Oh, A Hiking We Will Go

Northwoods Journal

Friday, June 21, 201

Mark and I, Daisy and Ruby arrived just after 9:30 last night.  We made the decision to leave Milo behind with Nathan this time.  We are planning to do a lot of hiking this trip and Milo is 10 now and just can’t keep up anymore, especially when the temperature is above 70 degrees.

We saw lots of deer between Forwards and Atlanta.  (Forwards is what we’ve always called the Shell station at exit 202 in Alger since I was a little kid.)  The great thing about coming up in the evening during the summer is that there are a lot of deer out.  The bad thing about coming up in the evening in the summer is that there are a lot of deer out and your chance goes up significantly that one will run out into the road in front of you!  Mark took the back way into our place, through Elk Valley instead of going through town.  He says that cuts 4 miles off the drive.  We saw a porcupine and an opossum along our road.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived was that the bears did not bring my birdfeeders back.  Beyond that, there was really only time to unpack and put the clean sheets back on the bed and that was about it.  For some reason Ruby would not settle down and kept us awake half the night with her wandering about, crying and trying to crawl under the bed.  Finally around 3 a.m. Mark gave up and put her in the bed with us.  Our bed up here is just a full size, so not much room for two people as it is, but once she was under the cover she finally laid down and fell asleep.  We heard an owl around 3:30 and I think after that we were finally able to sleep.  Thankfully Milo was not here to wake us up on the dot of 6:15 a.m. so we were able to sleep in!

It was nice having a relaxing morning.  No big breakfast, just cereal.  I took my second cup of coffee out on the porch.  I had bought a couple of new birdfeeders at Big Lots but it turns out they were a big waste of money and I’m going to have to take them back.  Guess it’s no big deal.  I put food out on the platform and nothing has eaten it all day.  I did have a momma and “baby” hairy woodpecker show up so I put the suet out and got to watch her feed the young one, which was kind of funny because the baby was as big as the mother!

Mother and baby hairy woodpecker

Mother and baby hairy woodpecker

The plan for today was to head to Negwegon State Park, south of Alpena, for a day of hiking.  I even brought my “Take a Hike” t-shirt specifically for today.  I have to give a shout out to Quiet Solo Pursuits for his post on this gem of a park on the shore of Lake Huron.  (If you enjoy photography, birding, hiking or other outdoor activities, check out his blog by using the link.)  We packed a lunch and our “new” (bought at a garage sale) backpack and headed out around 11.  It took us about an hour-and-a-half to get to Negwegon.  Of course, we took the scenic route.  Mark never takes the most direct route if there is a more interesting way to get someplace.  It was a pretty drive through mostly farm country.  We saw several deer and a raccoon along the way.  I think it would have been prettier if the sun had been shining, but instead we had heavy cloud cover most of the day.

At the park we decided to hike the Patowatami Trail first.  The sign said it is 3.6 miles but as a person who walks 2 to 4 miles almost every day I can tell you it seemed waaaaaaaay longer than 3.6 miles!  We started at the beach first.  It was a bit strange; stepping out onto the sand I almost expected the air to taste salty, as if we were at the ocean.  Ruby was not at all sure what to think of that big “puddle’ with all those waves!

On the shores of Lake Huron

On the shores of Lake Huron

(I had to severely crop the beach photos because after we got home and I was looking at them on my laptop I realized someone had written some pretty nasty words in the sand all along the beach and you could read them perfectly in the photos. L )

The trail paralleled the shore for the first 1.8 miles.  It was a bit overgrown and very sandy in some areas.  (A bit of a hard walk for someone like me with back problems.) There were lots of wildflowers growing, including pink lady slippers, wild irises, wild roses, columbine, bunchberry, wood anemone and large yellow lady slippers which I have never seen before.

Pink Lady Slipper

Pink Lady Slipper

Lots of other flowers, too, which I can’t remember the names of.  I’m lucky to remember the names of the two trails we hiked!  It seemed to take forever before the trail finally curved back.  The back side of the trail was much more overgrown – we were in hip-high ferns a lot of the time – with several downed trees.  The girls both did great.  I half-expected Ruby to pooter out some, her being so young and quite a bit smaller than Daisy, but she kept up just fine.

Large Yellow Lady Slipper

Large Yellow Lady Slipper

When we finally returned to the parking lot, we ate our picnic lunch sitting in the back of the FJ because this park has no picnic tables or other amenities that we could see.  Feeling a bit refreshed we decided to hike a portion of the Algonquin Trail but we didn’t go in very far.  Maybe it was because we were tired but the trail really didn’t excite us very much and the mosquitoes were atrocious, even with our Off clip-ons running we were being swarmed, so we turned around after maybe 20 minutes and headed back.  (The Algonquin Trail leads to several back country camp sites that you can hike/backpack in to.  On our way out we passed a family that was heading in to do just that – brave souls.)

I’m sure Negwegon is a great birding spot but we didn’t really see much in the way of birds.  Mostly because 1.) we forgot to take our binoculars 2.) the growth was pretty thick and 3.) you can’t really see much with two beagles pulling you along!

On the way home we stopped at a garage sale that was the closest thing to American Pickers I have ever seen!  The guy had barns, trailers and outbuildings filled to overflowing.  Mark was in heaven!  And now we are out of cash.  By time we left there the sky was turning dark and threatening and we thought for sure we were going to get a storm – or at least a pretty good downpour – but all we got was a light shower.  We didn’t hear a peep out of the dogs all the way back to the cabin and they pretty much passed out once we got home!

We had a short rest and then Mark built a small fire and got out his tripod and cooked us some salmon over the open flames.  He put the tiki torches next to the deck and with those and a big citronella candle we were able to eat our dinner outside – salmon, rice-a-roni and tomatoes and cucumbers.  A meal fit for a king in my opinion!  It was very quiet with not much stirring but the two hairy woodpeckers.  I had mixed up some hummingbird nectar but no takers so far.  Maybe tomorrow.

While I did dishes, Mark started putting in the window screens.  For some reason this is his most detested up north chore – putting the window screens in each summer and taking them out and putting the storm windows back in come fall.  He murmurs and complains about it endlessly.  A single blue jay finally found the peanuts on the platform feeder but didn’t stick around.  On a typical northwoods day, Daisy would have been begging for a second walk but both dogs didn’t move all evening.  Mark asked if I wanted to run into town for ice cream but I didn’t feel like moving so we just crashed and had a quiet night.  Off to bed early.

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2 Responses to Oh, A Hiking We Will Go

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I think that the trail that you took is the least used of the trails there. The other ones lead to the campsites, so they get more use, and are in better shape. I think that I forgot to mention it in my post, but the campsites are right in the edge of the woods overlooking the beach. Their location would help keep the skeeters at bay.

    I don’t think that it matters where you go in Michigan this summer, seeing birds is getting tougher by the day because everything is overgrown this year. With all the rain we’re getting, there’s two things you can count on this year, abundant plant life and skeeters.

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    • You’re welcome! I’ve been so blessed by your blog and you’ve opened my eyes up to things beyond our little neck of the woods! We could definitely tell that trail was little used, I felt wrapped in cobwebs the whole time! LOL But it was really pretty and we enjoyed the hike.

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