Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Hiking’

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Trail Lessons Re-Learned

May 29, 2013

Over the Memorial weekend, we organized a small group of Hikers and did a special place that does not get much maintenance. The Trails were overgrown, and in many places, non-existent. At one point during the Hike, were the group of 10 of us were actually Bushwhacking and taking pictures, three of us wandered a bit away from the main group.

We decided to circle back to where we left the group and connect back up. I lingered for a moment to take some further pictures and then discovered I was alone with no Trails. I attempted to continue to circle and follow what I thought was the route the other 3 Hikers had taken to reconnect to the main group.

After about 15 minutes, I stopped again and realized I could not hear or see either group. I started to use my Boy Scout whistle. It is a frequency that cuts through almost everything, to carry for over a mile. Normally. But with the very thick foliage everywhere, it apparently was not getting through to anyone. I yelled a few times in-between my whistle blows in every direction. No response.

So I headed back to where the smaller group had originally broken away from the main group. I found the spot and no one was there. I continued to blow my whistle and yell in every direction. I listened……Nothing.

So now, it had been over 45 minutes since I last heard or seen anyone from the group. I made my way back to what was our original Trail into the area. It was only kinda like at Trail. Still very overgrown. As I walked back down this Trail to our starting point, I would blow my whistle and listen constantly. Still nothing in response. At the car, I re-hydrated, took a short rest and listened carefully back into the confined area we where Hiking in. Not a human sound to be heard.

I headed back down the original trail and was going to cover the exact route we had taken earlier in the day. About 1/2 mile down the trail, I run into the entire rest of the group. About 2 minutes before we re-connected, I could hear them yelling. I whistles back. When we met a couple of minutes later, No one in the group had heard my whistle, just minutes before up the trail. Apparently the deep/heavy foliage was trapping the sound and it was not traveling very far.

We stopped there on the trail and compared notes. The group had been doing similar things that I was doing. Blowing whistles and yelling in every direction. I did not hear them and they never heard my calls as well. So what are some of the lessons here?

1. Even though this was a special hiking group, made up of all experienced Trails individuals, “I” should have never left the main group, being the leader of this Hike. NEVER. That is what started the entire situation. Just a bit of lax behaviour that got way out of control.

2. The main group should never have split up again, even after it had lost the leader. For a short time there was the danger of having a second person or persons, also disconnected from the main group.

3. Although this was a very experienced group of Hikers, and everyone eventually figured out just where they were, and the problem of being Lost was not an issue. The bigger problem of not finding one of the Hikers, and having that lone hiker hurt himself while being alone, could have turned this small problem into a nightmare. Injured and alone, “I” could have laid in the thick foliage, off of any main trail, for over a day or so to be eventually found by a search party. And that is what it would have taken to find me, if injured in this thick/dense area.

***It gets very easy for even the most experienced of Hikers, to forget the basic Rules of Group hiking. ALWAYS Stay together. Even with one member lost, the group needs to remain together rather then multiple their problems by splitting up. ALWAYS make arrangements for a meeting place out on the Trails or especially while Bushwhacking in dense Forest terrain. ALWAYS carry a whistle. If the group all had their own whistles, the odds of the lost member hearing one of the calls increases greatly. ALWAYS carry a Compass.

Just like the importance of carrying extra Water on a Hike, just for occasions like this one. Or that stash of additional Insect Repellent.(the area was so thick with foliage that the SKEETERS where, at times, in swarming mode. This can be very distracting) Some additional things MUST be added to your regular Hiking gear and routine, when you will be Bushwhacking. Thick forest foliage, intense Insect behaviour, and the ease at which the entire Group can get turned around, increases tremendously in a Bushwhacking scenario.

Never figure that you know so much about the outdoors that there is no need for discussions with the rest of your Group. Emergencies happen. And when they do, those advanced discussions can be the saving Grace. You NEVER know to much and you NEVER can remember it all.

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INWOOD Hiking Trails/Stony Creek

May 20, 2013

For over 20 years, the land north of Inwood road and Stony Creek Nature Area was an active Gravel Pit. The land was leased to the Gravel company by the Metro Parks. When the lease was up, about 10 years ago, the Metro Parks took possession once again.

RosieBridge

They put alot of time and money into clearing out what the Gravel pitters had left behind. Concrete piles, scrap metals, 55 gallon drums and all types of heavy debris. After years of cleaning up the mess that was left there, Stony Creek Metro Park developed a HIKING Trails area, with ponds and marked trails totaling miles. They did a great job of cleaning out the area. Then it was Mother Natures turn. As the area kinda sat there for the last 5 years or so, Mom got busy with reclaiming her world.

MamaEagleNow, one can Hike the Trails there and see Eagles nests, Osprey nest, Owls nests, Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Massasagua rattle snakes. Yes……the area has many of them. But being cautious, it can be a very unique experience to see a Massasagua snake in the wild. Or how about a pair of nesting Eagles. Relax on one of the resting benches along the Trail and observe the Eagles feeding their youngster. Or check out the Osprey nest. This Osprey was one of the youngsters released many years ago from the Osprey Program at Stony Creek, with the help of many dedicated Volunteers.

