Friday, December 3, 2010

By guest blogger and photographer Mark Lindsay.

October 2010 Storm by Mark Lindsay
Photographically speaking, it has been an incredible year to be in Northern Michigan. The weather has cooperated in making outdoor activities very pleasurable. Lake temperatures were warm enough to get in and stay in. For me it also has been an exciting year to be out photographing the incredible beauty that surrounds us in Northern Michigan.
On many occasions, I found myself not too far from the shores of Lake Michigan, and not to far from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. On two separate occasions I was able to backpack and pitch a tent to allow a few days of walking and wandering as well as taking advantage of some really great photo opportunities. Usually after the fall colors fade, my camera has earned a well-deserved rest. The dust had not yet collected when the weather forecasters started calling for a big wind event in Northern Michigan, especially along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Tuesday, October 26th 2010 was the day the wind began to blow. I was working that day when we lost power at 3:00 p.m. The winds were just starting to gust to over 40mph. The forecasters were spot on when they said the winds would increase and possibly gust to near 80mph. The Mackinaw Bridge had a wind speed recorded at 78mph that day.
The sun rose on Wednesday to clear skies and very strong winds blowing from the west. The skies were blue and clouds were racing. It was about 10:30 am when I decided go to Frankfort and see first hand what the storm was blowing in.
Wednesday is the day I usually take my three kids out somewhere to learn about nature. The week before it was a trip to Port Oneida to learn about local history, but today was going to be a lesson about atmospheric pressures and how they affect the weather as we see it. We loaded into our van in Kingsley and headed 40 minutes to the west to Frankfort.
As we climbed out of the valley in we realized the wind was blowing much harder than it was at our phome. On our way we navigated downed trees and branches by weaving in and out of them. By the time we arrived in Honor the power was out to many businesses. When we got to Frankfort we could see that the waves were incredible even from blocks away.

October 2010 Storm Wave Devours Pier by Mark Lindsay
As we got closer to the beach access at the lighthouse, we realized the sand was drifting in the parking lot like snow, and in some areas the drifts were 16 inches deep and well over 30 feet long. Cars were lined up waiting for parking spots to get a glimpse of the historical, powerful storm. It was 1:00 pm and I was able to find a spot to prepare my camera and its protective lenses against the sands that can easily ruin equipment.
As we sat in the comfort of our van I noticed some photographers already out in the winds. Pushing the door open to exit the van was not only a challenge, it was incredible. The weather forecasters had expected a second, stronger push to come through around mid afternoon.
The photographic conditions were really exciting. For example, the white lighthouse was set against a dark, grayish-blue horizon, a perfect backdrop. The second front brought stronger winds from across the lake, yet the sun was still poking in and out from behind me in the east. As each wave hit the break wall, the sun would illuminate the spray around it.
I was able to get a few good shots before heading out to the less crowded Elberta. It was there on the beach when the higher winds roared across the lake. My youngest and I tried to stand near the beach at a safe distance but the wind literally blew us step by step away from the water. We ducked in behind a cemented sign. The sand was blasting every part of our exposed skin. My son’s legs were red from the sand and wind.
We watched the people watching the storm. It was an incredible event as the storm drew people out to feel its raw power. Everyone was stood in awe. It was almost as if Nature was challenging us, possibly wanting to recognize the near perfect weather she had dealt us for all spring, summer and fall. I was moved by the wind and blown away by the experience!

October 2010 Storm Wave Hits Lighthouse by Mark Lindsay

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bridge Out

It was Sunday September 19th and I was looking for a reason to get out. Oh yeah I had to take my son Jack to see the US 131 bridge project. So we combined a short 1.5 mile hike to the bridge via the spur trail from the Old US 131 SFCG to the current US131 bridge. It was and has been warm for September. The weather has been beautiful. I was a bit leary of the woods along the river because Friday the 16th bear season had opened up. But we went and just made sure we had our priorities in order and made ourselves aware of things around us.

When we arrived at the 131 SFCG we were the only ones there. We went to the east on a spur trail that once was the NCT before being rerouted north along the tracks a mile west of the campground. It is now a nicer trail. The trail connects to the campground via a connector trail .9 miles in length. Very nice forests here. The trail follows low along the river to the east and weaves in and out of cedar trees for the first ten minutes or so.
In the direction we were traveling we heard some dogs barking and
when we got to them, sure enough there were a couple of guys running there dogs and I am sure I knew what they were running. We went on our way and didn't see them again. Although later in the hike we heard gunshots from a big gun. It was about 30 minutes into the hike that we came to US 131 and there was no traffic at all. The road has been closed until Memorial Day 2010 due to the rep[lacement of the bridge on US131.

