Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hiking’

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1st Wild Flower HIKE Reviewed

May 13, 2013

BaldMFlowersNormally we do not schedule Hikes on a Holiday weekend. It conflicts with various family obligations and gatherings, and that is not what we are about here. But……we received so many requests to do a Wild Flower HIKE on Saturday, May 11th, the day before Mothers Day, that we thought it would be OK to do something short and local that maybe even Mom could come and enjoy.

About 18 people showed up for an interesting day in weather and Flowers. So did 6 Doggie friends as well. Now……it is a testament to all you HM members, that after 15 years of exploring Southeastern Michigan, your Group has grown to over 6,000 members, of which some 35-80 of you attend almost every Hike we schedule. Pretty amazing to have 80 people on a Hike. Even having 40 people is pretty overwhelming.

That is why the 18 members and Doggie friends who showed up, made this Hike very similar BaldMountainFlowers1to the way Hikes went, when the Group was young and had around a couple of thousand members. We would get 12-20 Hikers joining in at every Hike.

It is a much different dynamic when there is under 20 Hikers participating. Everyone gets a chance to speak with everyone else at the Hike. There are EXCELLENT conversations on many outdoor subjects, especially IDing the different Flowers, Plants and creatures we come across on the Trails. Now this also takes place on every Hike. BUT…..the difference is that all 18 Hikers would do a communal discussion on a discovered Flower. Some had ID sheets, others had ID Books and others just carried their knowledge and experience. Whatever was the input, almost everyone had input, which made each Flower stop along the Trails and extremely learned one.

No Flower or plant was left un-IDed before the end of the Hike. Flower ID discussions also turned into other outdoor conversations connecting the various Flowers, Plants and experiences together. EVERYONE’s experiences. Because the Group was small enough, Everyone got a chance to express their opinions, comments and experiences, while they had the attention of the rest of the 18 people hiking with them.

The pack of Doggie friends were very interesting factor at the Hike too. They all got along admirably, and you could see the enjoyment and even smiles on their faces through out the Hike. 🙂

The Hike quickly became a Hike of old friends. I do not believe anyone did not feel this same way. You can feel the vibe in the Group when this happens in this manner. I believe that everyone feels its too. Even the 5 additional people who arrived a bit late for the Hike, yet alone on the Trails, tracked the Group down. CONGRATS on both the abilities to find us and the determination to keep looking until you did discover our whereabouts. 🙂 Well Done Explorers!

The HIKE pictures are about 70% from a new member….Majd, and the rest are from Kevin, Jeanine and myself. We will be repeating the Spring Wild Flowers HIKE in the next week or so, for those who missed this last minute scheduled HIKE. It was mainly talked about on Facebook;s HIKING MICHIGAN’s PAGE. BUT…..everyone on the official web site Hiking Groups email list, received an email announcement on the Thursday before the Hike. You cannot always depend on Facebook for our HIKE schedule. YES….we get most of the Hikes posted there. But the guaranteed place to make sure you get a notice of each and every HIKE, and nothing else, is by being an official member and on our emails list.

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It only takes an email to me, Rob Golda, through our web site at: http://www.HikingMichigan.com        Just drop us that email, tell us which Hiking Group you wish to join (the S.E.MI. Group, or the Hiking North/Central group) and let us know the county you live in, so we can better schedule Hikes near to the majority of the members. That;s it. YOU will NEVER miss a HIKE Notice, ever again.

Also wanted to let everyone know that we will be starting something new next week. It is our SECRET HIKES PROGRAM. These special scheduled Hikes will be to places not know by anyone, or by very few people. They are special Nature places and environments I have personally kept secret for up to 30 years now. The first 15 people to email in a reservation to these HIKEs announcements, will be invited to join in. 15 people maximum. In some cases that total will drop to 10 people only. To not disturb the local wildlife and environments. We will be visiting and exploring rare environments, Lost Islands, secret paths, Trails and Hiking areas that almost know one really know about. Some very true Explorations.

