Praying Mantis Attack

MantistwoI 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 itMantis had Rabbis or something. 馃檪 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. 馃檪

MOM’s Best Friends

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

mark-and-cameraMOM 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.

MichiganWildlifeThere 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. 馃檪

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.

Wildlife by Flashlight

OwlatNightMany 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.

296227_528127123919491_1029290618_nGet 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 goodSkunkNight聽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聽“Michigan’s Wildlife”聽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.

SENEY National Wildlife REFUGE

Seney-SignIn 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聽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.聽Seney National Wildlife Refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan鈥檚 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.


Here are a few pictures from last years trip to the Refuge:

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City of CLARE recognizes Green Pine Lake Trails Restorations

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.



CAR Outdoor KIT

CARKitIf 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 602574_10151964412180298_1455404885_nexperiencing 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.

0_foodandedibles_suckers_-_candy_-_pops_tootsie_-_pop_lgIf 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. 馃檪

Green Pine LK.Restorations Reviewed

GroupAnother job well done Gang. It’s great when people can get together and save something worth saving. Those Trails out at Green Pine Lake are worth saving. The Scouts thought it was worth their time in constructing all those bridges and Boardwalks, many years ago. It is worth making sure they stay around as long as possible. Even if the local Beaver has other ideas.

Mark sent me a short review of the weekend, so here we go……..


All: 聽 聽Just a quick update on the trail restoration day.

First of all, thank you to all involved for all the support.

聽After some great coffee and rolls provided by the Clare County Friends group, and a quick safety briefing Saturday morning we headed out on the trail with 16 people. We split into two groups and headed in different directions on the loops with plans to meet up at Green Pine Lake for lunch. 聽We had beautiful and comfortable weather, and more importantly we had no injuries. The two groups got back together at Green Pine Lake for lunch, shared the mornings progress and planed the afternoons activities. It was nice to see a Loon on Green Pine Lake during lunch and apparently the group that took the west leg of the loop saw a coyote up close and personal. 聽On the large loop we found that the beavers have been very active this spring and have completely closed a section of the large loop. I had one party from Hiking Michigan that stayed at the Mud Lake Campground they wanted to work today as well, so my daughter and I joined them to work on the Mud Lake connector trail today.

Please note all the work that was accomplished over the last 3 days.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The small loop off the M-115 parking lot is re-blazed and all of the brushy areas have been cleared.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The large loop excluding small section in the beaver dam area has been re-blazed. (Thank you to Rich and Chris from the DNR for marking a good portion of the large loop last fall.)

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Several areas that were significantly overgrown on the large loop have also been cleared.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The small nature trail loop at Mud Lake has been cleared and re-blazed.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The connector trail to Mud Lake is re-blazed except for a small section that is near the intersection of Cook and Adams roads. (I鈥檒l plan on taking care of that when I get more paint) 聽

It was nice to meet a group of hikers on the connector trail today as I was out burning up the last couple cans of paint.

I have asked the Hiking Michigan folks to post all their photos here.!/media/set/?set=a.401732259924911.1073741827.149820138449459&type=1








To keep places like Green Pine Lake, a place that many people will be able to enjoy for many years to come, it takes constant work and attention. Than You Rosie, Larry, Peggy, Lani, Kim, Hal, Jane, Rich, Chris, Mark, Dylan and all the others I missed here. (Mark will fill in those names later) (We are not big on full last names in the various Trails & Volunteer work we do here at Hiking Michigan) THE PROJECT IS THE REWARD! 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽聽Rob – HIKING MICHIGAN 聽


Here are some items that we need to consider for the next project weekend.聽

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Address the Beaver Dam issue on the large loop

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Replace broken boards and railings on bridges and boardwalks

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 There was some logging done within the last year that has affected the Mud Lake connector trail in a couple areas that need some significant clean up done. (The trail is however still well marked and usable at this time.)

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Get the wooden signs back up at the trailheads and intersections.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Explore adding one more bridge over a small stream on the Mud Lake connector trail

I think the trail has a lot of potential for summer use this coming summer. The small loop off M-115 offers a nice little day hike that is now well defined. The short Nature Trail loop at Mud Lake offers the same. For people looking for a bigger challenge, to hike from the lot on 115 to Mud Lake via the east leg of the large loop and the Mud Lake connector would be a very challenging hike, but one that can be done now on a well marked trail. 聽I鈥檓 personally very satisfied with the accomplishments of this weekend.

