Spring vacation 2014, the 2nd day
It was raining lightly off and on when I woke up on Monday morning, a very dark and dreary day. As I drank my coffee, I pondered where I should go and what I should do, as I hoped that the weather would improve. It didn’t, instead, the rain picked up to a steady, moderate rainfall. I didn’t feel like trying to cook outside in the rain, and I sure didn’t feel like eating my soggy cooking in the rain either.
But, I had planned somewhat for bad weather, that’s why I chose Goose Creek campground to stay in for at least the first few days, it’s only a few miles west of Grayling, Michigan. Hartwick Pines State Park is just a few miles north of Grayling, so I decided to run into town, get something to eat, then start my day at Hartwick Pines.
One reason, besides the weather, is that I have always seen evening grosbeaks at Hartwick Pines, and I needed photos of them for the My Life List project that I’m working on. Another reason is that Hartwick Pines State Park is one of the crown jewels of Michigan’s excellent state park system. Here’s a bit of the history of the place from the Michigan DNR’s website.
“With an area of 9,672 acres, Hartwick Pines is one of the largest state parks in the Lower Peninsula. The park’s rolling hills, which are built of ancient glacial deposit, overlook the valley of the East Branch of the AuSable River, four small lakes and unique timber lands. The principal feature of this park is the 49-acre forest of Old Growth Pines which gives the park its name. This forest is a reminder of Michigan’s past importance in the pine lumber industry as well as a source of inspiration for the future of our forests. The park is rich in scenic beauty and because of the different habitats it encompasses, there is ample subject matter for the sports person, photographer, or naturalist throughout the year. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. year round.
The Story Behind The Pines In 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased over 8,000 acres of land, which included 85 acres of old growth white pine, from the Salling-Hanson Company of Grayling. Mrs. Hartwick was a daughter of Nels Michelson, a founding partner of the Salling-Hanson logging company. A short while later, Mrs. Hartwick donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial park to be named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick of Grayling. Edward Hartwick had died overseas during World War I. Also wishing to commemorate the logging history of the region and of her family, Karen Hartwick requested that the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum be built in the park.
In 1934 and 1935, a Civilian Conservation Corps work crew located within the park built two log structures to house this museum. Today, the museum uses exhibits, artifacts, and photographs, to recreate the atmosphere of a logging camp and tell the tale of the “shanty boys” who turned Michigan’s vast forests into timber. Period settings depicting a bunkhouse, mess hall, blacksmith shop, camp office, and van (store) give the visitor a sense of what logging camp life was like.
Mrs. Hartwick was also involved in the naming of two of the park’s lakes. Nels Michelson had a team of oxen which he used for skidding logs out of the forest. They were named Bright and Star. Karen Hartwick requested that the former Alexander Lakes be renamed in their honor. The state board of geographic names felt that there were already too many Star Lakes in Michigan, but they settled on Glory instead, and our Bright Lake and Glory Lake became named after logging oxen.
In November of 1940, a fierce wind storm struck the area of the park and removed nearly half of the old growth pine. Today, only 49 of the original 85 acres remain standing.”
Since that was written, more wind storms, disease, and old age have taken their toll on the old giants which once stood in the park, there are just a few remaining now. However, it’s still a magnificent feeling to stand under one of the giant white pines that do remain, and look up in awe as they seem to go on forever, reaching almost to the clouds.
But, I couldn’t figure out how to capture that in a photo, I’m not sure it can be done in a stand of trees like they are.
I’ve been through the logging museum a few times, it is well worth a visit in it’s own right if you’re ever in the area. So, I’ll start with a few photos of the larger equipment outdoors to give you a little feel for the place. I’d have taken photos in the museum buildings, but they had school tours going through them, and all the displays are behind glass, and it’s hard to get good flash photos shooting through glass.
I did find the evening grosbeaks, and a few other critters.
On my way out, I stopped at the visitor’s center to thank the employees for doing such a great job with the park, as they are always very helpful and knowledgeable. I started chatting with one of the employees, and he gave me a tip on the location of a bog that had been on part of the hiking trail system in the park, but the boardwalk through the bog had fallen into disrepair.
Unfortunately, there were two decades when our Michigan DNR, which oversees our park system, was severely underfunded, and many needed repairs weren’t done. Hopefully, that has changed with the new system of funding our parks that we have here in Michigan now. But it will be years before the DNR is able to catch up on the maintenance, although you can already see major improvements.
Anyway, I found the bog, I didn’t find any birds, but what a place! I have a feeling that Allen, who does the New Hampshire Gardening Solutions blog would go crazy if he ever saw that bog, the plants amazed me, and I know little about them. I want to go back later in the year when the plants are flowering! Here’s a very small sampling of what I found.
By then, it was pouring down rain between thundershowers. Not exactly great weather for photos, or photography equipment, which is why I got so few photos.
I did stop at Bright and Glory Lakes between downpours.
The rain let up a little, so I tried fishing the east branch of the AuSable River for a while, but couldn’t even turn a brook trout.
So, I did a little exploring by car, as there are so many places I have yet to find, and here’s what I came up with as far as photos.
Arriving back at the campground, I noticed one benefit to all the rain, jelly mold showing up on the railings next to the river. So, in a break between rain showers, I set up my tripod, and did further testing with the Tokina macro lens, starting with a test shot.
This next one is as close as I can get with just the Tokina lens.
And, this is as close as I can get with the 1.4 X extender behind the lens.
I must have bumped the tripod when I added the extender, since I didn’t get the exact same molds as in the second shot, but these were about the same size. None of the photos were cropped at all. I used the LCD panel light for lighting, and for the first time ever, I had it turned up as high as it would go as far as light output, and I could have used more.
After that, there was nothing to do but eat supper, and turn in for the night.
That’s all for this one, thanks for stopping by!