In Search of Old Baldy

Northwoods Journal

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our last day here and we awoke to a gorgeous morning – clear blue sky and the promise of sunshine!  I took my coffee and my camera out on the porch.  There has been a flock of at least 8 blue jays clearing off the platform feeder several times a day for the entire weekend.  I was sure they would be here for breakfast, but of course not!  I only managed a couple of photos, this one of a juvenile blue jay turned out pretty well.

Young blue jay finds the peanuts.

Young blue jay finds the peanuts.

There was a cute little red squirrel stealing the peanuts, so I had to get a couple of shots of him.  He was too adorable to pass up, although I did shoo him off the platform feeder after awhile or else he would have eaten everything!

Red squirrel find the peanuts.

Red squirrel find the peanuts.

Up in the tree eating his find.

Up in the tree eating his find.

Since we conquered Rattlesnake Hill yesterday, today we determined to find and climb Old Baldy.  Od Baldy is the other “famous” hill in this area.  Old Baldy and Rattlesnake Hills are the only two elevations named in the Michigan Gazetteer map for our area (pg. 62 of the Gazetteer if you are interested. 🙂  ).

It was beautiful as we set out.  Mark decided to take the Old State Rd. across, which is a lovely drive through wooded hills.  Unfortunately, he didn’t pay any attention to the gas gauge and we were about half-way there when the low fuel light came on.  This required a quick detour to Vienna to get some gas.  The beagles were not the least bit happy with the delay and whined and cried like crazy, wanting their hike!

As with Rattlesnake Hills, there are no signs telling you that you have reached Old Baldy.  We had two different maps – the Gazetteer and the local recreational trails guide – that we used to navigate our way there.  Also, the landscape is very misleading and you can’t really even see any hills!  We weren’t the least bit sure we had found our destination but Mark was tired of listening to the dogs whine, so he finally pulled over in a gas field and said we were going to hike here, whether we were at Old Baldy or not.

Is there a hill here?

Is there a hill here?

We headed down the dirt road and soon came to more of the DNR’s obstacles, telling us we had found what we were looking for.  Lots of huge boulders and felled trees were blocking the path, but unlike Rattlesnake Hill, here at Old Baldy their attempts were futile as the trees are much farther apart and the ATVs and motorcycles just found other ways around.  Also, some of the felled trees were chain-sawed right through the middle, opening up the path for whatever wanted to get through.  There was plenty of evidence of ATV’s going through the woods and up the hill.

One of the DNR's roadblocks.

One of the DNR’s roadblocks.

Although higher than Rattlesnake Hill, (Old Baldy is just under 1,200 ft elevation, Rattlesnake Hill about 900) it was a much easier hike up to the top as the ascent was much more gradual and the trail longer.  Also, the view at the top was much more panoramic.  The sunshine probably helped, too!  Mark and I had a lot of discussion about which direction we were facing.  It was noon, so hard to tell by the sun.  I guess it doesn’t really matter, it was pretty in every direction!  We also thought that several hills around Old Baldy looked higher, but who are we to say?!

The view from Old Baldy.

The view from Old Baldy.

Mark and the dogs at the top of Old Baldy.

Mark and the dogs at the top of Old Baldy.

Me with Ruby, Daisy and Milo at the top of Old Baldy.

Me with Ruby, Daisy and Milo at the top of Old Baldy.

A panoramic view from the top.

A panoramic view from the top.

(Click on any photo to see a larger view.)

After we hiked back down Mark drove the rest of the trail but it dead-ended at a swampy area that I think might have a stream running through it somewhere.  It was hard to tell from the map what it was, maybe a tributary of the Black River, but I wasn’t sure.

The dogs would have liked more hiking, but it was lunchtime and we still had packing up to do.  It took me forever to organize and pack all of our garage sale treasures, not to mention 5 days worth of dirty laundry.  It was just after 2:30 when we pulled out of our driveway and headed home.  Leaving never gets any easier.  Hopefully we will be back at the end of September for Elk Fest, but since I’ll be back to work, it will only be a quick weekend trip.

It only took us 12 years, but we can finally say we hiked two of the highest hills in Montmorency County!  Now we need a new challenge!

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2 Responses to In Search of Old Baldy

  1. Well, you had one nice day for hiking! Loved the photos! There are several hills in the area that are higher than either Rattlesnake or Old Baldy, but they were never named for some reason. The stream that you almost came to is the East Branch of the Black River. Where you stopped is about as far to the southeast as I normally get to when I’m in the Pigeon River Country.

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  2. Thanks for the info! I thought from what I could see on the map that it must have been part of the Black River. We are already trying to decide where to hike when we go back up – so many trails and so little time! 🙂

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