Thanks again to all!

Happy Trails,

Mark Wilson


North/Central Branch

8175 23 Mile Road

Evart MI 49631

Cell: 231-250-2071


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THANK YOU AGAIN……to all you hard workers who donated your time and money to make this first Trails Restoration at Green Pine Lake happen. I have said this hundreds of time before…..Michigan has the very best Volunteers ANYWHERE. They give so much for ALL the people of our beautiful state!

Thanks for all the pictures too. 馃檪 I collected them from all over Facebook and the NET and put as many as I could find, right here in the Slideshow. Very Cool to see what all of you did and accomplished.

Car Camping

With the big resurgence in Camping here in Michigan, many people are getting out to the Parks and doing just that. Camping also makes for a less expensive and more enjoyable Vacation as well. When was the last time you headed up north, set up Camp and enjoyed the beautiful places that are just everywhere in Michigan?

Camping does not have to always be a small Tent in the middle of nowhere. Many people do what I call….CAR CAMPING. pack that car up in the right way, get a larger Tent that is roomy and very comfortable, and even set it up at a Campground that may have all the amenities you would like to see. Hot water showers, Flush toilets, Running water and all those little things that will make your Car Camping experience something very rewarding.

Rather then a local Motel, setting up that tent, near the shoreline of a beautiful Lake or Pond, and establishing your base Camp, will allow you to explore right from your Camp site. Walk 100 yards and Fish. Hike right from your Camp site. A Campfire anytime you want one. Just a few of the benefits you get from Camping.

Mark and I put together a few sheets of what we thought where the basics to packing up the car and getting a Camp site at the right Campground for the weekend. You will of course add to the lists we have created here. But we think we have covered the basic needs of almost anyone who wanted to do a Car Camping weekend.

Car Camping is a GREAT way to see Michigan. It is much less expensive then Motels, and it gets you right there, into the beautiful spots you went to see to begin with. No need to leave the Motel or Bed & Breakfast to head out to that Lake or Trails. It is right there just off your Camp site. Done correctly, you will not even have to drive to many of the things you came to experience. You can get to them right from your Camp site.











You can download the CAR CAMPING info sheets here. Get out and see our beautiful state of Michigan. Do it in a very personal and up close way, by Car Camping. You will not regret it. There are so many different kinds of Campground around our state. Some have every amenity you could ever need, and others are more Rustic. Choose what best fits you and or your Family, and GO GET OUTDOORS in Michigan.


Silent Sports

I just read an article called silent sports. It had some interesting points and observations, but also went to places I just did not understand. It is getting to the point that I need an interpreter to read some of these articles, reports and studies about Nature and the outdoors.


Is it a bad thing now, to just enjoy the outdoors. The Nature aspects of being in the Forest, exploring the shoreline of a remote lake or pond, Fishing, sitting quietly on the edge of a Meadow with binoculars and waiting to see what I can spot emerging into that Meadow?


Why is everything now a Sport? Challenging……something to be conquered. What happened to just the enjoyment of a special ecosystem or quite place? A place that the only sounds are those of the natural world around you. That stream flowing over the rocks, the wind whipping through the Pine Trees, the Birds singing and fluttering overhead.

SunsetHollyThese are calming things. Things that allow us to turn off from the hectic world and get us connected again, to the Natural world. We need these things as humans. Everything cannot be a challenge, Adventure, Conquering moment or Adrenaline filled experience. What about learning something while we listen to the silence?

Maybe all the direct connections we now have with our cell phones, Tablets and communication devices will no longer allow these quite times. but all it takes is the OFF switch. Turn OFF these devices. Turn OFF that fake need for constant excitement and movement. Be silent with the outdoors. Experience it without hurting, conquering or flying by it. STOP…….SIT or SLOW DOWN…..and see just what you have been missing. Really look around you. See ALL the wonders that make up Michigan’s Forests, Shorelines, Lakes Streams and Natural World.

BoardwalklightThere is plenty of time for all the gadgets and fast paced stuff. Everything does not have to be done quickly or with an intensity that makes it no longer enjoyable, but rather a task that needs to be accomplished in some way. How about accomplishing nothing other then a quiet moment with the critters and natural life in the many beautiful places in Michigan. You do not need any other inanimate objects. You do not need to have any skills at any so called particular Sport. All you need is the effort at walking or Hiking to that special place and relaxing by blending into it all. Pretty simple, easy and actually rewarding.