Enclosed are some pictures from that day. What a sight it was. It is nice sometimes to see something new on the trail or at least something new near the trail.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Old Baldy

It was the officially the last weekend of the summer. The weather was gorgeous and it was Sunday before Labor Day. We had tossed around the idea of going to

the beach or going on a hike. The children wanted to go to the beach so we decided to head towards Arcadia and combine a dune hike at Old Baldy and the beach on Lake Michigan afterwards. The drive from Kingsley is just a long half hour. The road we take to Old Baldy is lined with apple orchards and has some elevation and some beautiful views. The drive alone is well worth it and then add the short Old Baldy hike and it makes for a dandy day.

We packed all the neccessary things for a hike and picnic. We arrived at the trailhead to find only a few cars there. The day was warm and we had brought extra water. It is only about a mile walk to the top of the dunes. The trail starts off on an old two-track and turns into a single track
that goes through an old apple grove. The trail was filled with blackberry bushes.
At about half way the trail enters a wooded section with monster beech trees. They are such a beautiful tree. Kids had fun on one rather large one. Photo opportunties were many. The trail stayed mostly level until it went straight up. It turned to beach sand right as we started to climb. And as we reached the top of the hill there it was Old Baldy.
A land conservancy bought this property few years back and what a great thing. These lands are so rare to come across publicly. What a gem. It is here for us to respect and enjoy. It surrounds us today, and on this day it welcomed us. The folks we
ran into all seemed to have the same smiles on. It was a day to enjoy living. We had fun with our kids and enjoyed being with them in such a nice setting. I enjoyed seeing the looks on there faces as they played on a big pile of sand. Big big sand. Big big smiles. I enjoyed walking with magnificent views of Lake Michigan below. There were those people who chose to run down
the dune and struggle to get back up on all fours. It must have taken them a half hour at least to climb back up. What an incredible place.
There are so many places like this one here in Northern Michigan. The opportunities to get out and enjoy are countless. But you have to first go to get there.
From Old Baldy we drove north on M-22 to Elberta to a nice park . We were at a park where the Ann Arbor used to be docked. It was a ferry. Actually there were three ferries here and over a hundred years they were in motion. The views included old buildings and across the bay, Frankfort. We finished the day up with a hot dog roast and soda pop. We enjoyed today and all that had been. Memories are awesome, when they are memories like these.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NCT MI-05 Old 131 Bridge Canoe camp to Townline Rd.

It is the first Wednesday after Labor day. That means a couple of things, the kids are back in school ,my wife is back driving school bus, and I am hitting the trail. With the season starting to turn to fall, I had to do some trail cleanup and blue-blaze painting. My section is along the Manistee River, near the newly closed US131 bridge. I start at the Old 131 Campground and walk a short 1 mile spur trail to get to the NCT. Today I will walk west towards Townline Rd. The spur trail follows the river closely until the train track crossing, and then works away from it for a few minutes. There is a train bridge that crosses the river here and it is quite a nice visual feature on the trail. The day is quite nice. The trail moves very well once on the NCT. There are deer here. I like hiking where there are deer because you can really almost walk within 25 to 50 feet of them, before they turn to go. I don't like intruding or feeling like I am intruding so I give ample space. Anyone who has been grunted at and stared down by a deer knows what I am saying.
The trail is mostly flat and the rivers comes in and out of sight often. There is a nice campsite overlooking the train bridge. There are a few nice streams on this stretch of the trail. Cedars surround the gulleys and valleys in which the streams run through. I stop frequently to apply fresh blazes to the trees. The NCT and the NCTA are incredible as are all the volunteers who put in countless hours to keep in so nice. Our trails here are as good as anywhere as far as up keep and pleseantness. I enjoy the trail so much, I can't say that it is working. What a way to enjoy a Wednesday.
As I walk back towards my start point, I hear faint noises like chainsaws
and heavy equipment. I soon realized it was the work crews starting to take
out the bridge on US131 and over the Manistee River. And since it was still early and I was not really feeling like I was done hiking, I walked further east on the spur trail through the campground, to an area known as the spur overlook. The spur trail ends at the spur overlook, but a short walk to the east produces views of the Manistee River Bridge and the Hiwghway US131. Today was different on US131, I was able to walk right down the middle of the road because it was closed. I was able to walk up toi the work sight and look on to all the goings on. There is a roadside park with picnic tables and bathrooms here, and I was able to enjoy them all to myself. It felt odd to have crossed US 131 on foot. I was geeked though. What a day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Old Indian Trail

A few weeks back while hiking the North Country Trail a few miles south and west of Kingsley, along the Manistee River, I came across a concrete marker that read"old Indian trail, Cadillac to Traverse City" with a number 16 on it. Seeing these thing along a trail is pure excitement. This marker is the last thing I would have thought I would have come across out here. But now it does make sense to me. After that hike I returned home and one night that week, I was talking with my neighbor and mentioned that stone and she knew all about it and a fair amount about the trail. My neighbors are the Bowdens. They are incredible. Phil is 92ish and Betty is 88ish. They have lived here all their lives and Phil worked the rivers in this area way back when. We are so lucky and blessed to have them as neighbors, they truly are the best. So with the story from Betty and making mention of it to a co-worker the next day, a plan was put in motion. I will call my co-worker Dan.

It took a few weeks to arrange a day and Saturday August 22nd was to be the day. The forecast was for rain, but it had been rainy and cloudy and cold for days anyway, so that surely was not going to stop us. I run at the chance. And you know what happens when it rains on the trail, you simply just get wet. We met at my place mid-day. Upon arriving at the trailhead we noticed the sky starting to clear slightly, things are already going our way. We had just shoulder our packs and I was making sure the van was secure, I heard Dan shout out, "Hey man look at this", It was a $10 dollar bill. It was right in the middle of the NCT. We had to hike west on the NCT for a few minutes to get to the marker. It appears that the the indian trail headed north and south, whereas the NCT heads east and west. The plan was to go south and towards the Manistee River and try to find a place called Indian Crossings. We started on a faint path and eventually that faint path disappeared and with our compass we tried to stay mostly south and west a litlle. The trail dropped quickly from the highbanks and within five minutes we were in low lying lush hardwoods not disturbed by anything. Just green and the perfect shade all around us. It was evident the deer liked this area. Mushrooms were everywhere. Nothing was dry like with summers past. Everything was just enjoying the wet somewhat cool summer. I felt invited as I am sure Dan did too. It felt like we were supposed to be here. We didn't really have to bushwhack our way through the woods everything was very open and very comfortable walking. At least for now it was. Not long after we got comfortable walking throught the open part of the woods we came to a transition from hardwoods to Redpines and then eventually to Cedars. Monster Cedars all around us. We knew our direction and we knew the Manistee River was close. We did not really have anything else to go on other than a guess of where the indians may have crossed. I did research it a little and the most I could find was an article saying that it took 800 pounds of dynamite to unplug a log jam created somewhere near the point of crossing. We walked west and could see that the river was just ahead a few minutes and walked upon a county marker. It was a corner marker marking the four corners of public land. Marker was intact and legible. At this point we stopped for a break and I pulled out my Wexford county map and we were able to pinpoint our location. This was helpful because the Manistee River is incredible by the way in which it flows.
It is a river in which it flows every direction and should not be relied on as point in a certain direction. We saw some canoeists and it appeared they were camping. We had reached the river and we decided to follow it upstream or to the east and north a bit. We came across some locust trees and thornapple trees and along with the briars and Bull thistle this made for a picky walk. We seen some amazing Bull thistle plants. We came upon some more canoeist that actually had already put up camp along the banks of the river. They looked to be Indo Chinese. They welcomed us into their camp and allowed us to walk through. The nodding of the head always works well when there is a language barrier. They certainly had some nice equipment and they seemed very cheery and happy. It is nice to see happy people. We continued on and up ahead in the distance,
there it was, our first sign of the idian trail. It was a tree that had been elbowed. I don't think it could have been more than 50 years old, so that is kind of puzzling but it was definetly an elbow.

Today was not going to be the day we found Indian Crossings. We did though get out and scout and search a little bit. We did though get out and enjoy the richness of our resources right here. We had laughter and we had fun. This was a most enjoyable hike. We actually made money this trip out. Cannot ever really say that last line. The trip back to the van was quick and to the point. We had an uphill pull and came out exactly where we needed to. We will continue this search another day and maybe try to find more of the trail. Wouldn't it be neat to follow an "old indian trail".

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Turtle Lake Campground

As part of our stay somewhere close to home summer
vacation, we didn't have to travel very far, although we had two very full vans. We decided to camp with our kids and our niece at Turtle Lake Campground near Honor and Beulah here in Northern Michigan. We had four children, three tents, six bikes and enough supplies to last a week. This trip included no reason to unload either van and attempt to lower spare tire from its carrier while enroute to the campground. I was to meet my family there when I was down with work. I rushed home and loaded bikes and of course my poles and backpack. My drive was 23 miles to the campground. When I arrived my wife and kids and niece already had all three tents up. It was going to be an easy night I could see. The weather was gorgeous and the campground is a hidden gem of a place run by a gal whose owned it for 43 years now. My wife is a great planner and the kids are awesome helpers when it come to a trip like this one. We were all giddy. The lot size was plenty large enough for our tents and bikes and vans and stuff. The ammenities were flushing toilets and real hot showers. Along with the canoes and kayaks and rowboats that came included in the $19 dollars a night fee. It was an unreal bargain and the people we were able to meet and the new friends the kids made was just splendid. My pack was ready to hit a nearby trail, but believe it our not I didn't even shoulder my pack this trip. I did run to it often to get things like fire starter, bug spray and you know all the things one keeps in his pack.

