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 😉 )
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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!

A Pre-4th Paddle

Ah solitude. Something you won’t find around here today. Tony and I went for our four-mile walk around the block this morning, and it sounds like summer. Not the bugs and breeze and soft crunch of wet sand, either, but the incessant thunder of boats racing on the lakes.

Tourism slowly ramps up following Memorial Day and crescendos today, July 4th. I don’t blame the tourists for flocking up here – after all, I used to be one – but I don’t miss them when things calm down again after Labor Day. Since it’s appropriate, I’ll just remind myself that they have the freedom to travel up here (and back to their homes!), and for that we should all be thankful.

Okay, done grousing. Instead, I’ll share a bit of quiet time we captured on a recent after-work outing. Because the rivers and lakes do get so busy in the summer months – especially on the weekends – we opted for a mid-week evening trip down the Platte River in Benzie county. It’s clear and mostly shallow with a sleepy current, and is one of our favorite paddles. We always see large fish hovering in the depths in the river bends. We often spot whitetails and heron in the wide wetlands. And we sometimes witness the activities of other water-dwelling creatures.

On this particular trip, we didn’t see any deer, but we did see several woodpeckers, and only one other human (walking his three dogs upstream) for the entire 2.5 hour duration. Oh yes, we also floated downstream with an adventuresome muskrat, too (bottom, left photo in the gallery).

Happy Independence Day. May you spend it however you best enjoy it – even if that is in northern Michigan roaring around on a lake that I’d rather experience in quiet serenity.

Click any photo for a larger version in a slideshow

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. Continue reading

Return of the Swamp Thing

For tonight at least, I am writing shorter blogs with fewer pictures.  Okay, it might be more honest to say that I’ve simply taken less time since last post than normal, and thus have fewer pictures to cram in.  Hmm…

Yesterday was a beautiful preview of fall Up North.  We recently got some much-needed rain that got pushed out of the area by some cooler and drier air.  The sky was full of drama all day, and we had big plans later that night: pizza, homemade ice cream with homemade salted caramel sauce (if you saw the Facebook post and are wondering why I won’t shut-up about this, you just haven’t tasted heaven-in-food yet), followed by Perseid-watching.  In between pizza and ice cream, we headed to the local swamp for a brief hike through some wetlands. Continue reading