We need these moments as humans. Especially these days, as life has become so intense and busy for every waking minute of the day. Enjoy the Silence. Enjoy the Quite. Bring nothing with you, and take nothing away but the experience. Maybe a picture or two. 馃檪

Why so Different Now?

I have lived my entire life in Michigan. I am third generation Michigander and very proud of that fact. I have always felt very connected to my state. Mostly through the outdoors. The Lands, Waterways, Parks, Rivers and Lakes. Since a child, these are the things I have always thought of when I thought of my state.

But recently. OH…..maybe the last 5-6 years now, I have seen a huge change in how the people in power in Michigan view my state. They think all of the things that have defined Michigan, are for sale in some way. They do not seem to understand the delicate interconnections there are between the Land and Waterways…..between the wildlife and the Trees. They just seem to think that you can sell all the Trees and it does not affect anything else. Or you can drain the fresh waters and it does not affect anything else. I do not understand this thinking. And apparently these interconnections are not understood by our Representatives.

I write this Blog on our North/Central groups site, because I feel that the people living outside of the more populated Southeastern Michigan regions understand this at a deeper level. Now do not be insulted S.E.Michigan people. Many of you know exactly what I am saying here too. I just have seen that most people outside of S.E.Michigan actually live the connections I have mentioned above.

These are not Political things I speak of here. Although some of the issues and reasons why they are happening may have political connections somewhere, that is not their primary beginnings. Money seems to be the starting points on much of these things. But how can anyone think that we can sell our beauty, our Fresh Waters and abundant wildlife in Michigan and not pay a very dear price at some point in time?

I know this may sound naive, but I just do not understand these things. For me, Michigan is my Home, and I could never divide up pieces of my Home and sell them or abandon them for anything. money, Career, or anything. Like the BILL SB 78 that is running through Lansing at this moment. If this Legislation passes through Lansing it will remove Biodiversity and it’s protection in Michigan. Without Biodiversity, we will be left with Zebra Muscles and Asian Carp in our Lakes, and a slew of about dozen Invasive Species being the dominant plants through out our state’s lands. Then what?

There is almost no returning from that. Yet these Senators and their backers push these things through Lansing, for money today, and Nothing tomorrow. They want to sell my Home. Our Home. I thought we had hired professionals and pay them to watch over at least our communal State Lands & Waterways through OUR Department of Natural Resources. Yet OUR state agency has not only failed us but in many case they are in connections with these senators and criminal businesses and Non Profit groups who want to sell pieces of our Home with no regard to what will happen to what is left after they get done with their little piece of controlling things for THEIR little groups.

The majority of us true Michiganders are left with their scraps. Trying to fix what they have destroyed in the name of THEIR little Non Profit group or Company. Again….while the people from our DNR just sit and watch or help them do these things. I can hardly believe some of the things I have witnessed over the last two years or so. I would never have believed these kinds of things could ever happen in Michigan or by our DNR if you asked me 10 years ago. But here they are. A DNR who’s main focus is controlling our Outdoor recreational experiences. Are you Kidding me? I can select what I want to do on my Lands & waterways, and we all expect YOU, our DNR to do the jobs you where hired to do. Watch over the health and well being of our states Natural resources. Get your faces out of our Outdoor Recreational experiences and selections. And forget about sponsoring state Ice creams too. Stupid.

All I can say anymore is……..Help save our Home here in Michigan. Stop our own DNR from destroying it all. Stop these Non Profit groups in connection with our DNR from destroying whatever they want to, just to get a new BIKE Pathway or Recreational activity that is the rage at this time. Ask our DNR why Invasive Species rule our Lands & Waterways while they spend our PASSPORT money on Programs like, “CONQUERING RECREATION 101”, or millions of our dollars given to groups and communities to further build more BIKE Pathways around our state while neglecting Biodiversity and the protection of our Forests and Lakes.

Sometimes one must stand up and protect their Home from intruders. That time has come for us true Michiganders, before it is all taken away, sold down the road or crippled to the point of not repairable. We now must watch things much closer. Do not believe what you hear from these people. The DNR, Non Profit Groups connected at the hip with our DNR, or any of these so called “STAKEHOLDERS” the DNR likes to refer to the people that back THEIR plans in OUR HOME state. Investigate what they are telling us, because most of the time, it is not the truth. Do not let our Home go away on simple lies from simple minded thieves. Their goals are that of money…..Careers….Power and Control. They do not care about our HOME…..MICHIGAN!