Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hiking Group’

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Guides and ID Sheets

May 2, 2013

Since the weather has finally broken and everything is blooming, Birds singing and critters running around everywhere, it is time to pull out the ID Books and Sheets. Just wanted to remind everyone we have many Free ID sheets right here on the HM Blog, and even more on the website DOWNLOADS PAGE.

In the column to the right, there are Links to the most popular ID sheets that get downloaded here, starting with our Animal Tracks sheets. DOWNLOAD THE ANIMAL TRACKS SHEETS HERE.

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A popular ID sheet is our Raptors sheet. Since many times the best view of flying Raptors is a silhouettes, the sheets have those silhouettes IDed. Most of the various kinds of Raptors in Southeastern Michigan are listed here. DOWNLOAD THE RAPTORS ID SHEET HERE.

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There are also some helpful guides in the downloads list and website page as well. TICKS have become a huge problem in S.E. Michigan the last few years. So we put together an ID sheet that also deals with what to do if you believe you have picked up a Tick. DOWNLOAD THE TICKS GUIDE HERE.

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Since many of the Spring Flowers are finally sprouting everywhere, and our next Group Hike will be a Wild Flowers Hike, here is our early Spring Flowers ID sheets. We are doing a second version of this ID sheet with Flowers that take hold after those early Spring flowers go away. Many of the early Spring flowers, only bloom for a short period of time before they are replaced by the more permanent, longer lasting Flowers. (whatever that means) 🙂 You can DOWNLOAD THE EARLY SPRING FLOWERS ID SHEETS HERE.

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The best place to go and see all the various ID sheets and Guides we have to Download is on the web sites DOWNLOADS PAGE. Click the Link to get there. We hope these sheets help you enjoy the Outdoors a little bit more and keeps you all prepared for what you may encounter while exploring Michigan’s Forests and Parks.

If you have any suggestions for us to put together an ID sheet or Guide sheet, please let us know. Being Prepared, the old Boy Scout motto, is always a good thing.

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So That’s How it Works

April 21, 2013

GroupTrailI know I have written on this subject before. In fact, many times over the last 15 years we have been Hiking around various Parks in Southeastern Michigan. I kinda believe that we have lasted 15 years because of what I am writing about here. And that is the Camaraderie and openness that HM Hikers have towards one another.

There has always been something special the members here at HM have had for their Group. Everyone takes it upon themselves to interact with everyone that comes out for a Hike. Some Hikers are regulars. They are at almost every Hike. Others come out a few times a year, and still others join in maybe once a year. But it doesn’t seem to matter.

Everyone is greeted and the interacts with one another out on the Trails, by other members in the Group, whether they are regulars or even if the Hikers do not know one another. This acceptance of all people is what ends up making almost every Hike a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon for most of the Hikers.

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Sometimes the Hikes are not just about a special Nature place we are visiting, or Birds we are hand feeding. It is just as much about feeling relaxed while strolling the Trails, taking in the Forests or just enjoying the view across the lake. The release from our day to day stresses and schedules have as much to do with getting together as a Hiking Group as the Nature experiences themselves.

No one person can make this happen. Over these 15 years that Hiking Michigan has been aGroupTrailStonyCreek Hiking group, it has been the members that have created this way, and have made these kinds of things happen on a regular basis. Talking with what is in many cases, a complete stranger out on the Trails. Having a friendly and engaging attitude towards all the people you are Hiking with. That takes a Group effort.

I must say……..I have watched this happen for 15 years now. Different people rotating through the Group. Some regulars, others on their own time schedules, and yet it is always the same between the Hikers. Complete acceptance. No Cliches here……..No Elitists strutting their Egos down the Trails. Instead…..plenty of sharing of outdoor knowledge. People talking to one another about as little or as much as they know about Nature.

NLJim&groupPANOI have spent my entire life outdoors. On the Trails, Back Packing, Canoeing, Bushwhacking, you name it, yet……..I learn something new on every Hike. That alone says alot about all you HM Hikers here. We may have the largest Hiking Group in Michigan with our 6,000 members. But it means nothing when compared to just how our Hikes go and how you members treat one another and even the new ones coming in. You obviously set an example that they caring on to the next new Hikers to join us.

This continues to be the best Hiking Group in the state of Michigan. And not because it is the largest, but because it’s members have respect for one another and the Natural world we visit and explore.

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What do I need to go Hiking?

April 12, 2013

There is not alot you need to get out on the Trails and enjoy some of the wonderful places in Michigan. Mostly it gets down to YOUR personal critter comforts. The things that help make a Hike more enjoyable, a bit easier and of course more comfortable for YOU.

