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

Some odds and ends, maybe a photo or twenty

After my hike in a county park yesterday, I really have the urge to do a post about cross-country skiers and how rude they can be. My feelings towards them goes back a long way, all the way to the 1970’s when cross-country skiers first started showing up in the woods. We had several winters where we received way above average snowfalls, and I would be out walking on trails I had broken in my snowshoes, when out of nowhere, these people driving mostly Volvos began cussing me out for messing up their trails. Their trails? I had made those trails in the first place, as I walked everyday back then, just as I do now. Back then, there were no defined trails for the most part, so I made my own systems of trails, which the cross-country skiers tried to take over and kick me off from.

But, it got worse. The Michigan DNR tried to cater to the new sport, and opened up some of the state game areas to skiers, but that didn’t work well. It wasn’t long before the cross-country skiers where pressuring the DNR to close off the lands to hunters, when it was hunters who bought and paid for the land.

Then, it got worse. The cross-country skiers began to demand that the DNR groom the trails for them before they would go. Makes sense to me, fire up a gas-powered, air polluting machine to make skiing easier, so the cross-country skiers could claim they were getting back to nature, and getting their exercise as well.

Then it got worse. Building miles of trails made to the specifications cross-country skiers demand, marking the trails so the idiots who can’t find their way around the woods don’t get lost, and grooming the trails cost the DNR millions of dollars, but do the skiers want to pay for it? Of course not! Anytime that a proposal comes up to extend the Pittman-Robertson excise tax hunters and fishermen pay on their gear to cross-country skis and other skiing equipment, the skiers make sure that the proposal gets shot down. They want their cake and the ability to eat it, for free.

For the record, I have met a few friendly cross-country skiers, I think I can count the number of them on one hand. I even had one thank me for breaking trail in my snowshoes, which he was following, which caused my jaw to drop all the way into the snow. I told him about all the times skiers had cussed me out for being in the woods on snowshoes, and he told me it was because they weren’t very smart, that it was a lot easier following a snowshoe trail than breaking it on skis.

Also for the record, I try to avoid cross-country skiers and their trails whenever I can, but the jerks insist on skiing whatever trail they can find, even if it is marked for hiking only. It’s funny, they insist that their trails be groomed, and they’ll cuss me out for breaking a trail by hiking or snowshoeing, but that doesn’t stop them from taking the trails I break, just so they can cuss me out for ruining “their” trails.

As a nature photographer, I am used to people walking right in front of me as I am trying to take a picture. I am also used to people yelling out “Hey, what ya taking pictures of” just as I am trying to photograph a bird or animal, to which I usually reply, “That critter that you just scared off by yelling”. But, cross-country skiers take it to another level, yelling out things like “Coming through!” or “Step aside please!”, at least a few do say please. It’s their attitude that bugs me, as if they own the woods and every one else has to get out of their way.

So it was yesterday as I was trying to shoot the interactions between the nuthatch and the woodpecker. I was on the hiking trail that runs parallel to the cross-country ski trail. I had been watching the nuthatch, but wasn’t going to photograph it as it was a bit too far away for a great shot. Then, the red bellied woodpecker landed on the same tree just below the nuthatch, and bullied its way up to where the nuthatch had been, but it had flown to a branch of the tree and had started chattering away at the woodpecker. I was about to get that shot, I had them both in the frame, I was about to press the shutter release, but it was then that I heard the familiar “Coming through!” from approaching skiers.

I should have waited and snapped a couple of photos before I moved, but skiers always seem to get so huffy if they have to stop, or even slow down a little, after all, they’re holier than the rest of us. They’re out there getting their exercise. Right, that’s why they ski groomed trails, so they don’t have to work to get their “exercise”. They’re getting back to nature. Right, that’s why they ignore the chance to actually witness nature in action, and seem to try to do their best to interfere with those of us who do pause to watch nature in action.

OK, enough of that rant. I have added a link to Rob Slaven’s Photography blog, a very talented photographer from Zionsville, Indiana to the right under blogs I enjoy reading.

I find that I am getting behind in posting photos again, so here are a few I took last weekend. It started with a glorious sunrise.

Sunrise on a snow covered world

It had rained heavily before the snow began, so everything was coated in ice, then covered in snow.

Ice and snow

It was a beautiful day in the marsh

Sun and snow on a marsh

And by the creek

Sun and snow on Buck Creek

The ice that remained on the tree branches resembled miniature ice carvings.

Ice on a branch

Made me wish I had a macro lens for my camera.

Ice on a branch

This one looks strange due to the reflections off from the water.


It seemed like the whole world was sparkly.

Ice on a branch

Everywhere you looked.


A bit of a breeze came up to blow some of the snow off from the trees at times.


It was hard to see very far because of the snow stuck to the trees.

