Hiking the High Country

Northwoods Journal
Saturday, May 23, 2015

(No journal post for Friday. The morning was spent going to garage sales between Atlanta and Lewiston, which all turned out to be fairly disappointing. Later in the day we went for a hike and nearly got “lost” in the woods. By time we finally found our trail, we were all covered with ticks! So, not the most interesting day to write about, LOL.)

My life down home is fairly hectic, especially during the preschool year. A while back there was this joke thing going around the internet, about when a man says he’s going to bed, he goes to bed. When a woman says she’s going to bed, she sets up the coffee maker then fills the dog’s water bowl, then remembers she needs to write out a check; when she goes to brush her teeth, she sees a towel on the floor and remembers she needs to put in a load of laundry, etc. Eventually she gets to bed. That pretty much describes me to a T. I’m a buzzing bee of activity all day long.

But when I come up here, I’m ready to kick back and relax. I am perfectly happy sitting on the porch all day long with my camera. Or, sitting at the kitchen table in front of the window watching the birds. For some reason, when we get up here, our roles are reversed and Mark becomes the industrious one, always needing to be busy with activity. This can, and has, led to a bit of friction from time to time.

Saturday morning I pretty much dug in my heels and decided I was not moving fast or hurrying around in the morning. I sat at the kitchen table watching the birds and worked on Thursday’s post/journal entry. (These things take me a loooooong time, by the way! I don’t have real internet here and only get 2 bars/3G on our mi-fi unit.)  I wasn’t even interested in having much for breakfast. Mark took the hint, making himself a Spam and egg sandwich and then going outside to play. Actually, to mow the grass.

It was a picture perfect up north Michigan day. The sky was a clear, crystal blue and the temperatures were mild. As much as I would have loved to laze about the entire day, I knew this was going to be the best day we would see for the weekend. The forecast was for the weather to turn cloudy with showers and storms possible. (Which they need up here, it has been very dry and the fire hazard is posted as high at the DNR.) I knew if we wanted to go on a really good hike, this was going to have to be the day. Around 11 o’clock I threw some drinks and snacks in a lunch cooler and off we went.

Thanks to Jerry at Quiet Solo Pursuits, we were able to acquire a nifty map of the Pigeon River area and the High Country Pathway. (If you are interested, the map is available for about $9 including shipping at www.PigeonRiver.org.)

Mark’s original idea was to go back to the Pigeon River – where we got a bit lost last year (you can read about that adventure here) – but that is a bit of a drive from us and we were getting a late start. Thanks to having the map, we were able to find a section of the High Country Pathway a bit closer to our area. We drove north on M33 towards Onaway, then turned west on Canada Creek Highway, then north again on Black River Road. There is a dirt parking area where the road crosses the Black River. This is obviously a popular spot for putting in kayaks and canoes, as we saw lots of people doing so both coming and going.

We chose to hike going northwest so we crossed the river at the bridge and quickly found the trail heading into the woods. It was a really lovely and pleasant trail and not overly strenuous. We hadn’t gone far when we came to this hill leading down to the river.

Looking downhill toward the Black River.

Looking downhill toward the Black River.

I wanted to get close to the water so we decided to hike down, even though Mark was afraid I would be done in by time we climbed back up!

On the shore of the Black River.

On the shore of the Black River.

It was very pretty along the river and we saw an indigo bunting singing high up in a tree top, too far away for a photo.

Milo and I both made it back to the top of the hill with no trouble and we continued on our hike. We had the trail to ourselves and it was quiet except for the sounds of birdsong. A bit farther down the trail we stopped to listen to a bird singing and soon saw it was this scarlet tanager.

Scarlet tanager in the treetop.

Scarlet tanager in the treetop.

The duration of our hikes is now limited to the stamina of the beagles. Milo is getting old and has bad joints and Daisy has a stage 2 heart murmur. So, when Milo starts to limp and pooter out and Daisy starts coughing, we know it’s time to stop. We hiked for about an hour, traveling maybe two miles, when Milo started to drag. We took a nice long break for water and some trail mix before heading back the way we had come. Mark and I would have gladly gone on farther, as we were really enjoying the hike and the day was so perfect, but the dogs come first. (And Milo is way too heavy to carry!)

Back at the parking area, this oriole was singing in a tree over the river.

Baltimore oriole sitting in a tree over the Black River.

Baltimore oriole sitting in a tree over the Black River.

We sat in the shade and ate our snacks before heading home. Once back at the cabin we were able to sit on the porch and relax and watch the birds for a while.  I took plenty of photos of birds…

Red-bellied woodpecker - one of my favorite photographic subjects!

Red-bellied woodpecker – one of my favorite photographic subjects!


Rose-breasted grosbeak, another favorite!
Rose-breasted grosbeak, another favorite!

 …and other critters.


Curious chipmunk.

Curious chipmunk.

Mark tramped around in our woods and saw a black-and-white warbler but by time I went out with him, we couldn’t find it again.

Later in the evening we went to have a cookout with some friends of ours. We had a great time sitting around the campfire and stayed up way too late! All-in-all, it was a perfect northwoods day that I didn’t want to end!

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10 Responses to Hiking the High Country

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    This is a fun post, and I love your bird photos. I did get one other chuckle. I didn’t know Michigan had “high country”. 🙂 The mountains and high desert near here have spoiled me I guess. 🙂


    • Yeah, our “High country” can’t compare to other places around the nation, that’s for sure!! Maybe someday I will get to experience high country – Texas style! 🙂


  2. tootlepedal says:

    Those dogs sound remarkably like me.


  3. Your favorites are also favorites of mine. I keep hoping to see a scarlet tanager, but they are scarce around here. Sounds like a delightful day.


    • I am always thrilled to see them up there, and it was nice to get a few nice photos of them this time. Normally they stay so high up in the canopy that I can never get a good shot. I don’t get them at my southern Michigan home. Their song is so cheerful, but I say that about all the birds! 🙂


  4. Thanks for the shout out, and that map is worth its weight in gold, it’s the most accurate map of the area that I’ve found.

    I’m glad that you two had a good day, Friday sounds not so nice, so it’s just as well that you didn’t post about it. 😉

    Your post reminds me that I need to get back up there again, it’s been a couple of years. I think that I know that section of trail that you hiked, it looks familiar, but then, lots of places look alike up there.

    My favorite section to hike is the Shinglemill pathway, but that’s also the most popular section of the High Country pathway.


    • I wish we could have hiked farther. We didn’t quite make it to Buzzles Rd (I think that was the name) from Black River Rd., which was supposed to be 2.5 miles. It was a really nice area and so quiet! I hope you get back to that area in the not-too-distant future. But, you have so many cool places to see on your side of the state, too!


  5. Tiny says:

    It’s a perfect day when one can just sit down and relax with the birds! And the camera. Loved your shots of all these beautiful red birds! I have never seen a scarlet tanager, what a gorgeous bird! And the Black River scenery was also very beautiful and peaceful. I fully understand why you love this place!


    • It’s always a thrill for me to see the tanager, since I don’t get them down home. And their song is very lovely, too. It’s wonderful to be in the northwoods — no television, no “real” internet, even my smart phone doesn’t work at our cabin except to text. So it truly is getting away from it all. (At least by today’s standards, LOL.)

      Liked by 1 person

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