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How-to ~ Ideas
For years, decades even, hiking was something we talked about, thought about,
were interested in, but didn't very often fit into our active lives. Though if
we were to wear a pedometer around the homestead we certainly added up enough
steps to quality for a hike most any day! And we did enjoy many really nice
walks and hikes through the years, including some time spent working on the
AuTrain section of the North Country Trail. It just hadn't come regularly into our lives in a bigger way.
But that changed
in early winter-that-didn't-feel-like-winter 2020.
It was the
first of December and we still had bare ground and mild temperatures. The wood
shed was full, the garden and orchard ready for winter, fall chores done and
we'd even done a number of "spring" projects. We'd often walked up the road but
now the rifle deer hunting season was over so we could once again walk in the
We have multiple great
Of course, even a sparse snow winter does
It was the first of December and we still had bare ground and mild temperatures. The wood shed was full, the garden and orchard ready for winter, fall chores done and we'd even done a number of "spring" projects. We'd often walked up the road but now the rifle deer hunting season was over so we could once again walk in the woods.
We have multiple greattracks to walk right out our front door, and we do, but it's fun to explore elsewhere, too. Trips to town became reasons to check out different hiking spots, and make the drive worthwhile. Without snow the cross-country ski trails were wonderful walking trails. We discovered trails we had never been on, all within 50 miles of home, close by our standards. Later in January when there was a bit of snow cover - too little for snowmobiles, barely enough for skiiers - we left the ski trails (though sparse of snow the skiiers were getting more than a little anxious and making do with what they had, and we didn't want to mess up their trails by walking on them). But we soon discovered that the snowmobile trails were a close second for good hiking, especially if there had been a few intrepid snowmobilers to pack down the trail. With better snow up north and close to bare spots in their own trails down here the snowmobilers were few. Some ATV traffic helped pack the snow and made walking without snowshoes possible.
Of course, even a sparse snow winter doeseventually comes to enough snow to require snowshoes. The skiiers enjoy their trails, the snowmobilers can travel the southern U.P. routes as well as the northern, and we check out other trails. There is never an "off" season for hiking! Since summer and fall are pretty busy times for us on the homestead we enjoy getting out hiking when the weather is pleasant during those colder (but no mosquito or black flies!) months, whether afoot or on snowshoes.
Below is our hiking log (generally not including walks of less than two hours), starting in December 2021. Click on the date to go to that trail's page for full description/stories, map and photos of each hike, in chronological order on the page. ~~~ You can also to to the individual trails' hikes via the links on the menu bar above right.
April 6, 2021 -- Little Presque Isle
A coming rainy spell meant get in one more hike before. It was foggy, mid 40's cool, and there was mention of wind and scattered showers but this was our day to go to Marquette and walk the awesome Little Presque Isle trail along the Lake, starting farther north at the parking lot near the Point and the Isle.
April 5, 2021 -- Re-visiting Indian Lake Pathway
When we walked the local snowmobile trail Saturday we passed by two spots where the Indian Lake Pathway trail crosses, a reminder that we wanted to walk that trail now that the snow was gone, and before mosquito season, since we had guessed that the lower Loop area might be wet. Today we had to go into Manistique so we stopped on our way home to walk the now bare trail.
April 3, 2021 -- A Long Walk North-Northeast
Warm weather - light south wind - sunshine, the odd weather pattern continues. We enjoyed working on the homestead yesterday and this day we decided to enjoy a long hike. Not inclined to drive anywhere we walked out our front door north, then east along the local snowmobile trail, now ORV two-track. We were on our way by 10:30 and it was already warm in the low 40's.
March 25, 2021 -- Bare Ground at Days River!
What a difference a few weeks can make. We had stopped by Days River a a week ago on our way home from Escanaba to find the trail melting but still pretty muddy and quite a bit of ice and packed snow. Today we were in the mood for a longer hike and were pretty sure Days River paths would be clear. And they were!
March 23, 2021 -- Town Hikes Can be Nice, too - and Finding Little Gems
Last week we walked for a couple of hours around Escanaba with hiking friends, enjoying spending time together and walking their home paths, talking about hikes past and those to come. One doesn't need to be on a woods trail to enjoy a hike. On our way home we added to the day by heading down Stonington Peninsula to check out the Bayshore Trail along Little Bay de Noc.
March 19, 2021 -- Going South - to Fayette
Going south to avoid the snow is a normal part of life for many in the U.P. so we decided to give it a try. Our snow is melting (very fast this year) but the packed paths are still pretty much covered with hard to walk slush, ice, or packed snow. So we headed south (about 26 miles) to Fayette State Park on the Garden Peninsula. We were pretty sure the snow would be gone there and (for the most part) it was.
March 13, 2021 -- Around the Country Block, plus
It was a great forecast - sunny, high of 52 degrees. Wow! We'd walk the block, maybe take a lunch, go a little farther to find a spot to sit and bask in the sun. The roads would be clear of snow, maybe a bit muddy in spots but it should be good walking.
March 9, 2021 -- Revisiting the North Country Trail
A snowbank had been plowed up blocking the NCT trail entrance across the road from Valley Spur. But there was a clear fresh NCT marker visible beyond and we knew the trail was there, or at least had been. It had been ten or fifteen years since we'd been on that trail. We clumsily (in snowshoes) climbed up and over the bank and began our re-acquaintance with this great trail section.
March 9, 2021 -- Valley Spur's Snowman Snowshoe Trail
On a trip to Marquette we tossed in our snowshoes in case we might be able to get a walk in somewhere. We knew they'd still have snow up north. We could have just walked in town but decided to stop at Valley Spur on our way home and take a quick walk on whatever version of little snowshoe trail they had. There was indeed the common short Bunny Loop but to our surprise also a longer 2.6 mile long snowshoes-only Loop.
Since we we'd had a good work-out with yesterday's hike this was a no-hike day. But it was so beautiful out, clear blue, sunny, almost warm and Days River was right on our way home from a trip to Esky. We'd just stop and see how the trails looked. And maybe a quick loop around the snowshoe path would be nice to stretch our legs.
March 3, 2021 -- Checking Out Bruno's Run
The forecast was for partly cloudy (which we read as Partly Sunny), low 30's and light wind. The trails would be well frozen. Should be easy to walk. We decided to head north and walk another piece of Bruno's Run.
February 27, 2021 -- ManyTracks - Hint of Spring
Not everyone can get excited about muddy roads but this was a beautiful sight to us. Clear blue sky, above freezing temperature, and roads clear of snow -- so we went for another walk around the neighborhood block.
February 25, 2021 -- A New Trail - Ashford Lake Pathway
A little known, little used, old DNR Pathway that was only 30 miles from home - we had to check this one out. So next trip to Manistique we took along snowshoes and packs and headed north of town to see if this unknown trail was worth exploring.
February 17, 2021 -- ManyTracks - Checking Out the Neighborhood
Upper teens, clear blue skies, light south-sw wind -- a beautiful day. After a few weeks of February-cold temperatures and colder wind chills this forecast sounded downright balmy. A walk was in order.
February 11, 2021 -- ManyTracks - First Longer Snowshoe Hike of the Season
Though it was only an hour and a half I figure it rates as a 3 hour hike since it was plenty long on snowshoes this early in the season (I know, it's mid February, full into winter, but since our first real snow only came last week it is early for those snowshoeing muscles). Besides, we did take hot drink and snacks, so it was a hike.
Since this was possibly the last chance for awhile to walk the trails without snowshoes (depending on what really happens with the forecasted storm) we, of course, took advantage of the beautiful sunny calm 28-32 degree day to hike. Having spent 3 hrs at the Escanaba Pathway we didn't have a lot of time left in the day but we wanted to take at least a short hike at Days River on the way home.
February 1, 2021 -- Starting February with the Indian Lake Ski Trail
Only 8 miles from home is a nice little 4.5 mile hiking/biking/skiing DNR trail - the Indian Lake Pathway. Since it was a beautiful, upper 20's, calm wind, partly cloudy day, and we had need to go into Manistique, we decided to look into this trail on our way home.
January 29, 2021 -- Clear Blue Sky and Beautiful Sunshine -- Revisiting SnoMo2
True 100% sun this time, right from the get-go. What a boost. Of course, we had to go hiking. It was a bit cool at 15 degrees when we left home but it was heading up and was in the low 20's for the hike, with hardly any wind. What a beautiful day! ... ... A little more than 3 hours later, as the sun was dropping behind the trees and it was cooling off, we were back at the car.
January 23, 2021 -- Sunshine and a New Trail Section - Rapid River Snowmobile2
With the promise of sunshine and calm winds we decided to head out for a hike this afternoon. Very little new snow in the south-central U.P. which meant the snowmobile trails would still be OK to walk. It was a bit cool in the low 20's but we had plenty of layers ... ... We felt good after a very nice three hours on the trail.
