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

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.

Used in road building

Used in road building

Crane used to lift logs onto sleds in the winter

Crane used to lift logs onto sleds in the winter

"Big wheels" used to transport logs in the summer

“Big wheels” used to transport logs in the summer

How the wheels were held in place

How the wheels were held in place

I did find the evening grosbeaks, and a few other critters.

Male evening grosbeak

Male evening grosbeak

IMG_4310

Blue jays forming a battle line

Male evening grosbeak

Male evening grosbeak

Female evening grosbeak

Female evening grosbeak

Assorted grosbeaks

Assorted grosbeaks

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

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. Β I want to go back later in the year when the plants are flowering! Here’s a very small sampling of what I found.

Pitcher plants

Pitcher plants

Unidentified

Unidentified

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

Marsh marigolds?

Marsh marigolds?

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object and fungus

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.

Bright lake, not looking very bright

Bright lake, not looking very bright

Female common mergansers

Female common mergansers

Two headed female common merganser ;)

Two headed female common merganser πŸ˜‰

A little green

A little green

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.

Turkey in the rain

Turkey in the rain

Killdeer

Killdeer

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper and solitary sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper and solitary sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

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.

Jelly mold

Jelly mold

This next one is as close as I can get with just the Tokina lens.

Jelly mold

Jelly mold

And, this is as close as I can get with the 1.4 X extender behind the lens.

Jelly mold

Jelly mold

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!

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28 responses

  1. Sorry about all that nasty rain but loved the grosbeaks.

    May 18, 2014 at 7:50 am

    • Thanks! Into each life a little rain must fall, which I wouldn’t have minded so much if my photos had come out better. πŸ˜‰

      May 18, 2014 at 7:55 am

    • Thanks Susan, I hope to have better photos soon.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:04 am

  2. It’s too bad that you had so much rain. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a tent waiting for rain to stop. You still got some great photos though. The logging history is really interesting, but you’d think someone back then would have wondered what would happen when they ran out of trees.
    I’m not sure what that plant after the shot of the pitcher plants is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. The white flowers are trailing arbutus, also called Mayflower. They like old, undisturbed soil. You’re right about the bog-you would have had to drag me out of there.
    The yellow jellies are called lemon drops (Bisporella citrina), and I know how hard it is to get a good shot of them since some are as small as a period on paper. It looks like the macro lens and LED light were good investments!
    I hope you’ll have much better weather for the rest of your vacation.

    May 18, 2014 at 9:22 am

    • Thanks Allen! The weather here at home had been a bust too, until yesterday. But, I’ve been getting lifers as far as birds all week long, so things have been going well.

      As far as logging, I think that the idea back then was to run out of trees, clearing the land for farmers that would come later. The problem was that no one looked at the soil up there, it’s too poor to grow crops. That, and the lumber was being sent to build the cities of the plains, where there were no trees.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:11 am

  3. We always enjoy Hartwick Pines and there are plenty of great places to hike there. I am currently working on a novel set during the early lumbering years of Michigan – just before Lewiston became a town – so we have visited Hartwick Pines often for my research. You managed some nice photos, despite the weather. I especially enjoyed the sandpipers. And that jelly mold – so interesting! I never knew the name of that stuff! (We also like to go to Grayling to off-road on the base there. As long as they aren’t doing maneuvers, Jeeps and other 4-wheel drive vehicles – not ATV’s – are allowed to use the tank trails, etc. It’s fun.)

    May 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    • Thanks Amy! They were doing some live fire practice the time I was up there, I could hear the guns at times, but I have done some off roading there near Grayling.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:13 am

      • We can hear the live fire exercises all the way at our place – I also remember that from when I was kid up there, too. πŸ™‚ Our place is also in the flight path for the bombers that take off from Alpena and fly to Grayling. We’ve seen some pretty awesome aircraft fly right over our place, pretty low sometimes. Mark is really good at identifying military aircraft so he usually knows which ones are which. All I know is what the C, F, and B stand for. LOL

        May 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

  4. Jelly mold is a new one on me, but I’ll be on the lookout for it. Hope you are headed back out for week 2, and that your camping life takes a turn for the better.

    May 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    • Thanks Judy! It looks like there will be a stretch of good weather towards the end of this week, so I’ll be headed back.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:14 am

  5. What a shame the weather isn’t being more cooperative. But you still managed some great shots, particularly the grosbeaks. Hope next week improves. But, if nothing else, perhaps you’re enjoying the time off for some much needed rest and relaxation?

    May 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    • Thank you! The weather really only interfered with my photography, I did actually enjoy my time up there more than what came through in my post.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:16 am

      • Well, that’s good to hear! πŸ˜€

        May 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      • Thank you!

        May 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  6. Those jelly mould shots are very good. I’ve never been able to take a good one.

    May 18, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    • Thanks Tom, that almost makes me wish for more rain so that I could get better photos of the jelly molds for you! πŸ˜‰

      May 19, 2014 at 8:17 am

  7. Nenkin Seikatsu

    Watch out for bears!

    May 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    • Thanks, but bears aren’t the problem up there, although there are a few, the bugs are what I have to watch out for.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

  8. Perhaps you’ll grow webbed feet by the time your holiday is over! I liked the shots of the solitary sandpiper.

    May 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    • Thanks, if I start quacking, then you’ll know that the rain has gotten to me.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

      • I’m waiting expectantly!

        May 19, 2014 at 9:15 am

  9. magic

    May 18, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    • Thank you very much.

      May 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

  10. Greg S.

    The Unidentified flowering objects are Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens)

    May 18, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    • Thank you for the info!

      May 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

  11. You did a good job taking advantage of the rain – the photos of the jelly mold and grosbeaks especially – and the story and photos about the logging museum we’re fascinating. For me, the word “bog” hasn’t conjured up a sense of beauty before, but your photos have changed my perception.

    May 19, 2014 at 9:12 am

    • Thank you! I wasn’t much on bogs either, until I began taking notice of the plant life that they hold.

      May 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      • You’re welcome. Suddenly the expression “bogged down” has a different, more positive slant.

        May 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm