No matter where you might be Hiking or spending some time out on the Trails, there are a few items and useful tips that can serve us all. Self Defense / Survival / and that comfort that makes any Outdoor experience more enjoyable, comes from the old Scout adage of “Always Being Prepared”.
A few years back many of the women Hikers started talking about feeling unsafe out on the Trails. This went for both Hiking and Biking. As a male, it was something I never much considered. So……after a few open Hike discussions, we sat down around a Campfire, and the women put together their thoughts on what they felt made them feel safer out on the Trails. What is good about these WOMEN SAFETY sheets, is that they where put together by women, for women. A women’s insight on feeling safer outdoors. We also exchanged ideas with one another on the simple things that did so much when it came to making anyone more safe out in the local Parks. You can Download the WOMENS SAFETY sheets here. The main intention for these Safety Sheets where for the comfort and safety of Women, out on the Trails. But the shared…
I had a very strange thing happen to me recently. I have observed Praying Mantises many times out along the Trails. The other day I was walking along the edge of a small pond when a group of Grasshoppers where moving through. As a group, they hopped about 8 inches, and moved in unison, as a moving hoard. They where definitely on their way to somewhere as a group.
I stopped and crouched to pick one up and observed the Hoppers closely. From about 2 feet away, a Praying Mantis jumped onto my lower pant-leg and started walking up my leg, while it was waving it’s two hooked arms in a thrashing movement. It continued until I decided it was far enough up my leg, that it needed to be stopped. I took a stick and put it in front of him, and he attacked it viciously.
Now……I have watched a Mantis attack prey before. Usually in one, very quick movement, it would lurch forward and embrace the prey. But this one was acting like a Mini Tank with propeller blades on the front. Very strange behaviour!
I am not sure if I had interrupted it’s hunt on the herd of Grasshoppers moving through, or it had Rabbis or something. 🙂 But this constant motion of it’s front arms, in a hacking motion was very weird.
I certainly did not want to anger this guy any further as he continued to crawl up my pant leg, so I finally flicked him off. He disappeared into the grass and that was it. Not quite sure what took place there, but I would say…..Never anger a Praying Mantis, especially one that appears to be hunting. 🙂
Last year, our Hiking North Central Michigan director, Mark Wilson, headed off to South Manitou Island for a few weeks of Volunteer Trails work. He spent an extended time on the Island repairing trails, signage and some of the historical building there. Read Marks first entries on his South Manitou Island visit.
This year a number of people who had seen Marks reports and the great Map we had built from his exploits on the Island, planned a trip there. A couple of local Boy Scout Troops and our friend Kim, her son Dylan and family headed for the Island and sent us extensive pictures of their visit. In fact…..we have split up these pictures into groups to best display them here. The first batch from Kim and family are the basics of the Island. We will be posting the Flowers and Birds of South Manitou Island, following this first posting.
South Manitou Island is part of an island chain that extends north to the Straits of Mackinac. The island consists of a ridge of tilted layers of limestone, buried under a blanket of glacial debris. Glaciers carved out the Lake Michigan basin. When the basin filled with water, the peaks of the ridge remained exposed as islands. During post-glacial times, winds blowing on the high, sandy bluffs on the west side of the island moved sand inland, forming perched dunes. The dunes are a fragile environment. Please stay on existing paths and avoid stepping on plants.
Tucked away on the southwest corner of the island is a grove of virgin white cedar trees. One of the fallen trees showed 528 growth rings, dating its existence to before Columbus. A trip to South Manitou Island takes a little planning. The passenger ferry is operated by Manitou Island Transit (231-256-9061). You will want to call ahead for reservations and be sure to pack a lunch.
Volunteers are what make Michigan’s Natural world healthy and alive. We have the very best of people here in Michigan, who selflessly give of their time and money to help our beautiful state remain that way.
After some 15 years with Hiking Michigan and Hiking North/Central Michigan, I have met many people who have a special relationship with Mother Nature. It is not just their passion or Love for the Natural World, but it is also what MOM gives back to them in special ways.
A good example of this is Mark Wilson, director here at Hiking North/Central Michigan. Mark is up in Seney Wildlife Refuge for the summer working. You can take a look regularly on his Photo album of Seney experiences. MARK’S SENEY PHOTO ALBUM
MOM gives special things to Mark regularly. Yes……we all have those moments where we catch that critter doing something interesting, or that Bird swooping down for some food, or run across that patch of rare Flowers you seldom get a chance to see. When you take a look at Mark’s Photo albums of his outdoor experiences, you will see just what I mean. On a regular basis he captures unique and extra special outdoor activities that we all hope to run across ourselves.
Mark is of course, an experienced Outdoorsman and understands different techniques in Tracking and waiting on critters in the wild. He also has a special inquisitive nature that leads him to places where those special flowers grow. But it is much more then that. It happens to regularly for it to be just Mark’s experience. MOM is giving him special things too. I believe it is because of what he gives the Natural world in his work and help.
OK……this may sound a bit wild. But take a look at some of his Outdoor Photo albums and see if anyone you know has that kind of regular luck in finding critters, Birds and special environments as mark does.
There are others who get this kind of treatment from MOM too. Joshua Chrisman from MICHIGAN’S WILDLIFE just has a way of capturing so many different critters, plants, insects, on such a regular basis, that it goes beyond his experience or his personal luck. MOM likes him a bit extra. 🙂
There are many other people I know or have met through my years out in the Outdoors. These are just a couple of MOM’s favorites, I thought I would mention here. I could not possibly list everyones name here. But you know who you are. And so does MOM.
Many animals only come out at night. Or this is the time period when they are most active. It is not always advisable to go wandering out into the Forest, in the middle of the night, even with a flashlight. Getting lost, falling and hurting yourself or many other unforeseen things can occur, that would turn a fun time, into a disastrous time.
So start this night-time animal hunt process in the safety of your own backyard. You maybe very surprised on just what you may find in your own backyard after dark.
Get yourself two flashlights. One should be a wide-beam, not so bright type of flashlight. You will use this flashlight to basically find movement and activity in and around the yard. This dull beam will not necessarily, instantly scare off any critters you may come across.
Once you have spotted some movement, then turn on your second flashlight, which will be a very bright, high-beam style of flashlight. In some cases this bright beam will make the critter freeze in their tracks. If it does not, it will certainly shed much light on your subject and help you to identify what you have found moving in the darkness.
DO NOT immediately reach out and try and touch or grab what you have found. Make a very good ID before you proceed any further. There maybe no need to touch your discovery at all. Hopefully the High-beam flashlight will cause your new found critter to stop, allow you to ID it, and possibly get a picture of it for future reference.
You will truly be amazed at what lurks in the night, in your own backyard! Our friend Joshua, at “Michigan’s Wildlife” suggested this kind of night exploring on his site. Go and visit him and discover other night-time tricks for finding animals, or see the many IDs of Animals, plants and Insects he has on his site. It is a treasure trove of information and knowledge, all based in our beautiful Michigan.
Some cations to take while night-time Animal searching are……Be alert. You can sometimes get pretty close to a critter in the dark. This is what your after, unless that critter is a Skunk, or lets say a Possum you have accidentally cornered. Being alert to your actions and all that is around you while you explore, should in most cases, eliminate the common possible dangers to night-time Animal searching.
This past weekend, 6/8/13, a small group of us took and all day visit to a wonderful place. The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, near Saginaw, Michigan. A truly remarkable place!!!!!!!
The Refuge reminded me alot of Seney Wildlife Refuge in the Upper peninsula. Controlled flooding areas, Farm fields and so much quality habitat for so many different species.
Wading Birds and aquatic birds are the main focus here, but there is much, much more. Nesting Eagle and Osprey. Deer, Fox, Muskrats, Woodchucks and many, many different kinds of Snakes.
We seen literally field full of Great Egrets. Hundreds of them together. There where also many Great Blue Herons mixed amongst the Egrets, all feeding in the many shallow ponds and field floodings. Trees full of White Egrets. Again…..hundreds of them.
At times it was a sensory overload. There was just so much to see, experience and hear. We only covered the 6.5 mile Scenic Car drive road, along the southern section of the Refuge. Our next trip will include some of the well marked hiking trails that come off of these Scenic, One-way drives.
The Refuge is an enormous place. It would take many trips to the Park to even start to see some of it’s many and vast habitats.
The Refuge has an excellent Visitors Center in the southern section of the Park. Very good Maps available there, and the Ranger is very well versed in what is happening in and around the refuge. No matter what your destination is at the Refuge, it is worth the stop at this Visitors Center for all the Info and knowledge you can collect before you head into such a vast area.
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1953 and contains more than 9,600 acres of marsh, bottom-land hardwood forest, and grasslands. It was authorized by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act “…for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.” Additional purposes designated under the Refuge Recreation Act are “…incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational development, the protection of natural resources, and the conservation of endangered and threatened species.”
The refuge’s mission is to preserve and manage an undeveloped expanse of floodplain forest, marshes, rivers, and associated habitat within an agricultural and urban landscape through habitat management, encouraging public stewardship, educational programs, and private land activities .
In the center of the Upper Peninsula is Seney Wildlife Refuge. Nesting Eagles, Loons, Wolves and Birds of all types call the Refuge home. The Park is cut in half by the Manistique river. A wondrous trip down this river will give you access to some unbelievable wilderness and wildlife.
There is a Car Scenic road that circles a corner of the Refuge. Lots to experience just from this road alone. But take a HIKE into the deeper back-country and you will be astounded at the beauty and abundance of raw Nature.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Seney National Wildlife Refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The 95,238 acre refuge encompasses the 25,150 acre Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark.
