Morning on the North Country Trail

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Hacking Site Camping Trip, February 2017-25, photo by Nathan Miller

Nathan took this photo in the Ottawa National Forest’s Trap Hills along the North Country Trail in winter.The Trail winds 4600 miles through 7 states in America’s northern heartland. It is our longest National Scenic Trail, stretching from New York to North Dakota. Michigan holds more of the North Country Trail than any other state:

Entering Michigan from Ohio the first completed segment of NCT is within the Lost Nation State Game Area near Pittsford.  The route then threads through a mix of forest and farm country and is a mix of road walks and completed segments. Off-road trail exists in Fort Custer National Cemetery (near Battle Creek), Yankee Springs State Recreation Area (near Hastings) Middleville and Barry State Game Areas.  In Lowell, hikers can walk down East Main Street and stop in at North Country Trail headquarters to purchase some official trail gear.  Heading north from Lowell, hikers will travel through two more areas with built trail before arriving at the southern boundary of the Manistee National Forest. These include the Lowell State Game Area/Fallasburg County park segment just outside of the city of Lowell and the Rogue River Game Area near Rockford.

Hikers get their first glimpse of the Northwoods in the Manistee National Forest.  Within Manistee National Forest, enjoy sandy soils that support a pine-hardwood forest and great hiking along the Manistee River Trail, which forms a great loop hike opportunity.  The NCT leaves the Manistee National Forest near the Hodenpyl Dam Pond which features a fabulous new (2009) trail along the Hodenpyl Dam Pond and Manistee River.  Continuing south of Traverse City to Kalkaska the NCT is routed through state forest land (the Pere Maruette SF) which offer a number of year round recreation opportunities.  The next jewel along the NCT is the Jordan River Pathway, which offers a scenic loop hike near Alba.  From here the trail heads towards Petoskey through the Mackinac State Forest.  North of Petoskey wonderful hiking opportunities exist in Wilderness State Park, where the trail follows the Lake Michigan shoreline. As one leaves Wilderness State Park and heads towards Mackinaw City the lights of Mackinac Bridge become visible.

…The U.P.’s prime scenery includes large lakes, old growth forests, rugged hills and the Lake Superior shoreline, all set amid some of the most remote, uninhabited country found on the North Country Trail.  From St. Ignace the trail heads through the eastern unit of the Hiawatha National Forest towards Tahquamenon Falls State Park (home to the second largest waterfall in the eastern United States).  Continuing west, the trail passes through Muskallonge Lake State Park and Lake Superior State Forest towards Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Within Pictured Rocks, enjoy the 43-mile Lakeshore Trail along the Lake Superior shore, one of the greatest hits of the entire North Country Trail.  West of Pictured Rocks the trail enters the western unit of the Hiawatha National Forest passing through public and private lands before reaching Marquette.  West of Marquette the trail passes through Presque Isle City Park, McCormick tract Wilderness, Craig Lake State Park, Copper Country State Forest, Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness and cuts through historic copper mining sites near Old Victoria.  Once entering the Ottawa National Forest segments run along the Black River canyon, towards the wild country of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The NCT leaves Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the community of Ironwood.

Read on for more at the North Country Trail website, including maps!

View Nathan’s photo bigger and see more in his North Country Trail Camping Trip, February 2017 slideshow.

High and Dry in the Leland Harbor

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High and Dry, photo by Mark Smith

Here’s a cool shot by Mark Smith of the Leland, Michigan harbor mouth that has become choked with sand through the actions of Lake Michigan. The spot where he’s standing is normally 10 feet deep, effectively blocking access to the harbor. Despite federal responsibility for the harbor, things were looking dire as no federal funds were forthcoming for a project that usually costs over $150,000.

The story has a happy ending as the harbor is buying their own dredge – click that link to read more on Leelanau.com.

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in Mark’s Leland slideshow.

 

Wyandotte Waterfront Nuclear Sunrise

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Wyandotte Waterfront Nuclear Sunrise, photo by 1adamtwelve

“….when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It’s so beautiful.”
-Forrest Gump

Adam shares that this photo was captured at sunrise along Wyandotte’s waterfront while he was flirting with Mother Nature, something I think we could probably all use more of.

You can view this bigger and see more in Adam’s slideshow. One note – there are  few tasteful boudoir shots in there, so if that’s something you’d rather not see, don’t click the link!

Alley Adventures, Grand Rapids Edition

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Alley Adventures, photo by Jerry James

Jerry writes Tonight’s image is brought to you by the darker side of reality. Things are not always sunsets and rainbows. Shot taken with the Olympus EM5 Mark II and the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye in grand rapids, Michigan

View his photo bigger, view work and read his thoughts on his website, and definitely check out Jerry’s slideshow for more!

A flower a day for February: Lily

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Lily, photo by Joel Dinda

Joel’s Flower a Day for February project began with a flower a day for January of 2006 2013 and then (because February usually isn’t warm enough to grow lilies) moved to February for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in Joel’s A Flower a Day for February (x10) slideshow.

The Jaws of Point Betsie

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The Jaws of Point Betsie, photo by Kristina Lishawa Photography

Sweet shot of Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, the Point Betsie Light just north of Frankfort. Kristina writes:

Ordinarily, someone trying to take a photo from this angle would be pounded mercilessly into the break wall by crashing waves. Lake Michigan granted me an unusually calm window in which to see Point Betsie from a new perspective.

View the photo bigger, follow Kristina Lishawa Photography on Facebook, and view and purchase prints on her website at kristinalishawa.com.

Black Bear Boom!

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Black Bear & Cub, photo by Mark Miller

The Detroit Free Press reports that the black bear population is booming in northern Michigan:

The black bear population has risen 29 percent in the region since 2012 and almost 50 percent since 2000, according to wildlife management specialist Kevin Swanson of the Department of Natural Resources.

Swanson says complaints about nuisance bears are increasing, especially in the Baldwin management unit, which extends from Muskegon County north to Leelanau County. Mlive.com says Swanson recently told the state Natural Resources Commission the bear harvest should be increased significantly in the Baldwin area.

He says the Upper Peninsula population has grown by a more manageable 11 percent since 2012. There are about 9,700 bears in the U.P. and over 15,000 statewide. Swanson is proposing a quota increase from 5,806 in 2016 to 5,925 for the 2017-18 season.

About the photo, Mark says: After yelling a quick “hey” at mama to get her to turn around, there was a moment that I wondered if I had done a dumb thing. I was about the same distance from the house, as she was to me (100 yds.) I guess me and my Nikon didn’t pose much of a threat, as they slowly went on their way.

View the photo bigger and see more in his In My Backyard slideshow.

PS: I realize that back in May of 2015, I featured another photo of this pair along with general info about black bears in Michigan.