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CICADAS……their back

May 7, 2013

The sewing bug is what we used to call the Cicadas as kids. We also used to tell the local girls that they would sew their fingers together, so they better run indoors. I know…..pretty mean…..but they had Koodies, so it didn’t matter. 🙂

cicadasAs a kid we seldom ever seen these creatures. They lived high in what where huge Elm trees in the neighborhood, then. We would only hear them buzzing or humming away. Very mysterious for even a kid. But they are returning this year in a big way. It is time for the big hatch in the 17 year Cicadas.

Many years we hear Cicadas. Different species reproduce at different times and not every year. So at some times we hear them everywhere, and other years we may wonder where they went. Cicadas are a flying, plant sucking insect that emerges in period cycles. Nymphs suck juices from roots of plants. Egg laying females cause significant damage to trees during their brief, adult stage. They are not harmful to humans, and do not bite or “sew” in any way. Their damage is to the plants and Trees.

Cicada2The 17 year Cicadas will be digging their way from beneath the ground, below your favorite tree, crawling up that tree, changing it’s form, mating and then crawling back down the tree to bury themselves in the ground beneath the trees. Those strange small mounds of piled-up earth around your favorite Hardwood tree is probably a Cicada digging it’s way out from it’s many year home underground. This is the short story version of the Cicada.

There are two basic types of Cicadas:

2-8 year Periodic cycle – These insects “seem” to appear every year in some areas, because their life cycle is staggered. Actually, a different brood is hatching each year to make it seem like they are annual.

13 to 17 year cycle – This group does not appear every year. When they do emerge, it is huge numbers. They are sometimes called “17 Year  Locusts”. Although, they are not related to locusts at all.

Cicada3While the Cicada’s life span may be as long as 17 years, they spend almost all of their lives underground. Cicada nymphs emerge from the ground in periodic cycles. They climb up trees and quickly shed their skins(molt). An adult, flying cicada emerges. The adult Cicadas’ entire purpose in life is to mate and produce offspring. You can hear the males’ mating “song” from early morning to nightfall. In heavily infested areas, the noise can be quite disturbing. About five to ten days after mating, the female lands on twigs of deciduous trees, cuts slits in them, and lays her eggs in the slit. Adults do not eat. Rather, damage to trees is caused by the adult female as she cuts slices in twigs to lay her eggs. Shortly after mating, the male Cicada dies.The eggs hatch, producing tiny nymphs that fall to the ground. These nymphs burrow into the soil and feast on underground roots. They remain there for years, slowly growing, until their periodic cycle calls them to emerge again as adults.

Normally the Cicadas do minimal damage, but the 17 year Cicada, the one due out this year, can reproduce in the millions and cause extensive damage to so many different Hardwood trees, and plants. There is much to be concerned about here. They can be very devastating to what is already stressed ecosystems here in Michigan.

An excellent web site operated by the University of Michigan, called, CICADAS OF MICHIGAN, is an excellent resource for Cicadas. All ten species of Cicadas located in Michigan are represented on this site, as well as Audio recordings of all these different species.

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So Who gets the Baton?

May 6, 2013

I was talking with a lifetime Role Model of mine. Yes……even at my age, I have Role Models. We all need to be checking our own actions up against something or someone. We need those “Touchstones” to know if we are heading down the correct Trail, and not the bad Pathway.

This Role Model Individual of mine happens to be a longtime Scout Master. I actually have a couple of Role models that are Scout Masters. I do not think it is a coincidence either. Our conversation was about who do we pass the Nature Baton off too. We are both getting up there in age and those thoughts become more prevalent as you see time running out, little by little.

FireStarterBoth of us have spent the last 20 years or so doing as much Outdoor Volunteer work as we could possibly handle and still remain responsible adults and family members. Dave through Scouting and myself through Hiking Michigan have sponsored and organized literally countless Events and Outdoor activities for all ages. Many focused on educated or giving children an outdoor experience. Yet both of us felt like there was no Baton being passed along.

Yes…….we have both put together some very Fun and educational Events for the Kids. Dave much more then me through Scouting. We both have seen up to 100 children attend a specific Outdoor activity or Event and everyone enjoyed the experience. But what we were talking about to one another had nothing to do with just having Fun. That is not what success was being judged by here.

If you through enough money at something, or even work hard enough to sponsor or organize an Outdoor Event, it is not that hard to get 100 kids to show up with parents and/or family members. But in the big picture that really doesn’t mean a real lot. We are talking lifetimes here. The next Generation. Not just a Fun afternoon.