Snow on the trees

It was all so beautiful against a bright blue sky.

Blue sky

This is from one of the smaller creeks.


I didn’t see much wildlife..

Red bellied woodpecker

Red bellied woodpecker

Since I don’t have bird pictures from last Sunday, I’ll throw in a couple from this week.

Fox squirrel feeding on leaf buds

Canadian geese in flight

Black capped chickadee

American goldfinch

American robin

I almost didn’t bother with the robin photo, I have so many pictures of them, but something made me at least look at it through the viewfinder, and when I did, I saw how dramatic the lighting was, and had to take it! I know that technically it isn’t that great, the robin’s breast is way over-exposed, but I love that photo!

Anyway, sorry for the rant about cross-country skiers, especially if you happen to be one. But a little common (or not so common anymore) courtesy on the trails would be nice. There’s no reason we can’t all share them.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


16 responses

  1. Northern Narratives

    I really like the robin photo. The lighting is so special.

    January 22, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    • Thank you, that’s why it always pays to at least check out what the camera would get if you were to shoot, like I said, I almost passed that one up because it was a robin.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve had so many negative experiences with cross country skiers. I’ve been working on learning to ski since last month, but even though I’m learning the skill I haven’t really experienced the culture that goes with it – I’ve only been skiing on private property, the campus of the school where I live and work. I definitely enjoy it and I have to admit that having the trails well-groomed makes it MUCH easier and more fun, but I hadn’t thought about the contradiction of needing gas-powered grooming machines to enjoy a get-back-to-nature activity.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    • I’m sorry, I should have been more precise in that post, most of the skiers that I have trouble with are the hardcore types out there to set a speed record every time they strap on the skis. I saw and heard some guy bitching out his toddler son for not being able to keep up yesterday, made me want to go over and punch the guy’s lights out. The poor kid was less than 5 years old, and here’s his dad all in his face because he can’t ski like a pro. I don’t get it.

      Most cross-country skiers are nice enough, but there are always a few bad apples in every crowd, it seems more in Michigan than in other places I have been. And I’m really good at pointing out contradictions, even my own at times, I’ve got enough to go around.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  3. LOL on the skiiers. I whole-heartedly agree. The p’ark we frequent actually has separate ski and winter walking trails. But my daughter and I like the paved ski trails better and get huffed at alot. And they do zoom by, don’t they? LOVE the snow photos, we are getting freezing drizzle tonight and supposed to get 3-5 by morning. I can’t wait 🙂 Robins are birds too 🙂

    January 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    • Some of the cross-country skiers are like the hardcore bicyclists who complain that cars don’t slow down for them, but won’t use the bike paths because they don’t want to have to slow down for the walkers. 😉 We’re supposed to get freezing drizzle to start, then possibly thunderstorms, then back over to snow in the morning. Not fun.

      January 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

  4. Whoa, those are some fine winter images! The parks here in central Ohio have the occasional ski trail, but I’ve only run into a few cross-country skiers so far. I’m sure Michigan gets FAR more snow than the middle of Ohio- we seem to be right beneath the snow belt to the north.

    January 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    • Thank you, it isn’t all skiers of course, just a few, and I should have made that more clear in my post. I had to make deliveries in Columbus the night you guys got 22 inches of snow! It took me around 7 hours to get from Tipp City to Lancaster, then another 3 or 4 hours to make it to the Worthington area. People kept telling me Columbus was the northern most southern city, as you don’t get much snow there.

      January 23, 2012 at 12:17 am

  5. Excellent. I didn’t know squirrels ate leaf buds. Not good for the tree!

    January 23, 2012 at 5:35 am

    • Trees seem to survive OK, lots of critters eat the leaf and flower buds. The trees just make more. That reminds me though, I’m not an expert, the buds the squirrel was eating my have been flower buds, not leaf buds.

      January 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

  6. I love all of your winter scenes. About your people problems, I am so glad we don’t have that trouble here. In west Texas, particularly in the Big Bend country, a person can get lonely on the trails, Even the local San Angelo State Park, has about 70 miles of roads and trails, and never crowded. Of course, we have no snow either. But for hiking or biking, plenty of room for everybody.

    January 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

    • Thanks Bob. It’s my own fault in a way for hiking in a crowded county park, but I am trying to do my part in conserving fossil fuels and not drive somewhere every weekend for my hikes. I am really feeling the need to get out of town though.

      January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

  7. Those are truly beautiful photos of a sparkly winter wonderland. I love the shot with the reflection in the creek, and those miniature ice sculptures on the branches. You have quite an eye for amazing shots 🙂

    January 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

    • Thank you! And thanks for the comment.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  8. I really like the snow and ice photos. Awesome!!

    January 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    • Thank you Cee!

      January 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm