Taking Advantage

Temperatures were in the 20’s yesterday and today, so we took the chance to get out and explore. Since we have day jobs, we’re a bit limited on our mid-week options, but we are fortunate to have some hiking trails nearby. It snowed heavily on us today, so I left the camera at home, but yesterday the sun joined us (and so did the camera).

Tony and I have been working on Petey’s recall and calming down after major excitement. Happily, he hiked nearly five miles off leash yesterday with just a few minor incidents – both involving birds that he had no hope of catching. (Thankfully, he did not approach the coyote we saw at the end of our first hike. Instead, he walked contentedly behind me back on his leash.) We’re confident he’ll get his prey instinct under some kind of control – he just needs some training and patience. Which is to say we need patience.

Skegemog Petey-3

We’ve worked on behavioral modification in the past with great success. It wasn’t very long ago that we’d have to drag him out onto boardwalks and decking of any kind. It’s been worth the effort. I’m happy that his fears haven’t shrunk his world, and it’s wonderful seeing him not tremble as he steps foot onto these surfaces.

In addition to generally enjoying our outing, you can see that Petey practiced posing.
Skegemog Petey-6

He even practiced when I was simply trying to take pictures of the scenery sans-Petey. Clearly I missed the memo about the need for a Pete in every picture. “A Pete in Every Picture” sounds like a fundraising initiative, don’t you think? ;)
Skegemog Petey-7

Before the sun had entirely set, we trekked out onto the frozen expanses of Lake Skegemog. As always, Petey followed the path of a previous hiker. I made my own tracks. Not that I’m a trailblazer – it’s just easier to walk in fresh snow than the uneven footing of an obviously taller first hiker.
Skegemog Petey-8

That’ll be all from me for a few days. Friday is supposed to be in the teens, but otherwise we are expecting several days with single-digit highs. Brrrr!

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.

The State of the Woods

It’s the time of year again when we start spending nearly all our free time in the woods, staring downward, looking for morels. We always start the search far too early, and this year is no exception. We knew it was, but we wanted to see how things were looking out there. Turns out, there’s more green stuff above ground than we had expected. Not only are the trout lilies popping up – they’re among the first plants to re-emerge after winter, like crocuses, but longer-lived – but some leeks have sprouted up too.

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Early Spring Gallivanting

It seems to be a late spring for everyone, and while looking at the giant piles of snow in the front yard that the snowmobilers like to ramp, I was feeling doubly sorry for myself thinking we might never see our snowpack melt. Then I looked at some photos from this time two years ago – a little less snow on the ground, but there nonetheless. No crocuses, those first harbingers of spring, until mid-April. Sigh. Continue reading

Busy Beavers of Skegemog Swamp

We awoke to a little over an inch of snow this morning, which is nothing compared to the ten inches of powder Kathy got in the UP, but it’s a start. It’s practically gone now, but we enjoyed seeing the back yard and neighbor’s pasture lit up in the dim light of almost-dawn – a treat only for the winter. We were expecting overcast skies, typical of the lake effect snow pattern that permeates this portion of the calendar, but by mid-afternoon, the clouds had mostly broken up and blown away. Continue reading