We are not nurturing new Leaders. We are not giving these children an outdoor experience influential enough to turn their lives into something different or special by dedicating THEIR lives to THEIR generation and it’s understanding of the Natural world and it’s importance to us and the entire world.

Troop-139_Scouts-8647-copyIt starts with Mom & Dad. They have the greatest influence on the children. Mine taught me the greatest respect for the Natural world. Enough that it has stuck with me until this very day. But besides the parents it then takes dedicated individuals, usually Volunteers, because this kind of caring and nurturing does not pay alot of money if anything at all. In fact……these days, the money part mostly contaminates the experiences for the children. They do not learn much when the leader or Instructor is trying to just further their career, advance their Non Profit group or make more money for their own business. The children can learn those things at school or out in the business world.

The Natural world links us all through our hearts and spirits, and not our egos. Children see this very quickly. They know when the adult, Leader or Instructor is there for the money, Career or alternative motive, and not for the true love of the Natural world or the want to show THEM the beauties and wonders that make up EVERYTHING on our planet.

As Dave and I talked about all of this further, we wondered if all of these outside and bad examples where not already poorly influencing the children. How many times can you try and fool the Kids before they just give up on it ever being real, or the truth. They will not say anything to you about it directly, but the determinations from the examples they have been shown, have already been made by them inside. Now the battle starts back at convincing them that Nature is important. That it is not just a way to make yourself popular or make a big career for yourself as they have been shown up to this point in time.

It gets pretty hard to move forward starting so far back. BUT…….it can be done. IT IS being done. Both Dave and myself have seen it, still see it and know that it is still possible under all the past bad Pathways, Electronic sideshows, and poor leaders that have been danced in front of these kids.

KidsBirds copyMaybe rather then saying we have had a big successful outdoor Children’s Event, when 100 kids show up. We should rather feel more successful when we have the same amount of time and energy spent on 6 children for the afternoon or weekend. All that time to answer every one of their questions. Show them everything they wanted to see. Let THEM hand feed the Birds……Let THEM turn over that rock, see what they find and examine what is there with them for how ever long they want to spend there.

It seems that with 100 children attending an Outdoor Event an no one to pass the Baton too, and 6 children attending an Outdoor Experience and just maybe every single one of them being influenced in such a positive way that they too will influence others their own age with the same excitement as they have felt from their experience, is something we then can consider passing the Baton too. Better yet……they take the Baton from us on their own.

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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.

StreamsideAnimalTracks ForestAnimalTracks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Ticks2 Ticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SpringFlowers-1 SpringFlowers-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Finally Flowers!

April 24, 2013

Inbetween the 70 degree days and the 35 degree days with light snow flurries, the Spring flowers have finally started to push their way up through the madness. We went for a couple of exploratory Hikes to see just what is starting to happen in our local Parks.

Sprouts are starting almost everywhere. Not in an extreme manner, but still starting non the less. We actually need about a week of temperatures above 50 degrees and it will all just break loose. Until then, it will be a slow process.

RedTrillium

A rare RED Trillium. Rare for this far north.

We found certain places that had alot of south facing hillsides to be the most productive right now. The extra warmth there are instigating many different flowers to start their Spring blooming. Even many of the bushes and trees are moving very slowly at budding and blooming. I cannot imagine the strain on many of the returning migrating Birds.

The Blooms and warmer weather that instigates the Spring Flowers, also help to start up the insect populations. These returning Birds need these insects for a food source as they build their nests for this years youngsters. The pressure must be great on many of these other critters as well. All of whom depend upon certain plant life and insects to be coming alive right now to feed their long winter appetites, or in preparations for their new youngsters.

Take a Hike and look closely. You will see that the Flowers are trying, the insects are just starting up and in the right locations the bushes and trees are budding and waking up from winter.

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We found many Trout Lillies leaves, but no blooms yet. The same went for Trilliums and Blood Root. We are right on the edge of it all taking off.

