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.