Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hiking’

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The Best of the NEW YEARS

December 27, 2013

HMFACTSAs Hiking Michigan enters it’s 16th year in existence, I would like to Thank the now, over 7,200 members that make up the largest Hiking Organization in the state of Michigan. Not only is this Group the largest, but in my opinion, It is one of the nicest, friendliest and excepting Outdoor groups in the state. It takes ALL of you members to have produced this wonder place for everyone to come and be excepted and enjoy Nature together.

I would also like to personally Thank everyone who have been so patient, kind and reassuring towards all the delays in Hike schedules this past year. My health recovery has been very slow, and I have received some of the most beautiful emails and letters from you HM members.

We will definitely be back on track come this Spring of 2014, with regular Hikes and Outdoor activities. Your support and loyalty to, YOUR Group has made us even stronger, and shows just why Hiking Michigan has survived and prospered for going on 16 years now.

HMchristmasI would like to wish all of you the best of the Holidays and hopefully the very best upcoming NEW YEARS!!!!!  We will be sneaking in some random Campfires and maybe a Snowman build over the Winter months, before we get back solid with a regular Hiking schedule come Springtime.

Again……..Thank You all so very much for your personal support and kindness/understanding on all the schedule delays and the support for my personal healing. It has meant alot to me. But it shows why we have made 16 years and why YOU are all the best Trail partners anyone could ask for!

Michigan-Night-LightsOne side note here………I personally belong to many Outdoor Groups. There are also some great ones out there. But there is just something about the HM members that make you guys stick out from the rest. Your acceptance of everyone that joins in on a Hike. Your friendliness and sharing of Trail supplies and Outdoor knowledge. This has made it  easy for anyone to just stop in here, not know anyone else, and join in on the fun of exploring Nature and all the beauty our state of Michigan has to offer. No one can make any of you do those things. You all just have done it anyways. THANKS!

VISIT US ON-LINE:   HM YOU-TUBE…….HM FACEBOOK……HM WEB SITE……HM FLICKR

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Getting Cold……What to do/What to wear??????

November 18, 2013

Technology has infiltrated almost everything we do these days. Even hitting the Trails and enjoying a Winter outdoor experience. When I was a Punk, we had leather Hi-top boots, which we coated with a substance called “Bear Greece”, for waterproofing. We used Wool socks and a Wool shirt. Pants where the most difficult item for cold conditions. We all know the rule that one NEVER wears a pair of Jeans for any outdoor adventure. The cotton base absorbs moisture, and the insulating value is ZERO!

So……with all this itchy Wool stuff, from Hats to socks, we took our primitive cloths out for a spin in the middle of winter. I have many remembrances of just plain freezing my butt off while snow shoeing or even strolling down a Trail in the snow. My Jeans would literally freeze solid on my legs. GREAT FUN!

All that has change over the last 40 years, especially more recently in the last 3-5 years now. The Synthetics have taken over. Now my boots are “GORTEX” lined, and insulated. I wear a multi-layer sock set-up, starting with a breathable pair of “POLYPROPYLENE” liner socks, topped by a combo synthetic/wool based otter sock. Warm feet is one of the Big 4 for Winter warmth.

Next is the head gear. No more solid wool hats. again, a combo of a breathable synthetic material, mixed with a wool based or POLYPROPYLENE/GORTEX material, allows one to vent your head if to hot, or cover up completely when the winter winds are blowing. This is number 2 of the Big 4, for winter Trail warmth and enjoyment.

Keeping your hands warm while out on the Trails in wintertime is another key ingredient for a full warmth set-up in the winter. We bleed away alot of heat through our hands, and if not properly warmed or heaven forbid they get wet, it could very well start the “Hypothermia”process. That is our biggest concern in the outdoors in the Wintertime. We will get back to that shortly.

The final ingredient in the Big 4 mix for keeping warm, safe and enjoying your outdoor winter experience is controlling your core body temperature. Once we loose that core body warmth while out on the winter Trails, it is hard to regain it. And that usually becomes the final stage before we start the deadly Hypothermia process.

For many years, the layering system was the best way to go out on the winter Trails. A Polypropylene first layer, followed by a wool shirt, a fleece vest and a possible fleece lined/GORTEX outer layer jacket. The GORTEX allowed for blocking the wind and wet snow, as well as letting and perspiration to wick away from our bodies. We can also vent ourselves by unzipping certain layers, or removing them all together. This is still one of my personal favorites for Winter wear.

But recently, technology has taken some huge strides for winter cloths. I am a gear nut, so I buy most of what comes out. Some things are useful and become a regular part of my outdoor wear, and other items just take up space in my closet. about 2 years ago, “COLUMBIA” came out with something called the “OMNI-HEAT & REPELLENTCY” system. This very thin material is used to line winter jackets, fleeces and almost anything these days.

On a very cold winter day, I now might just put on a single layer of POLYPROPYLENE or GORTEX combo, and slip on an OMNI-HEAT lightweight jacket. This leaves me with the maximum level of movement, with the ultimate level of warmth, wind and water protection. It is an amazing material. Once mixed with various GORTEX and POLYPROPYLENE layers, an entire winter outfit, from head-wear, to foot wear, can be put together and weigh almost nothing, and have the warmth value of 20 pounds of layered cloths.

Like Polypropylene and GORTEX, OMNI-HEAT comes in different thicknesses depending on what level of heat and protection you might be looking for, compared to what weight level of cloths you want to put on and drag along the Trails with you.

To some of you, this all may sound a bit more like Gear-head stuff, then actual Outdoor equipment selections. But once you realize how lightweight you can actually dress and still be toasty out on the Trails in winter, these high tech cloths are just wonderful! The ultimate protection from frost-bite and the killer Hypothermia, without being a “Rolly-Polly” of layered cloths, can make a big difference in how warm you are and safe you can be out in the winter snows of Michigan. Download our HIKING WINTER TIPS pdf file here.

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WINTERTips-2Hypothermia is something that can KILL. and it can come on very quickly. Sometimes without much notice, until it is to late and your miles from home base or fire or something that can save your life. It is well worth investigating these new synthetic materials for winter use. The wind and wet protection and the easy, lightweight warmth derived from these new materials, changes everything for winter fun.

The 10 ESSENTIALS for Fun and Safety out on the Trails. These 10 items was first created by a Seattle based Mountaineering group, back in the 1930s, and still stand tall to this very day. These common sense things that may seem like nothing, but are so easy to have with you, may very well be the difference between surviving and perishing out on the Trails. Always having water with you goes without saying.

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Never to Young

October 14, 2013

I was reading a short Facebook post from a friend and it contained a picture of a youngster with a HUGE smile on her face. The post went on to say that now, her niece can ID a Mallard duck and Turkey. Probably something she will never forget.

All I could think of after reading this post was the many times my parents took me out to the forest and Parks, and the trips I made with the Scouts, as a youngster. These things I still remember to this very day. They have also influenced my entire life in so many different ways.

It is never to early to take the young ones out to the Parks. I can remember an early HIKE with Hiking Michigan, in which a couple brought their 1 year old. The Dad carried the youngster in a harness back carrier. I was walking behind him, and watched as the young one just stared at everything we passed and just “Cooooed” at the Birds, Trees and Flowers. You could feel the joy just coming from this child.

I am sure she remembers these Hikes her parents took her on, one way or another. Or at least she remembers the feelings she experienced in the calming and beautiful forests she was being exposed too. Because her parents took the time and made the effort to take her there. They’re Never to Young. 🙂

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FALL COLORS

October 8, 2013

FallLeavesIt is starting to be that time of year again. When the Trees & Bushes loose their greens and change to a colorful array of reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. There are specific reasons this takes place each year. The weather of course, is the trigger. But the scientific reasons are much deeper then the mear temperature changes at this time of year. Check out our sheet on, “WHY LEAVES CHANGE COLOR”.

What also makes this Info sheet interesting, is that with the knowledge on just why the leaves change, and what Trees & Bushes produce what colors, you can almost select the Fall colors you wish to observe. If you know where there are old Oak trees, you have a good chance of seeing some brilliant red and orange colors in the leaves. Create your own Fall Colors Tour. 🙂

WhyLeavesChange

We are very lucky here in Michigan, with some of the very best Fall colors anywhere. A few of my personal favorites in Southeastern Michigan are listed in our Info sheet called……“FALL COLOR TOURS”. The sheet describes some of the best places for Fall Colors in S.E.Michigan.

By understanding some of the reasons why the leaves change color, and what trees produce what specific colors, you can go to places in the area that will please your Fall Colors experience.

ColorsTour1

For instance……..Highland Recreation area (HAVEN HILL and the NATURAL AREA) have examples of almost every tree that grows in our state. This means you will see almost every Fall color imaginable there. Seven Lakes State Park is another example of a place that has so many different tree species, that you can see almost any co,or you desire there.

In Macomb county, Metro Park, Wolcott Mill, has many old Oak and Maple trees, since the area was settled so long ago. The deep reds and yellows there, are magnificent in these older trees. In the Park and on the old Farm roads that surround the Park, you will enjoy some outstanding colors.

There are of course, many beautiful places through out Michigan to view Fall Colors. Our Info sheet on the “FALL COLORS TOUR”, will help you get started in Southeastern Michigan, with some of the very best.

Here are a few Southeastern Michigan Park Maps to help you roam a bit deeper into the Fall Colors. The maps are free and all are recently GPSed and updated.

HIGHLAND Recreation Area (Haven Hill/Natural Area)

SEVEN Lakes State Park (Near the city of Holly)

WOLCOTT Mill Metro Park & Farm Center (Macomb county)

PONTIAC Lake Recreation Area (off of M59/Highland road, near Highland Rec.)

ORTONVILLE Recreation Area (NE of the city of Ortonville)

If you are looking for more Park maps, stop in at the Hiking Michigan web site, and visit the PARKS MAP Page.

 

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New Michigan RAPTORS ID sheets

August 4, 2013

BirdSilloettesMost of the time, when we spot a Raptor in Michigan, it ends up being a silhouette of the bird flying overhead or soaring. Sometimes we get lucky and get a close enough view of the bird, to observe colors and distinct markings. So we put together an updated silhouette ID sheet for Michigan Raptors.

It is a great way to start to become familiar with what Raptors are in the area, allowing us to get closer and actually see the details of these magnificent birds. Michigan has seen an big increase in Raptors these last few years. At Stony Creek Metro Park HIKING Trails, there was an Eagles nest and a Osprey nest withing a 1/2 mile of one another.

Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as any bird that kills its prey with its talons. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. In most cases, the females are considerably larger than the males. The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word “rapere” (meaning to seize or take by force) and may refer informally to all birds of prey, or specifically to the diurnal group.

The diurnal birds of prey are formally classified into five families:

  • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
  • Pandionidae: the Osprey (sometimes classified as subfamily Pandioninae of the previous family)
  • Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
  • Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
  • Cathartidae: New world vultures including condors.

The nocturnal birds of prey – the owls – are classified separately as members of two extant families of the order Strigiformes:

  • Strigidae: (typical owls)
  • Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls).

Types of Birds of Prey

* Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
* Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish, and builds large stick nests.
* Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
* The true Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
* Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
* Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
* Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families, each occurring in only the Eastern Hemisphere (Accipitridae) or the Western (Cathartidae). Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
* Falcons are small to medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds, but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
* Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly with extremely little audible turbulence due to special feather structure and have particularly acute hearing.

Download our recently updated Michigan Raptors silhouette sheets here:

MICHIGAN RAPTORS

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New & Updated ID sheets Coming

July 25, 2013

Starting this weekend Hiking Michigan will be releasing both updated Nature ID sheets and brand new INFO sheets for everyone. We will be starting with a very updated and detailed MI. RAPTORS ID sheets. New Raptors listed and much more info to ID these Birds in the wild and just soaring overhead.

Our next updated ID sheets will be our favorite, the ANIMAL Tracks ID sheets. We have added and third ID sheet to this PDF file, as well as more Tracks, including some common Bird tracks we see along many creek shorelines.

The next sheet will be one we have been working on since Springtime. Our MI. Spring Wild Flowers ID sheets. These have completely revamped and detailed, with the help of our goof friend Kim and her excellent Spring Flower pictures.

These are  just a few of what will be posted and available to be downloaded starting this weekend from the Blog, Facebook Page and Web site. We hope you enjoy the new sheets and find them helpful while enjoying the Outdoors.

Visit our web site DOWNLOADS Page and get many PDF files for Free. Many useful ID and Outdoor INFO sheets there for your knowledge and enjoyment.  HM DOWNLOADS PAGE

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Things You MUST BE PREPARED For on the Trails

May 30, 2013

Everyone has their own personal punch list when heading outdoors. Some like a small Pack to carry all the “Stuff” they may need. Others prefer just the bare essentials. But there are a few things that EVERYONE Must address and understand to have a safe and enjoyable time outdoors on the Trails.

INSECT REPELLENTS: This is a MUST item. No matter how you do it, you have to address the problems with SKEETERS, TICKS and at times, Biting Flies. The old school method is a Repellent with over 70% DEET. Actually illegal in the USA until about 15 years or so ago, this level of DEET will surely keep both SKEETERS & TICKS away. It may also melt anything plastic or rubber you have on you as well. NO LIE.

A combination of a 30% DEET Repellent, just for some of your exposed skin and then a heavy treated clothing, with “Permethin”. This is a much less toxic way to deal with SKEETERS and TICKS. Permethrin is a synthetic form of a natural insecticide found in some flowers. It was developed to be put onto our clothing as the delivery system. And it does work!

Those Biting Flies are a category all their own. Most Repellents say they keep them at bay, but I have not found this to be true. In real Biting Fly country, the only real protection is physical netting. Some people will argue this point with me, but this is my personal opinion and experience with them nasty Biting Flies.

SUN SCREEN: Not really a concern years ago, we have learned that to much Sun is deadly. Again, there are varying opinions on what level of Sun screen is effective and what is overkill. I always purchase the highest Block number I can find. An 85, or a 110. Why play around here. Get as much Sun blocking as possible. It is better then the possible results from not getting enough Block. There very minimum should be at least a number 22 UV Block. Download our REPELLENTS & SUNSCREEN SHEET here.

DIRECTIONS: The regular Hiker should be carrying a Whistle/Compass/Light combo. It is a nice compact way to have these three essential items with you and at the ready.A good method for confirming your directions and cross-referencing North, South, East & West, is the old Stick and Shadow set up. Nothing to carry with you. During a short rest stop, you put aShadowSticks stick in the ground and a second stick or stone at the end of where the shadow falls from that first stick. You wait 15 minutes or so, and put another marker where the end of the sticks shadow is at this point. Lay a second stick across the two Marker points and that becomes your East/West line. Download our ORIENTEERING SHEETS for a more detailed explanation of this method. It works flawlessly, and is very useful at verifying even a Compass reading.

TIME: One of the most often forgotten item while heading out onto the Trails is something for telling time. Many of us like to judge that for ourselves. If you do not wish to carry a watch of some sort, there are some ways to estimate the time, and even better ways to tell almostSuntime-Dial exactly how much time before the Sun will set. This is probably your most important time understanding. When to set up your Camp or head back to the Parking lot, and how much time you have before you loose all sun-light. The SAR BARS Method is a very accurate way to tell the amount of time before the Sun will set.

SARSBar

DOWNLOAD THE SARS BAR SHEET ABOVE: HERE:

OneFingerSunAs the Sun sets closer to the horizon, and a full hand will not fit between the sun and the earth horizon, then you can start using just single fingers, as 15 minute increments. You will be surprised at how accurate this system of hands and fingers really is for telling you how much time you have before the sun sets. The time before the sun sets and you are left out on the Trails in the dark, is one of the more important bits of knowledge to have while out on the Trails.

So……there are many different critter comforts we all prefer to take with us while roaming the Trails or Parks. But these things listed here, are the items you just simply cannot forget to bring along with you. Applying Insect Repellent at the Parking lot/Trail-head is good……BUT, you must bring more Repellent along with You. The same goes for Sunscreen, Water, Whistle, Compass, and a small flash-light (halogen). Having a Garbage bag or two, folded up small, and jammed into a pocket or Camera case, are also indispensable. Those Bags have many uses out on the Trails. Quick Rain coat. Shelter starter or even a Trash collector.

Select all the extra things you wish to bring out onto the Trails with you. But do not forget the items listed here. these are not optional things. These are NECESSITIES!

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