There are a couple of things that every Hiker should have though. The big one is a good pair of Hiking Boots. The kind you select will again, be fitted for your personal needs and feet. Some people like a very lightweight, low-cut boot. Others like myself, need the ankle support and I wear a boot that extends over my ankle bone to give me the extra support I need on the Trails.

The best way to find what you like, is to wear a pair of running or Sports shoe and observe what would be need for YOU, out on the Trails. Join in on one of Hiking Michigan’s Hikes and you will also get a good idea of many different types of Hiking boots. The other Hikers will share their experiences with you, on what works best for them. You then can better select a boot just for you. Check out a Blog posting we have done on selecting the right Hiking boot for you. Waterproof boots? heavy treaded soles? Low-cut? High-cut? What works best for you and the kind of Hiking you will be doing.

I stress a good Hiking boot, because nothing will make your Hike more enjoyable then a good boot. It also will be something you will be Thankful for after the Hike. Your feet will not be hurting……No blisters or sore spots……and the Hike itself will be a better one with boots that give you good traction, keeps your feet dry and help in supporting your feet in irregular terrain. Do not forget to purchase a good pair of Socks too. Padded heal and Toes, and quality material will make the good pair of boots even better.

Water would be the other necessity for every Hiker, after those quality pair of boots. Being hydrated is very, very important. Even during the winter months, or Springtime, when just because you may not be sweating, does not mean you do not need to be drinking water. Lack of hydration will tire you out much quicker and can also lead to other problems that you just do not need to deal with while having a good time out in the Forest.

Again…..how you carry that water will be up to what works best for you. Some of us just carry a water bottle. Others like a Hydration Pack. This Pack carries water in a “Bladder”, and allows easy access to a constant flow of water. The small Hydration Pack also doubles as a place to carry any other items you find necessary for a quality outdoor afternoon.

For a day Hike, that is about it. Those two items are the main things needed for an enjoyable and comfortable Hike. Then you get into what else would suite YOUR personal comforts. Some people like a snack for the Trails. Others feel the need to have a small supply of survival items. Like a Flashlight, Whistle, extra Insect repellent, change pair of Socks, Hat, gloves. All those little things that add to the enjoyment of YOUR Hike. Mark put together a nice Blog posting on how to stock a Day Pack. Check out that posting here.

Dating back to the 1930s, a list called the “10 Essentials” have been developed, to help people with what are the most important things to bring along on a Hike. You can download the sheet of “10 Essentials” here:

We have also put together our own Essential sheet with what we call……What do I need to go Hiking. You can download that Info sheet here:

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The best thing to do is to take what you have, and head out on the Trails fro some short Hikes and observe YOUR personal needs while Hiking. After the good boots and water supply, the rest will be for YOU and what best pleases your needs and comforts while out on the Trails. remember that it is worth spending the extra money on quality gear and boots. They will last you forever and the difference in comfort and how they serve your needs are tremendous and worth any extra costs.

A big TIP for Hiking is……..do not wear Jeans while doing anything outdoors. The jeans are made from cotton, which absorbs moisture, making the pants uncomfortable, heavier and less accommodating to your movements. A pair of Synthetic material Pants will be worth the investment. There are many kinds of these style of Pants. Some have lower legs that Zip-off. Others have all types of pockets for carrying all those critter comforts you may want. The important point here is……No Jeans while out on the Trails. It will only take one try of a Synthetic material pair of Pants for you to see the HUGE difference in comfort you will experience.

So get a pair of boots & Socks, grab some water and any of those critter comforts you may need, and head out to your local Park and get started. Whether you are Hiking for health, Bird watching, Geocaching, Mushroom Hunting, or to just experience the Natural world and the relaxation you will find there, just GO GET OUTDOORS. We will see you all out on the Trails. 🙂

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Some Reminders

April 9, 2013

We try and keep Links to much of our PDF INFO sheets, Maps and other helpful outdoor information, on most of our NET locations. But the best place to go is our web site, where you will always find everything we have, there for Download.

If it is Maps you want, then the Park Maps page is where you need to be. From the PARK Maps page you can also head over to the SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN Parks page. These couple of pages, linked to the main PARK Maps page, have over 120 Maps and Parks listed around S.E. Michigan. Maps on how to get to the Parks, Pictures and many details and contact numbers. Go to the PARKS MAP Page of the HM web site. Or go deeper on those pages and get yourself to the SOUTHEASTERN Michigan Parks page, where you will find those 120 Parks located in S.E. Michigan.

Spring is about to POP. Animal ID sheets, Birding ID, Raptors ID sheets, Heron reports, and all types of Guides are available to Download on the web site DOWNLOADS Page. This single page of the HM web site is being expanded at this moment, to become two full pages of PDF files that are free to Download and print for yourself at home. You may find many of these Info sheets and Guides, useful in your early Springtime explorations.

The Hiking Michigan Outdoor NewsLetter is also available from the HM main website. The quarterly issue is posted on the site to read right there, or Download bits and pieces for home reading. Many excellent and helpful articles from Birding experts, Naturalists and just plain Michigan Hikers, who are willing to share their experiences with all of us for free. Check out the NEWSLETTER Page of the website.

So head on over to the official Hiking Michigan website and check out some of the many things available to You, for Free. Take a look at the Hikes schedule while you are there and see if there is something you would like to join in on. Hopefully there is something that interests you, and we will see you out on the Trails, real soon.

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It is all about what is inside

April 3, 2013

I have spent the last 15 years organizing Hikes and outdoor activities with hiking Michigan. Before that, I organized smaller parties heading out on 1-4 week trips into deep Canada and Michigan, on Hiking, Back Packing and Canoeing explorations. learned alot doing these things. Still learning!

Moth-Bee-FlowerI have met people who could pull out the scientific name of almost anything we came across in the outdoors. Others could talk for 30 minutes on just about any critter, insect, Tree or plant. How some of these people even retain all this information still astounds me. But I listen in Awwww, as they are willing to share their experiences and knowledge of the Natural world.

Then there have been the equipment nuts. I was one of those for most of my youth. Could name any Manufacturer, serial number and model number, of any piece of gear or equipment on the market. Tried most of the stuff out as well. Great experience! But things are changing so often it becomes impossible to keep up with much of what is out there. It is one of the reason I love all you HM people. You all share your stories and experiences of gear and equipment use, not to mention the critter encounters.

I am writing this Blog because there is a big difference in many of these people. SomeMiss-Lady-Bug learn about the outdoors in great detail, but have trouble sharing. Others know little, but will tell you a story of their experience that has you hanging on the edge of your seat. Their enthusiasm is what makes the story. The excitement of just being outdoors and then telling others of that experience.

I am so very happy I have met all those Geeks, who just know EVERYTHING about critters, Plants, Trees and insects. But it would not be the same with the people who just love Mother earth, and want to share their experiences with everyone that will listen. Not sure who I have learned more from. 🙂

I think I speak for many HM people when I say that we all enjoy hearing about each others outdoor explorations, seeing your latest pictures and notes. It enthuses us to go out and see the same things, or find our own unique spot or critter to tell you all about.

NLJim&groupPANOSo keep sending us your pictures. Keep telling us about your latest Hike, Canoe Paddle, or outdoor experience. We are all waiting to hear about those Cool places to experience the best in the Outdoors. The simplest of moments with the best results. 🙂 We cannot get enough of all of your outdoor experiences, Park explorations or just your sitting along the Lake shore at sunset.

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Early, Early SPRING Flowers

March 26, 2013

We are at the very beginnings of what soon will be the BIG BLOOM. When it seems like all the flowers are presenting their beauty at one time. One of the very earliest of Spring flowers here in Southeastern Michigan is the Skunk Cabbage. It’s flower really doesn’t look much like those beautiful wild flowers to come, but it is non the less, the earliest of spring blooms.

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It is not uncommon for Skunk Cabbage to even push their way up through the melting snow. The plant prefers a swamping habitat and thrives in that deep black, water soaked soil of a swamps edge or stream bank.

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Like many other plants in Michigan, it changes dramatically as the year moves forward. In this early Springtime, it appears as a twisted cone, with an almost alien looking knobbed ball inside. This will quickly give way to a very green leafy plant that will open to an almost 3 foot wide spread of giant green leafs. You will see many of these together along a swampy area like a blanket of green. The growth rate is amazing.

Probably the next earliest bloomer in Southeastern Michigan as Spring flowers go, is the Blood Root. Some people will debate this plant as being the earliest of flower blooms, in but in this area of S.E. Michigan, I normally find the Blood Root, white flower to be the first real flower I mostly come across, this early in the season.

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The flower only lasts a week or so and then the only way to identify this very Cool plant, is by it’s unique leaf shape. You will want to learn this plant because of it’s many uses. The Native Americans used it for cloths Dye, as did our early Pioneers. It produces a bright red color, deep in the root. That red changes to a more orangey color as you come closer to the surface.

