Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Trails’

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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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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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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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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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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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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:

The10-Essentials

Go-Hiking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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