Friday, November 30, 2012

Best Hike I've Ever Had!

   You know the feeling when things are happening around you and your thinking to yourself, there is no way this is happening by chance ?  I think those moments in our lives are ways of God telling us how much he loves us or they are ways of teaching us lessons about ourselves.  This was one of those times.

After taking a hike with Katie and Emily on the Lost Lake Trail we had lunch at our campsite.  When lunch was over I still had an urge to hike some more.  So after a pit stop at the mens' room I grabbed my day pack and trekking poles and headed off for more adventure.

I headed out past the trail head at the end of our campground and following the trail we took the first hike on for a little bit then heading down an adjacent trail to the Lost Lake Trail called the Lighthouse Trail.  I only took this trail to get to my planned destination the Logging Trail.  This area is filled with many fallen over trees.  Some of them are broken like twigs and some are cut clean.  I climbed a wooden stairway up a steep hill slowing at the top to catch my breath.  Walking along I heard a russel to my right.  I stopped  and looked to where the noise came from.  There stood  a large white-tailed deer doe.  I glanced around to see if there were more and yep there was a buck, antlers still growing one longer than the other covered in fur.  They stood perfectly still hoping I didn't see them.  I watched them for bit and then moved on.

After arriving at the Lighthouse Trail and Logging Trail junction I headed north up the Logging Trail scanning the trail in front and to the sides of me hoping to catch a glimpse of more wildlife.  After a while I do catch a glimpse.  Up ahead on where the trail takes a bend to the left something is partially hidden behind the trees.  Wow! it's a coyote with very bushy fur. (the only coyote I've seen before this one is a dead one)  He looks at me as I look at him for a moment  and then he trots away.  This hike couldn't get and cooler; or could it?

I kept hiking delighted by all the wildlife I've been seeing.  Every now and then I would hear a russel and catch glimpses of white tails bobbing away from me through the forest.  Then I heard another russel.  This one sounded different this time.  It was more of a sliding russel than a impact russel like most animals make.  Usually sliding russels means it's a snake, but this one is too loud to be a snake.  I could tell it was in the vicinity of a clearing up ahead on the right.  Dense trees and bushes blocked my view so I crept ahead silently.  Oh my goodness!  I saw something I thought I would never see.  Two white-tailed deer bucks hunched forward, antlers locked in a duel!  I stood there and watched from behind some green foliage feeling like I'm Marty Stouffer taping Wild America.(no I didn't have a camera)  After a few minutes I think they caught my scent and looked up and stared at me with a "what do you want?" expression.  So I came out of my hiding spot, gave them a thanks for a show wave, and hiked on down the trail feeling exstatic.

On the Logging Trail there is two stone shelters.  The first one is a typical cabin style shape.  On the inside there is a long wooden bench on one side and a fireplace on the opposite side.  I guess you can use the fireplace, but you might need permission.  (There is another shelter like this one where the Ridge Trail and the Island trail meet).  The second shelter is gazebo shaped  with two wooden benched on opposite sides.  While heading south I stopped and sat at the gazebo shaped shelter for a snack of trail mix and water.  After this short stop I kept trekking south all the way to the Pines Campground where the Logging Trail ends.  I glance at the map and head back north the way I came until reaching the intersection at the Coast Guard Trail .  I take a left and headed west down the coast Guard trail toward Lake Michigan.

The Coast Guard Trail is a very winding trail that heads out to U.S. Life Saving Service Historic Site on Lake Michigan.  In this area near Lake Michigan there is an abundance of Jack Pine trees, but they are dying out.  From what I can figure out from reading information signs in this area they are dying out due it being a warmer climate than it used to be.

After reaching near the lake shore I wanted to go see this U.S. Lifesaving Historic Site so pressed on up a small sand dune, but as I reached the top I could see and hear thunderstorms in the distance on Lake Michigan.  I also saw a coast guard boat patrolling the lake shore.  I turned back knowing the beach is not a safe place during a thunderstorm.

As I'm heading back along the Coast Guard Trail through the back dunes I see a very small bird.  I was curious on what king it was so I watched it for a bit till it stopped moving so I could get a good look at it.  I saw that it's tail stuck straight up and knew it was a wren.  I took five steps after that and saw another bird.  This one I was pretty sure what kind it was, but I waited till it stopped to make sure.  Yep that's an Indigo Bunting.  Two more surprises on this hike.

Following the Coast Guard Trail East the storm was slowly coming in on top of me.  First some sprinkles.  Then light rain.  Then heavier drops.  The sound of leaves getting pummeled by water droplets getting louder at each interval.  I stopped at a cedar tree and put my rain coat on after deciding it was raining hard enough to warrant using one.  Now partially rain proof I got moving again a little faster knowing it was going to rain hard soon.  I passed the Logging Trail and the Ridge Trail.  The trail didn't seem right after this.  I kept going the way I thought it was suppose to go.  I was a little lost on where I was on the map and what trail.  After a short while I arrived back to the Coast Guard Trail and Ridge Trail intersection.  I went in a circle.  I decided and went down the Coast Guard Trail again looking carefully this time for the sign I missed.  I found the sign this time.  It was on a post underneath a very shady tree.  I couldn't see the black arrow on the post till I was a few feet from it.  No wonder I missed it!

On the right path now I hastily moved along knowing the storm would be on top of me soon.  I've always wanted to hike in a storm.  After reaching the end of the Coast Guard Trail I was at the most southern loop of the Beechwood Campground.  The thunderstorm was on top of me.  I could hear lightning strikes less than a half mile away and the rain was monsooning down.  I made it back to the campsite and found Emily taking shelter in her car and Katie out shopping.  Emily came out and met me at the canopy. We had  a quick "hi, how are you?" small talk and then she went back to her car.  I went inside my tent, took off my wet clothes, laid down on my bed and read a book.

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