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Monday, 18 March 2013
2013 Starting Out GRAND!

We had a slow Fall this year. Some personal health issues and bad weather canceled a number of schedule HIKES and activities. that did not stop the membership though. The S.E.Michigan Hiking group alone, crossed the 6,000 member mark, making Hiking Michigan the largest hiking Organization in the state of Michigan, and the second largest Outdoor Group in the whole state too. With the new branch of HM, the Hiking North/Central Michigan group getting moving now, and already at almost 1,000 members, we can expect to be well over 10,000 total Hiking Michigan members be this summers end. that will make us the largest Outdoor group ever to exist in Michigan. Quite the achievement!!!!!!!!!!

Our HM Blog site just crossed the 50,000 view total, limit. Somewhat of a record for such a short time in existance. And the Hiking Michigan Outdoor NewsLetter continues to exceed over 20,000 Downloads per issue, statewide.
We just celebrated our 15 year Birthday with a special Mapbook HIKE at the place we first held a HIKE, Stony Creek Metro Park. On what was a pretty cold and windy Saturday afternoon, we still had 40 Hikers show up to say Happy Birthday!

As we move into the Springtime and warmer months, we hope to see you all out on a Hike in Southeastern Michigan, or one of our upcoming Trails Restoration Projects or Overnight Campouts with the new North/Cenytral Hiking group. Either way......See you all out on the Trails in 2013.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Christmas BIRD Count

Every year at Christmas time, the Michigan Audubon Society sponsors it's annual Winter Bird count. This is not just a Fun activity for the whole family, but it is valuable information that is collected on the health and where-abouts of many different Bird species through out our state of Michigan.
Please head over to their web site at the Link below and take a look at what it takes to participate in this annual Bird Count.

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Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Orienteering Basics

We will be restarting our regular ORIENTEERING programs in the spring of 2013. Just maybe, we might do one this Winter. It will depend on how harsh of season it is. This program we have done for many years, except the last 2 years. Things got a little busy with the huge increase in membership, now over 5,000.
But we are ready once again to start up this interesting program. We use two different Parks to do this program at. One is a remote section of Holly Wildlife land, and another is a remote area at Ortonville Recreation area. Not that there is not remote places everywhere, there. happy.gif
So in the meantime, take a look at our recent Blog posting on Orienteering, and download the PDF INFO sheets. We have put those together from the years of doing the Orienteering program before we stopped for a bit.

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Sunday, 19 August 2012
EAGLE Scout Project - September 8th

Eagle Scout project at Algoe Lake. Come on out and lend a hand on a great cause, and at the same time, experience a rare FEN area. Does'nt get much better then this. Join Scouts and Volunteers, all joining together to save this rare FEN area by removing encrouching Invasive Species. Check out the Flyers below for further details.

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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
New FORUM/Bulletin Board coming

We are installing and tweaking a brand new Forum/Bulletin Board at this moment. The new Forums will be much easier to follow and use. Posting pictures and attachments will be sending in those Hike photos will be no problem anymore.
The new Forums will also have a place for this who want to set up Car Pooling or overnight says for the North/Central groups Hikes, can put together something with other members. It should be a BIG improvement in a number of areas dealing with info, pictures and even equipment reviews.
We are working on it at this moment, so look for somethinge very new very soon.

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Friday, 16 March 2012
Leave Wildlife WILD

I was reading a Post from our friend Sue Tabor from Outdoor Beginnings & the BOW program with the DNR. She relayed an article from the DNR that talked about leaving baby critters alone. That what may look like an abandoned Deer, lets say, is most likely not what it appears. That brought to mind a story I still remember as if it happened yesterday

About 14 years ago, I was drawing up my first Mapbook draft. So almost ever evening or late afternoon, I headed for a large Pine tree stand that bordered some beautiful rolling meadows near my home. I went to the same spot under the Pine trees and sat on the soft needles, while I edited the Mapbook.

Seems this was a great place for Mom deer to bring her two fawns to graze and play in the Meadow, with deep Pine tree cover near by. At first Mom was leery of me and kept her youngsters either away from me or under close surveillance. But as each day went on, she realized I was not there to cause harm to her youngsters or herself.

So after a month or so, the youngsters would run to within 30 feet of where I was sitting and back to Moms side. All in fun and with no concern from Mom any longer. This went on for the entire Spring and most of the Summer months, as I returned very consistently, almost every late afternoon, to sit in the same spot and work.

The next year, in the Spring, I was editing another work in progress. This time I picked a little knoll that overlooked a stream in the area, not to far from the Meadow I had spent so much time in, the year before.

One late afternoon, while I sat on a log and edited away, I was suddenly startled by a sound very close to where I was sitting. There, approaching me directly, and wagging its tail, was one of the fawns I had watched all spring & summer the year before. I cannot tell you exactly how I knew this, other then I recognized him. He recognized me too.

I believe he was coming over to say Hi or greet me or something along the lines of..Hey..I remember You..Mom said you where OK. I watched as he came directly towards me, tail wagging, and I swear he was smiling. There was calm in the air and no danger was present at all. I knew this deer was going to come all the up to me if I let him. I wanted to let him. But at the same time I realized I would be training him to be OK with humans. This would not be a good thing for his long term survival.

So at the last minute, when he was about 20 yards from me, I shooed him. He stopped, almost startled by my behaviour. I had to shoo him again before he turned around and walked to the top of the adjoining hilltop. He stopped there, looked at me for a minute or so, and then walked slowly away, over the small ridge. He appeared to be puzzled by my actions and the whole experience.

For a moment I was sad. I had made a friend the year before and this deer trusted me enough to approach me the following year. And what did I do.scare him away. But then I realized that I scared him into a longer life. A life in which he remained a wild critter, and not one that felt comfortable enough to possibly approach another human.

Wild is meant to be wild. Thats part of what we enjoy in the Wilderness and why it exists as Wilderness. A picture of Mom and the two fawns is on the rear cover of that Mapbook I worked on that year.

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Tuesday, 31 January 2012
A Smell Memory

Have you ever got a whiff of a particular smell, and you where suddenly flooded with all types of memories of an experience or place you had been? Smell can be one of the biggest memory triggers in the brain.

This past weekend I had a conversation with a very experienced outdoors women who was telling me a story of how she creates Smell Memories with her grand-kids. She will take them on an outing, and then at a certain moment, gather them together and ask them to concentrate on what they smell. It can be anything. And each child seems to get a different focus on what it is they are smelling. Not always the same smells for each child. Latershe talks with the children about their experiences together and what they had smelled.

I realized as she was telling me this wonderful story, just how important smell was to me. Especially in my outdoor experiences. I thought about how I would see a sunset or tree-line and it would remind me of a place I had been. But when it came to a smell memory, my mind was flooded with all types of memories of something I had done or a place I had been. The memory was so much stronger.

Taste works very much the same way. Although it is harder to taste everything around you. I thought about that one too, and figured that was why I put so many things into my mouth while out on the trail. Not recommended behaviour. There are so many memories of outdoor places that I have, that are connected to auromas or specific smells.

So remember this the next time you are watching that sunset, or coming over that bluff to a spectacular Pine forest on the horizon. Stop for a moment, get that picture in your head, and them connect it to what it is you smell at that specific moment. Then log it with your other Smell Memories.

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Sunday, 18 December 2011
1/27-29/12 BOW Discovery Weekend

 Winter Discovery Weekend
January 27-29, 2012 at RAM Center, Roscommon
Join Sue Tabor and her BOW team for an exciting Winter Weekend on Higgens Lake, at the DNR RAM Center, for the Winter Discovery Weekend. All types of outdoor classes and Programs availible for Women over this weekend. Great package deals.
I am proud to be participating with Sue's team as one of the Class Instructors for Winter Hiking.
Check out the DNR web site for all the details, costs and locations. A great get-a-way for all women.,1607,7-153-10369_15424---,00.html

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Monday, 28 November 2011
Albino Squirrel at Kensington

Rosie & Larry sent in this picture of a quick moving Squirrel they say at Kensington Metro Park. It is hard to tell from the picture, but I looked at the few pctures they sent me, in Photoshop, up close. It IS an Albino squirrel. Interestingly enough, I guess this is starting to become, not so rare in parts of the country. I did a little research, and found a map of some of the many sightings of different kinds of Albino Squirrels.