Look closely as you travel the Trails and spot one of the many Owls nests. Or again…..observeBestOsprey closely as you travel the area and you may spot one of the Kits from the local Fox den in the Park. There is much to see and experience in this secluded area of the Park.

Some precautions should be taken for being aware of the Massasagua snakes, and wearing some DEET repellent for SKEETER and TICK protection. But those are things we all should be doing no matter what Trails in any Park we maybe Hiking these days.

You can easily spend most of the day Hiking the Trails there and never crossing a road or maybe even not seeing another person. It is very easy, as you get deeper into the Hiking area, to get some very private Nature experiences.

CraneRunSo get on out to the INWOOD HIKING Trails, north of Inwood road and Stony Creek Nature Study area, and experience and area packed with Birds and wildlife. It is almost hard to believe that this place was a Gravel Pit for so many years, and has been reclaimed by the hard work of the Metro Parks and Mother Nature. ENJOY!!!!!!!!

Please read the article below about the huge increase in TICKS we are experiencing in Southeastern Michigan. With some advanced planning, in most cases you will not have any problems or anything to be concerned about. BE PREPARED! The Boy Scouts motto.

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Download a new Map of the INWOOD HIKING TRAILS here.

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TICKS……They’re back again

May 15, 2013

TickFingerI know I have written about Ticks many times here and in the HM NewLetter, but I cannot talk about them enough. With all the precautions and Insect Repellent, Flash-lights, whistles and things we carry out on the Trails or keep in our Car Hiking Kits, a Tick remover and just plain checking ourselves is something on the top of the list of Hiking preventions.

On our last Hike, Spring Flowers at Bald Mountain, we discovered the Ticks have returned and are out on the Trails. I was walking down our final Trail leg when a fellow Hiker said…….Rob…..Stop. He said it in a way that made me realize it was important, so I froze on the Trail. He pulled out his “Multi-Tool” and with the Pliers, slowly removed a Tick that was crawling up my back towards a Ticks favorite spot. The warm, moist area around my neck/hair-line.

Michael then removed the Tick and killed it. We laughed for a moment with the understandingCommonTicks that there are millions of Ticks and he had just eliminated ONE. But that was one less Tick available to bite someone else. Really now…..He could have just brushed the Tick from my back, but he wanted to not have that Tick jump onto someone else, further back in the line of Hikers.

When we returned to the Parking area we did the infamous “Tick Dance”. A simple task that can be so very valuable in preventing a Tick infestation. We all shook-off our clothing, took our fingertips and rubbed through our hair, hair-line and under and around our socks. These are the most likely spots a Tick will invade our privacy. They like those warm, moist places on us, so that is where they usually head once they have dropped or jumped onto our bodies.

Doing these checks after a Hike can very often stop what could have been a bad situation, later. Getting a Tick removed before it has started to bite or even shortly after it has started to bite into us can be very important. My personal regiment for heading outdoors and being as protected as possible is a covering of DEET Insect repellent over 30%. I always shower after an outdoors experience of any sort. And of course there is the Tick Dance there in the Parking lot, and more checks during my shower.

Ticks carry a number of diseases and problems. Some of which can be extremely harmful if the Tick is left un-noticed, un-removed and allowed to run it’s full cycle. This is true for our Doggie friends out on the Trail too. They are even more susceptible to getting a Tick then we are. They are closer to the ground and brush up more foliage then we do while out on the Trails.

The best kind of Tick Remover

The best kind of Tick Remover

On a North/Central HIKE last year, the entire Group did the Tick Dance after the Hike. Everyone was clean. But the Dogs were not. One had 6 Ticks and the other had 8 Ticks. Working together we removed all of them. Cannot even imagine what this did for the health of these Dogs.

You are not going to die if you get a Tick, but the problems you may experience and the possible diseases you may get from a Tick bite is worth these small things to stop it from happening. It is all well worth the efforts to not get a Tick bite for you or your Dog.

There has been a huge increase in Tick activity the last three years. No one is exactly sure why this is so, but their numbers have increased and even the early arrival times have been pushed up in the seasons. Obviously from our May 11th Hike experience with a Tick, they are no longer appearing in the late summer when it is much warmer and humid outdoors.

Ticks1What ever the reasons maybe, it is always a small task, taking little time, to check yourself and Doggie out, after any venture into the local Parks and Trails. If you think because you are on a Bike, you cannot get a Tick, that is not so. They will drop from a branch or jump up from a bush or the ground and still attach themselves to you. So ANY trip to the Trails requires a quick check for prevention.

Download our TICK ID Sheets and get some of the basics on Tick ID and proper removal. Proper removal is very important if you do find a Tick on yourself or your Doggie.

Our Friends with the North Country Trails have recommended an excellent web site for IDing and removing Ticks. Check out this web site here. This is another excellent site for prevention of Tick Bites altogether. CDC Tick Prevention.

A great ID Info sheet on Michigan’s most common Ticks is something everyone should read. You can download this PDF file here. Michigan Common Ticks.

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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.

MichiganRaptors

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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