My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Some random, and some not so random thoughts

I have been adding more to the Hiking Places page, I hope to have all the local ones done in the next week or so, then I’ll move on to the ones up north.

Speaking of up north, I want to go, NOW! I can’t wait for winter to end so I can go fishing and exploring up north again. I don’t mind winter, I like it in fact, but come this time every year, I am over it and want spring, which is my favorite time of year to get here. Doesn’t look like that is happening soon though.

Some encouraging signs, the birds are going nuts getting ready to start breeding soon, I hear more of them singing everyday. I did notice yesterday that a maple tree was dripping a lot of sap from where it had been damaged this winter by the snowplows, so I assume the people who tap maples to make maple syrup have already done so. I am also seeing the flower buds in the trees starting to swell, always a sure sign spring is just around the corner. All trees flower, but the flowers are typically so small that most people don’t notice them, but they are there, and they are getting ready to bloom.

The bad news is we’re supposed to be stuck in a colder than normal pattern for at least a couple of more weeks. The deer are not doing too badly, but if this weather doesn’t change soon, it won’t be good for them. I saw a couple of them stripping bark off from brush last night while I was working, and that is never a good sign. Bark doesn’t have much nutrition to it, and if that’s what deer are feeding on, it could mean they are being pushed to the limit.

I am planning a number of trips to the Muskegon area as soon as the weather comes around, these are going to be trips where I combine kayaking and walking in the same trip. I have been interested in poking around the wetlands of the Muskegon River delta where it enters Muskegon Lake, and this spring I am going to do it! In my planning, I have found that most of the delta and the wetlands are part of the Muskegon State Game Area, over 10,000 acres of almost nothing but water, swamps, waterfowl, and a few eagles thrown in for good measure. I should be able to get some really good pictures from these trips. I am also going to do at least one on the other end of the lake, where the Muskegon State Park is, and up Bear Creek to Bear Lake. These will be great ones too. I’ll strap a day pack on my kayak, and let the day decide where I am going to go that day. I am not going to be in any hurry, and I’m planning on spending an entire day each time I go. I am going to take food and water for a full day, starting fairly early in the morning and going til when ever. If it is a warm sunny day, I may even catch a nap somewhere during the day. I have no idea what time I’ll be done, I may still be out there at sunset to take some pictures if I am having a good day. My kind of trips, hey spring, hurry up and get here! Hard to paddle when the lakes and streams are frozen over, I know, I’ve tried.

That reminds me, I have to check into whether or not I need to buy a pass for our state parks this year. The state just changed the funding, and the way they charge for access to the state parks. We now have what is known as the Recreational Passport, for less than half of what the stickers used to cost. I have read that it will be free for me this year because of when my birthday is, but that sounds too good to be true. Not that I mind paying, not at all, we have some of the best run parks in the country, and I’m willing to pay my own way. I have heard the new system is already past the break even point, good news if that’s true! The money also goes to fund our state forest facilities as well, after the state parks have been finally funded the way they should be.

I’ll also have to start looking for when the new fishing licenses come out, they are required as of the first of April, and I’d like to get mine early if I can. My arm is already starting to twitch in the casting motion. I only got to go fishing a few times last year, I am planning on a lot more this year, starting with my annual trip to the Pigeon River Country come the first of May. An entire week of quiet solitude in the largest wilderness in the lower peninsula of Michigan! I am bringing my kayak this year, so I’ll really do some exploring between fooling hungry trout into thinking my bits of feathers and fur are something good to eat. So many places, so many rivers, so many trout, and so little time, darn it. I have to win the lotto so I can become a trout bum, only if I did win, I guess I wouldn’t be a bum.

If I can talk any one into joining me on one of the two weekends I’m up there, I am going to run either the upper Manistee River in the DeWard Tract, or the south branch of the Au Sable through the Mason Tract. Both of these are fabulous kayak trips, it is hard to choose one over the other. If no one does join me, I may do the upper Manistee by myself, and add in a hike as well.

Either over the Memorial Day or Fourth of July Weekends I am going to try to paddle out to Saint Helena Island which is an island in Lake Michigan near the Mackinac Bridge. It is 266 acres of nature preserve that is open to the public, and there is a historic lighthouse on the island as well. Labor Day weekend is going to find me back in the Pigeon River Country chasing bull elk again, I hope for better luck this year. I saw a couple last year, way back out of camera range as it was getting dark, but I did get to hear them bugling.

Now if spring would just hurry up and get here!

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