The director at Hiking North/Central Michigan, and the director of Parks & Recreation in his home town of Evart, Michigan, Mark Wilson, will be heading to Seney Wildlife Refuge for the summer. Cannot even imagine what he will learn and experience there over the next 3 months.
We are hoping Mark has some time to Post in on his experiences there at Seney. The Refuge is a very special place, and a Park that Everyone should visit at some point in their lives. It is one of those places that one visit just does not cover what is there to see.
We hope to continue what Mark has started at the Green Pine Lake Trails Restorations, while he is gone. removing the destructive Beaver there would go a long ways in continuing the process of restoring the entire Trails system there, and start on Trails signage and the rebuilding of the many Boardwalks and bridges in the Park.
But most of all……we all hope Mark has a very learned time on his trip to Seney. The knowledge available there for his studies is just endless. And the possibilities of Photos beyond the norm is always present in this vast Refuge. We all hope you have a safe time there, Mark. And you share your new knowledge with all of us. The best of Luck to you, and the very best of enjoyable times to you as well. 🙂 See you when you return. I feel a BOOK coming in the near future. 🙂 Rob
In a wonderful newspaper article, the city of Clare, Michigan, recognized and complimented the efforts of all the Volunteers who came out to help Restore the Boy Scouts created Trails at Green Pine Lake. Ausable State Forest area. After many years of abandonment, the extensive Trails, Boardwalks, Bridges and Map posts had fallen into disrepair, making much of the area un-navicable.
Mark Wilson, our director here at Hiking North/Central Michigan, started this project with a number of GPS hikes to get an idea of just where the last of the Trails existed. He was assisted by a number of people, including Scout Master Jeff from Ortonville. This allowed a good Map to be created to start the ball rolling.
Mark got together with the Friends of Clare county and organized a Trails Restoration on Saturday, 4/21/13. The Groups who turned out worked very hard and some even stayed overnight at the Mud Lake Campground to continue the work the following day.
A big stop for the Group was a local Beaver who decided he needed to Dam up one of the creeks and flood out an entire section of the Trail. The DNR will be removing the Beaver so further work can continue, and the whole project can be finished up this summer. Look for the next weekend scheduled Trails Restorations coming soon. This one will be scheduled for the entire weekend, with free Camping supplied by the DNR at Mud Lake Campground nearby.
If you are an Outdoors person of any sort, then having an Outdoors Car Kit is something you either have already or are contemplating. Every person who heads out to our Michigan Forests and Parks, in any season, should have a Car Kit of needed outdoor items.
To many times we jump into the car, with not alot of time, and rush on over to our favorite Hiking place. We get there and then realize we have forgotten something. It may not be a huge item we have forgotten, but it can be the difference between a quick fun Hike, Bird watching ventures or Mushroom hunt, and a bad time.
You forgot Insect repellent. Not a good thing. You did not bring any water with you. Not deadly, but the difference between an enjoyable time and one focused on thirst. All these little things can make a big difference in our Outdoor experiences.
Packing a set of items for every season, and keeping them in the Car at all times, eliminates so many small problems that can turn into big ones. These essentials for almost any Outdoors venture, should be stored in the car, in a waterproof container. Keeping moisture and severe temperature changes, away from your Car Outdoor KIT, will allow these items to last indefinitely for you. You may not even use them over a year period. BUT……they are always there for those times you have forgotten something. Or your Outdoors partner has forgotten something.
When your Hiking buddy is having a bad time….YOU most likely will be experiencing some of that pain as well. So being prepared is a good thing, all the way around.
Take a look at the List we have created here. They are the essentials. BUT…..there are of course, your personal needs of things that YOU require to have the best, safe and funnest time in the Outdoors. I cannot tell you how important something so simple like this stashed Car Outdoors KIT can be. That very first time you use something from your hidden Car KIT, will pay for the time it took for you to put it together. I do not think that any will disagree with the fact that on many trips out to the Parks, we forget something. And it usually is that item that has the most effect on our relaxing and enjoyment of the Outdoors.
You can download the CAR OUTDOORS KIT here. You may also be interested in a set of sheets we put together last year on CAR CAMPING NEEDS. It is similar in the same way as the CAR OUTDOORS KIT has all those things you need to not get caught without something. The CAR CAMPING sheets do the same thing. We list out the basic needs for a CAR Camping weekend and those things that are a must for a quality time camping from your Car. You will notice that some of the items for the Car Camping lists are the same as what is on the Car Outdoors KIT. It is OK to have two of anything while Camping. So do not be concerned about repeats.
If you want to reward yourself for packing properly and BEING PREPARED, you can add these to your Car Outdoor KIT. They last forever in a sealed plastic bag. 🙂