We are still a few weeks away from the Big Bloom of Spring wild flowers here in Southeastern Michigan. But you can find the Skunk Cabbage already, and very shortly the Blood Root flower will start to appear. Check the Spring Flowers ID sheet we have put together for S.E. Michigan. We have not covered every single spring flower, but we have tried to cover the most commonly found flowers in this corner of our state of Michigan.

DOWNLOAD THE SPRING FLOWERS ID SHEETS HERE

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There are many other useful ID sheets and Outdoor reference guides on the Hiking Michigan web site, on the DOWNLOADS Page.

GO TO THE HM WEBSITE DOWNLOADS PAGE

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First Day of Spring

March 21, 2013

According to the Sun/Moon and planet….it is officially Spring. That is even backed up by the Groundhog and his slightly false prediction this year. 🙂 I was reading a posting from our friend Janet Hug, local Birder and Weather person. She had posted some beautiful photos of shots taken on this very day last year, when the temperature was 80 degrees.

I am sure many of you are saying…..well….where is it? But what happened last year with this to early Springtime temps., was that we had a freeze shortly afterwards that destroyed alot of the fruit crops and many other plants that got fooled into believing it truly was FULL SPRINGTIME.

It gets hard to say things like……it should be 80 degrees yet. We may want it to be 80 degrees, because by this point in the year, most of us have had enough Winter, cold weather, snow and everything else. But we need these seasons for everything to work right. If you through the seasons calendar off even by a little bit, it can have catastrophic results to the environment. We need these transition periods in-between the official seasons to make it all work correctly.

I was just reading a 10 year study about the Migration habits of many different Bird species. The Study claimed that many of the migratory birds have shifted their comings and goings by 2-3 weeks, due to what they believe has been these odd seasonal changes and strange weather conditions. Like 80 degrees on the second week of March in southern Michigan. Not correct temperatures.

So what you say. Well, just like the freeze we got, shortly after the week or so of 80 degree temperatures last year, and then the freeze afterwards, that had very bad consequences not just for the fruit crops, but for many other species. From insects to Trees to many different critters, things are timed to happen at a certain part of each season.

If the insect supply is not where it should be at a particular time, then many young hatchlings, fish and others will fail due to that critical food sources needed right at that time period. I watched as the Great Blue Herons returned to their nesting site at Holland Ponds this year, in the first week of March. The earliest I have seen that happen to date. I have watched as they have stood semi-freezing at the tops of the tallest trees, waiting for mates to arrive. Even surviving this early cold arrival, the Herons producing youngsters right away, may have difficulty in gathering all the food needed for themselves and young hatchlings if the young turtles and fish they feed on, have not yet reproduced themselves due to the cold condition still enveloping S.E.Michigan and the herons extra early return.

The balance in Nature is a very delicate one. A few weeks of climate differences can mean big changes in what will be happening that year. It is a snowball effect as well. One creature fails, and this produces a failure in another area too. Notice the much larger then normal insect populations we had in Michigan last year? Our almost no Winter, warm Spring and hot summer, produced a huge in-balance in the way of things.

So…..the first day of Spring does not mean the temperatures should change from 30 degrees, to 80 degrees overnight. The transitions between seasons are just as important as the seasons themselves. Take it all in. These in-between periods are just as exciting as the main seasons are. In many cases they are rare, short-lived time periods where big things take place. Things that will only take place once that year, and only during those transition periods.

The first Day of Spring only indicates celestial cycles and Earth alignments. The time on either side of these exact season days are the very exciting times during which everything changes in one way or another. And how wonderful is that. 🙂

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Be Michigan OUTDOORS

March 17, 2013

BOOTSmainPATCHWe have been looking for a way to make it easier to continue our quarterly Newsletter, Share outdoor Links, and have a place where you all can come and find all types of Outdoor connections. Connections to other Blogs with useful Nature knowledge. Blogs & Websites for Birding, Geocaching, Camping and Hiking almost anywhere.

YES…..we have this Blog here, the official Hiking Michigan Blog. But it is focused on the Group, it’s Hikes, what we experience more specifically on those Hikes. Individual Parks and trails we visit and mostly HM Group related stuff.

The new BE MICHIGAN Blog, covers a little bit of everything. And not just HM related. The Blog is also open to many other Outdoor experts and friends who will be writing articles and making Blog postings on a variety of outdoor subjects. All with keeping YOU informed, Sharing the knowledge and helping everyone be just a little bit better prepared before they head out into the Parks and Trails of Michigan and Canada.

MI.Born2So……if you have your own Blog, or you want to write about your Outdoor experiences and Share your knowledge with all of us, then drop me an email, and we will open up a place for you to be able to make posts here on the site. Contact Rob Golda.