January 13, 2021 -- Sunshine! Clear Skies! -- Bruno's Run 2
We awoke this morning to a rare day -- stars in the sky turning into clear dawn and the sun coming up into a beautiful cloudless blue. ... So we chose our destination and after an early lunch headed north to Bruno's Run to hike the south-west part of that trail, starting at Widewaters.
January 10, 2021 -- Back to Days River and SnoMo2
This time we knew where we were headed -- the short Days River Pathway hike/snowshoe trail to the ORV/ snowmobile2 trail where we turned south instead of north over the bridge as we'd done last week. Another mild cloudy day, no new snow, calm, about 32 degrees - like a film strip stuck in rewind/replay, same weather we'd been having for quite some time now.
January 9, 2021 -- Is it a Hike or a Walk -- Days River Pathway
January 9, 2021 -- Is it a Hike or a Walk -- Snowmobile Trail #2
The new year begins, and the hiking continues. No new snow so we're still in boots, enjoying still walking on almost bare ground. ... we decided to check out the Days River Pathway Snowshoe Track. ... ... But to our surprise, halfway around the hiking/snowshoe trail, it crossed an ORV/snowmobile trail (SnoMo2) at the bridge. A wide, snow-covered, groomed, trail! A delightful place to walk.
Hiking - What a great way to keep fit
and see the world. January 2021
12-22-2020 -- Longer Days! Off to Days River Pathway
The first of the longer days made a good reason to celebrate - with a hike! And the Days River Pathway seemed an appropriate destination. I know we'll continue to have beautiful days but today was likely the last of this warm dry stretch and, depending on whether or not there is any real snow accumulation with the forecasted storm, may be the end of walking on the ski trails.
12-20-2020 -- Celebrating the Solstice!! at Bruno's Run
With light snow cover, light wind, the promise of longer days to come -- we simply had to start our Solstice celebration with a hike. We started out with the sun shining through the hardwoods, though clouds took over the sky as we went along, but the temperature stayed plus or minus 32, with little wind down in the woods. This is a wonderful single track...
December 18, 2020 -- A Day Off ... to Marquette and Presque Isle
Today was a "day off" from hiking. Instead we headed up to Marquette to go shoe shopping, something becoming increasingly needed since both of us had hiking shoes with "issues". ... We got lunch, went out to our favorite and usual spot at Presque Isle Park to eat, watch the choppy waves on the Lake as the wind picked up. ... around to the other side, added a few layers, and walked along the black rock area and up into the woods. ...
December 17, 2020 -- Still No Snow - Checking out the Escanaba NMV Trail
We had to go to Escanaba and we'd have time for a short hike. So we decided to check out the nearby Escanaba Recreational Non-motorized Pathway ... They say it is for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter; and hiking, biking, running in the summer. With a couple feet of snow I'm sure it will be a nice cross country ski trail. But the hiking, biking, running is a bit overstated, at least at the south-east section... ...
December 15, 2020 -- A New Day, A New Trail at Rapid River
It just keeps happening - another good day to go for a hike. A little colder than the last one but not too much, 23 to begin with and calm, partly sunny (hurray!) and it warmed up a few degrees later on. No new snow. Might as well check out another ski trail. This time the Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail. We don't know what makes it national but we know it's very popular with skiing friends. And we found it to be yet another great hiking destination, about 40 miles from home.
December 13, 2020 -- Pine Marten Run
About 20 miles north of us is a Forest Service recreation area called Pine Marten Run. It's mostly a horse trail system with multiple loops through pine and hardwood forests. With several camping areas it's very popular and well used in the no-snow season by the equestrian crowd. However, horse season ends Nov. 30 and with this year's extended hiking season we decided to check out these trails.
December 4, 2020 -- Enjoying Bare Ground at Days River Pathway
We continue to have dry and relatively mild weather. No snow on the ground and outdoor chores done (at least those that don't require warmer temperatures) so ...we checked out the smaller DNR Days River Pathway, north of Gladstone-Rapid River. A very nice park - it was easily navigatable whether skiing, biking, or walking, and they welcome all three. ...
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© 2021 by Susan Robishaw and Stephen Schmeck
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Have you read "Frost Dancing - Tips from a Northern Gardener"? A fun short read.
or "Homesteading Adventures" Creating our backwoods homestead--the first 20 years.
Berries for Food and Fun"
A journey you can use in your own garden.