DOWNLOAD A BASIC SPRING FLOWERS ID SHEETS HERE:

SpringFlowers-1SpringFlowers-2

Trillium

White Trillium

Blue

StarFlower

A Star Flower

Buttercup

A Buttercup

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Nature Running Behind

April 23, 2013

I have been comparing some notes and dates from the last few years and noticed we are quite a few weeks behind in many things happening. Although alot of the Birds are Migrating, there are still many behind schedule.

TrilliumThis time last year and the year before we where doing a Spring Wild Flower Hike out at Bald Mountain Recreation area. One of the better places to experience early Wild Flowers. That would be in the South Unit, just north of Greenshield road, outside the main Park/Beach area. We are still about two weeks away from all the early Spring Flowers to be blooming everywhere. Especially Trilliums. I have seen a few Trout Lillies, Blood Root and Spring Beauties, but nothing like what should be taking place compared with previous seasons and dates.

The first and second weeks in May where tremendous Morel hunting times the last two years.HugeMorelPatchStonyCr In fact…..I joined in on a Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club Morel Hike the second week in May and Hit the jackpot out at Stony Creek Metro Park. I would have to Kill you if I told you where we hunted. 🙂 But we where already past many of the early Spring Flower Blooms, the Grass was solid green EVERYWHERE, and all the trees where either budded or had young leaves growing.

There is much we are far behind on through out the entire state. heck…..in the middle of the lower peninsula there is still extensive snow on the ground and it snowed just a few days ago on April 19th. I worry about things like this. Nature has timetables that need to be kept for things to happen properly. Certain insects need to hatch at a particular time of year to feed the new hatchlings of Birds and young Frogs WaterSkimmerand Turtles. Not having warm enough weather to produce these insects in the great quantities needed to feed all these different species can be Catastrophic to all of them. And this is just one small example of how Natures Timetables are so very important.

It is not just if these things take place in the outdoors, but WHEN they take place in Nature. Unless things start to change drastically, and soon, I fear we will be having a very strange and unpredictable Summer in Michigan, with many repercussions from just simple things not taking place at the right Times. This still remains to be seen, but it is not looking good right now.

NLMoths-Thistle

Yes….Nature is resilient and makes adjustments for these kinds of Timing slips and changes.But when they start to happen annually, and at different times each year, it just plain throughs off EVERYTHING. We need about two straight weeks of over 60 degree daytime temperatures, and 40 degree nighttime Temps. to Kick-start it all moving again. And we need that NOW. Right NOW. Lets all hope Mother Nature gets the things and Timing back in sync once again and the balance returns to the many diverse ecosystems that make up our Beautiful state of Michigan.

It is time for all life to be awakening and in coexistence with one another for it to all be happening correctly. We need these Natural timetables, and we need them to happening on a pretty regular basis each year at around the same times.

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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.

GroupCampfireTalk

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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Bird Feeding HIKE Reviewed

April 21, 2013

We had a wonderful Hike at Kensington on Saturday, 4/20/13! Most of the Hike we had the sun peaking out, but then for the last short part along the far side of the Lake, the wind made it a bit cold. No real big deal though. There was so much going on and so many Fun Hikers, that it just didn’t matter. 🙂

We fed the birds all the way around the Lake Trail. Couldn’t get the bigger birds to come in though. Lots of Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmouses. Cardinals and Flickers where waiting in the close distance, but would not come in close enough. Sand Hill Cranes were roaming the forest along the Trails too. The Heron Island was quite busy with activity. We even say an Osprey soaring down to the old Hacking Tower on the Lake.

The Nature Center was just packed with various Groups meetings. The local Astronomers where there. The Park had a Garlic Mustard Pull taking place. Audubon members where doing an Outdoor Photography sessions, not to mention many individuals just there to enjoy the Nature Trails as we were.

If you have not experienced Hand feeding birds while hiking out on the Nature Trails, it is something you should head out to do. A very relaxing and enjoyable time, and something you just do not get the chance to do very often, anywhere.

A big part of our Hike was not just the Bird feeding, but all the great discussions on Nature and the Outdoors. This Hike in particular was exceptional in this way. So many different people with knowledge on so many different areas of Nature. It always makes for an interesting Hike when almost everyone is participating in some way. Just like one big Group of old friends. The best kind of Hike to have. 🙂

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4/20/13 Hand Bird Feeding @ Kensington

April 15, 2013

KensingtonWe will be doing what is becoming an annual Hike around Wildwing lake at Kensington Metro Park Nature Trails, this Saturday, 4/20/13 at 12 Noon. We will be meeting at the Nature Center where the Trail begins and ends.