Head over to the new Blog and see what it is all about. We are building as we go, so make suggestions or even write for the Blog itself. Just like Hiking Michigan the hiking group, this new Blog IS YOURS. It should represent YOU and your ideas. GO TO BE MICHIGAN OUTDOORS.

 

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Trail BOOTS!

March 1, 2013

Probably the most talked about item out on the Trails are Footwear. That is also the number one question I get from many of the new members signing up here at Hiking Michigan. Besides carrying Water with you out on the Trails, quality Footwear is the 2nd most important item to be focused on, in my opinion.

A quality pair of Hiking Boots can make all the difference in the world on who a Hike or Trail experience can be for everyone. Good ankle support, breathable waterproofing, quality “Vibram” soles, and a molded boot will make your feet feel wonderful. Or better yet…..you will not be thing about your feet during or after the Hike.

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Add in a quality pair of socks as well, and you are set for just about any length Hike in most any kind of Trails conditions. If you are over the age of 40, you have most likely stopped growing. 🙂 So spending a little bit more money on a quality pair of Boots is well worth the cost. You will not be growing out of this investment, and with some proper care and cleaning, these Boots can last you 10 years or more.

10 years you say! Come on now. YUP…..”Vibram” soles wear for a very long time. Some boots even allow you to change out the soles when they have worn out. Triple stitching on a quality Boot means with care and cleaning that 10 years of predicted use is conceivable. trust me here, I have Boots older then 10 years. Some of that is because like some women I know (no chauvinistic intent here) I almost collect Boots. I have Boots for almost every season and occasion during that season. For me, there is where I get more then 10 years out of many of my outdoor footwear.

When I was younger, I used yo purchase a descent $40.00 pair of what I called my “One season throw-away Boots”. They where good for just under one year and could be heavily abused. Now I will spend up to $400.00 on a super quality pair of Winter, re-in forced “ALPINA” insulted, high-top Hiking Boots. But realistically, the general cost for a good quality pair of outdoor footwear is $90.00 – $240.00. There is a big range here because it depends on many things.

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Do you have an extra wide foot? Do you walk straight? If you do not right now, after a couple of pairs of quality Boots, you soon will straighten up those “Knocked ankles”. Once you get into a quality stride, the wear on those expensive Boots will even out and that 10 years on a pair is doable.

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Hightop, ankle support style Boot

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More ankle support style boots

When your out to purchase a new pair of Boots, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Bring along a thick pair of socks, because most of the time a normal pair of socks IS NOT what you will be wearing. Some people even prefer the sole liners. A cushioned pad along the bottom of the boot that you can insert. Bring those along too, when shopping.

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Low cut style Hiking shoe

Do not be afraid to try on every pair in the store and then even head over to another store. This is an important purchase that can last you a long time and give you that extra plus while Hiking, that will make all the difference in the world. A leather boot will fit completely different then a Suede & Nylon boot. That’s just one reason to try on many different pairs while out shopping.

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Full Leather Boots with Vibram soles

While trying on Boots, walk up and down a ramp to experience the feel of the Boots the way they may feel on an uneven Trail. Do not be afraid to try on a pair of Boots that is larger then the normal size shoe you might purchase. With the thicker socks and the way some Boots are made, a size larger is not uncommon. You do not have to tell anyone what size they really are.:-)

The most important thing to remember is that if you are going to make a quality investment into something that IS the most important thing on so many different outdoor journeys, then do not be half satisfied. To this very day, after over 40 years of selecting Boots, I may take a couple of weeks of trying on different pairs to find the Boots that have the features I want and also fit and feel good. The time in doing this will pay for itself many times over down the Trails.

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OUTDOOR Links & ID sheets

February 28, 2013

Hey Everyone. We get quite a few downloads of our Animal Tracks ID sheets. If you enjoyed these ID sheets, check out the rest of the collection, under OUTDOOR LINKS, along the right-side column of the page.

There are BIRD ID sheets, Raptor ID sheets, and many others that are useful while roaming around Michigan and Canada. We are working on two new ID sheets at this moment. One of local OWLS and another on the most common Trees in Michigan. That ID sheet will have leaves and Bark to help ID the specific Tree. We will add twigs at a later date.

So check out the other ID sheet listed on the Blog. You can also head over to the DOWNLOADS Page of the web site where we hold our entire collection of all types of INFO and ID sheets for the Outdoors.

If you have any suggestions on ID or INFO sheet on Animals, Trees , etc, please let us know and we will work at getting them out and listed here. Thanks, and GO GET OUTDOORS!

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