The lake was a small inland lake and was very calm. We were on it often and did ride our bikes alot. It was a good trade to taking a hike as I was able to do it with my family. We usually eat well and stay in tune with our normal fare. We even made a nice beef stew one night.

We figured out why it was called Turle Lake pretty quickly and the wildlife was all around us literally. We canoed out to a small cove on the north end of the lake and nestled ourselves in to an area of lushness. The hummingbirds were everywhere. We seen many birds as well with deer and again turtles.

The evenings fell and fires were started and at quiet time it got quiet, very quiet. Two of the nights I lay awake listening to the embers in the fire pit crack and snap as they cooled. It was incredible really. Lost in thought and not really lost at the same time. Morning coffee was cooked over an open fire and was very much welcomed.

Our kids made some friends and played and shared with other kids in the campground. It is nice to see them in action. We enjoyed them as well.

We had a grand time. We like people and we learn from people. Turtle Lake Campground had a lot of good people in it. Mrs Scott runs a great campground. If you ever get the chance it truly is a gem you do not come across very often.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

NCT MI-05 19 mile Rd. to M-37

Today's forecast called for rain. I had to work only half a day and that meant one thing.... I was hitting the trail as soon as possible. It was nice and sunny, not to hot and not very wet. It didn't rain at all. Just another reason to never change plans because of rain in the forecast. I found the best thing to do when it's raining is to just let it rain. It has been about a week since being on the trail and I start to get ancy. My wife would probably agree with that statement. Today I would be hiking with my oldest boy Brandon. He hikes well. He is a "point me in the right direction" and he is gone, type of hiker. We hike well together because we keep the same pace. We are able to take breaks at the same time also.
Today we started at the 19 Mile Rd. trailhead on the north side of the Manistee River. We were planning on hiking west to M-37 just north of Mesick. Since we would be hiking out and back I really didn't know how close to M-37 we would get. Starting out on a highbank, the trail heads west and within 5 minutes it takes a nice climb. The surface is soft as it is made up of decomposed leaves. Within 15 minutes of starting point the there is an old concrete marker near the trail with the number 16 on it. As we get closer it has a plaque on it that reads "OLD INDIAN TRAIL CADILLAC TO TRAVERSE CITY" I will have to research that one. The trail stays along the highbank and continues west for 15 more minutes. So far the views along the trail to the south are incredible. The forest has been mostly hardwood. It is the best shade of green though. We can see for miles and miles over the river down below us. The clouds hide the sun every now and then, and shades the treetops in the distance. I record the images in my mind. These features are what make the hike so interesting to me. I will always be able to recall that view. I can't wait to see what is around the next bend. I walk down the trail wide eyed. In the distance there is a couple of tents set up on the edge of the highbanks. Didn't see anyone around and really we didn't see anyone else on the trail today either. Just past the campsites the trail turns to the right and north and heads into a red pine forest. It is soft and tall. The trail weaves in and out of the straight rows for only a few minutes. It starts to turn west again but still out of sight of the river and drops down into a cedar forest. Soon we come to a road crossing. It is 17 Mile Rd. This road goes north and south and to the south of the trail 17 Mile Rd. crosses the Manistee River at Harvey Bridge. We continue west on the trail and left of trail is shadowed from the light by a dense growth of big cedars. The trail does not feel like it has much elevation change thus far. It has that very familiar smell. We have been on a single track since 17 Mile Rd. crossing. The trail has been well blazed and follows a very nice path. Hiking is so much more enjoyable when the path can be found. I can say that all the volunteers do such a great job keeping the trail perfect around here. I hope that one day more people will want to get out and see what they are missing. This here trail does wonders. It is like a poison. It is all around me. It surrounds me. It comforts me.
We continue just another 20 minutes or so and we reached 15 Mile Rd. It is here we decide to have our snacks. We find the shade of a giant maple tree and sit in the cool grass and enjoy each others company. Brandon does the talking on our hikes together and I do the listening. He talks about many interesting things, mostly history and he goes into great detail. He is good.
We decide that this is as far as we will go today. His grandma came up to visit this weekend and we will go back and spend time with her. At least today we have been able to get out for a short one anyway. Sometimes that is all it takes, just a five or six mile wander on this path that is provided for us. It is right here for us.
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