There is alot to see and do along this 2 mile Trail. near the beginning of the Trail, in the woods on the western side of the Lake, hides the infamous White Squirrel. He has been spotted a number of times there. We hope to get some pictures of this guys on our Hike.

As we move down the Trail, there are a number of stops where Hand feeding the local BirdsKensingtonNature have become an easy thing, and something you will not soon forget. There is something very unique and special in hand feeding wild birds out on the Trails. The Nature Center sells seeds for this purpose, and we will have some on hand for the Hikers. Peanut halves, black oiler sunflower and safflower are commonly used. The black oiler sunflower seeds and peanut halves are winners with the birds.

As we make our way around the Lake we will come across the Osprey Hacking Tower and Fishing/Nesting platforms in the Lake. The Ospreys have just started to return to the area from their wintering grounds.

Further up the Trails and we will see the Heron Island. With approximately 10 nests, these Great Blue Herons have found a safe home on this small island out in the Lake. Herons started returning to S.E.Michigan in March, so most of the nests should have mating pairs of Herons sitting on nests.

Come on out and join us for this Bird packed Hike at Kensington. It is always a great time Hand Feeding wild birds and there is so much more to see and do as well. Hope to see you all there on Saturday. Everyone is welcome to join in. 🙂

DOWNLOAD A FLYER FOR THIS HIKE WITH MORE DETAILS

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DOWNLOAD A PARK MAP WITH THE TRAILS AND FEATURES INDICATED HERE:

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Mushroom Fairy Rings

April 15, 2013

There are just so many different kinds and types of Mushrooms out there. All kinds of colors, shapes and sizes. I love examining every Mushroom I come across out on the Trails. But I follow a VERY IMPORTANT RULE. Never eat any Mushroom you find, while out in the field. Even most of the very experienced Mushroom Hunters will follow this Rule.

I have Hiked many times with the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, and they repeat this Rule, over and over again. There are so many look-a-like mushrooms out there. Some are edible and a very similar looking mushroom can be deadly. The only true way of determining the identification of a mushroom is with a Spore print. This requires one to take that mushroom home and do a short test on making a print of the mushroom and then matching that print to a known print of a specific mushroom. Like a finger print, a mushroom spore print will positively identify a specific mushroom with out a doubt. The difference maybe an enjoyable, tasty meal, or sickness and possible death. Do not play around with identifying mushrooms.

SweatBread

A Sweatbread gilled mushroom

An interesting thing you may come across if you are lucky enough, is what is called a “Fairy Ring”. “Gilled” mushrooms and some Puff Balls will grow in an Arch form or in a complete circle. It is an amazing sight to see a natural growing plant, that has formed in some cases, a perfect circle. All the mushrooms grow in that circle and that is it. They are not spread out randomly, all over the area, but rather, they grow just next to one another to form this almost perfect circle.

The old story goes like this……..Fairies grow these certain Mushrooms in these secret, perfect circles. A Troll will bury his gold treasure at the center of these rare circles. The Fairies guard the circles and the Gold buried at the center of these circle, for the Trolls. Should a human discover one of these perfect mushroom circles, we have two options. One is to go to the center of the circle and dig up the Trolls Gold buried there. Be careful, because the Fairies are guarding this Gold for the Troll.

Fairy

Your second option is to leave the Trolls Gold alone, and he will grant you one wish. You are to go to the center of the Fairy Ring and close your eyes, while you make a single wish. You then must leave the area and not reveal the mushroom Fairy Rings location to anyone or the wish will not come true. And you will have to be very careful whenever returning to that area of the Forest, for those Fairies will remember that you have broken the trust of revealing the location of the Ring to others.

FairyRingPano

This is how the old story goes. The biggest problem is in finding one of the perfect circle Fairy Rings. There are many semi-circles, and Arches and partial circles out there. these are Fairies busy at work completing the full circles. It takes many years to perfect a perfect Fairy Ring circle. But when once completed, the Troll will then bury his treasure there, and not until then.

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