

We stayed atop the platform overlooking the lake and swamp for several minutes, enjoying the warmth of the evening sun and the trill of the many redwing blackbirds. Much of the lake is frozen, but the swamp is open, so that’s a nice change.

On the way back out, Mr. Petey Puppy expanded his horizons a bit, exploring just off the side of the trail. I stayed up where I was sure it was dry, but he assures me he had a better time. Based on his snores down at my feet now, I think he might be right.

I called Tony to check in with my plans, which he guessed were “…staying out taking way too many photos of the sunset and having to hike back in the dark.” He knows me well, but we were already driving over to Torch Lake to check out its melt progress, so there Tony. Signs point to slow. (In case you missed that, we did not have to hike back in the dark ;) )
Skegemog adventure-12

A Skegemog (Mis)Adventure

Because we had gallivanted on Saturday, Tony and I decided to stay closer to home on Sunday. Plus we had a house showing (they’re not interested) right in the middle of the afternoon, which would’ve spoiled any potential plans. We’re still thrilled with the warmer weather, so we decided to take Petey for an evening hike on one of the nearby Skegemog trails.

I was last over there by myself with Petey, and while the trailhead parking wasn’t clear, it was passable. Things looks similar as we pulled up, and I advised Tony – who was driving – as such. Too bad I was wrong. As soon as we cleared the initial hump of snow into the parking area, we slid down and sideways into deep mushy snow fit only for snowmobiles. Thankfully, we were only a few feet off the road, and some careful back and forth work with a bit of pushing freed us. Much better than a couple years ago.

This was on our way back, so it’s dark, but I thought this post needed a photo break ;)
trail-Petey

The sky was fully covered in clouds when we set off, so I left my camera in the car. Petey was an absolute wild man – a veritable friskopotamus. He was pretty responsive, but you’d never have guessed he’d had a big day of adventures on Saturday.

Still running hog-wild after over 1.5 miles on lightly packed snow
Petey-on-Skegemog

Of course, the sky opened up a bit as we approached the frozen lake. I lamented not bringing my “real” camera. My phone died a couple of times in the cold, so I had to borrow Tony’s for a few of these. It was probably a good thing I didn’t have the Nikon – we’d never have left ;)
Skegemog-sunset

Eventually we did go, though. Partly because the wind across the open lake was freezing us, and partly because night was swiftly approaching. By the time we returned to the car, twilight was upon us, and Petey had calmed somewhat. Again, I am so grateful for the many places we can escape to the great outdoors!

You can embiggen this one if you want :) It’s a 180-degree pano of Lake Skegemog.
Skegemog-Pano