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Thursday, 24 November 2011
HERBCRAFT Thanks Giving

in a now annual declaration of thanksgiving, I wanted to express my deep gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to all of you. It's such an honor to share the ways of the plants, and to restore lost wisdom to common knowledge in an ever widening circle of plant people. I'm so grateful to support and be supported by you all... my students, my friends, my teachers (and who can tell which is which, or whether any isn't all?) it makes my heart swell.

evergreen blessings to you and all you love on this day and all others...
jim mcdonald

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Thursday, 10 November 2011
Heron Nest Recovery attempt

Naturalist Dan Farmer, with the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center, was joined by Rob Golda and two other volunteers, in an attempt to recover a Heron's nest that had fallen from it's perch, some 80' in one of the nesting trees, only to be caught by a smaller tree, about 10' from the ground.
This odd accurance, produced an opportunity to possibly recover this nest, for study and display at the Nature Center. Holland Ponds park has the largest Great Blue Heron rookery in Southeastern Michigan, and produced 39 active nests this last season. This fallen nest was occupied, fledged some youngsters, and then was blown out of the nesting tree after all the Herons had left for the season.
The crew managed, without to much difficulty, to get the nest down from it's 10' high perch. But the group discovered some hazardous things. Once the nest was on the ground, it was apparent the Herons not only  excrement around the outside of their nest, to keep the foliage dead and cleared from predators climbing the nesting tree and harming the young, but they also leave droppings through out the entire nest. The nest was literally covered, inside and out with their acidic and semi-toxic droppings. Not possible to handle this nest, yet alone bring it back to the Nature Center.
The group did log the entire venture as well as examined the nest in detail, there on the ground, below the nesting trees. It was observed that there was no down feathers lining the nest, nor was there anything of a cushion inside the nest. A slight gathering of smaller twigs lined the bottom of the nest. With the Herons being wet from fishing all the time, the inside of the nest was covered in droppings and mold. Surely there where also parasites and toxins unknown, deep inside this nest. Not a very pretty sight.
Another interesting thing about the nest, was how poorly it was made. The branches and twigs that comprised the nest, where not inter-weaved with one another, rather, they where just stacked upon one another. With only light touches to the nest while examination, it disintegrated before our eyes. Not quite sure how these nest survive heavy winds and rains that pound them in the summer months. Maybe t is the weight of the youngsters holding down the actual nest, that holds it together.
We logged many pictures and video of the recovery and examination. Although we could not take this wonderful find back to the Shadbush Nature Center, we all still felt privileged to have examined a Heron's nest so closely. A once in ten lifetimes experience.
Read the whole review and see the vieo at this link:

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Sunday, 30 October 2011
Wolcott Mill HIKE reviewed

Well..this hike turned out to be something completely different then expected. Thought we would explore some of the old trails on the northern side of the Dam, up river. Well we did that, but it also rained and hailed on us. This did not seem to fluster most of the Group.
Once we got to the old bridge on what is now a trail called 30 mile rd., we turned along the rivers edge and followed an old trail there. It disappeared and we ended up Bushwhacking through some pretty tuff terrain. Again..the Group went along and explore together. This was of course when the rain and hail started.
I found it quite interesting that under some of the worse conditions we could have gotten, the Group all pulled together, took care of one another and we made our way through all of this to get back to the main trails.
We looped back down the Mother Earth trail and returned to a flooded Parking lot. My car was now parked in the middle of a lake. About 10 of us headed over to the Farm, and just caught the end of Free Cider & Doughnuts. Nice to sit in the Farm greenhouse and relax to munchies and cider. A very nice ending to a tuff day on the trails.

Lots of pictures on the HM BLOG:

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Friday, 28 October 2011
Winter Wear Hike/Campfire/Vittles

We will be starting off November with a Winter Wear Hike, out at Holly Rec. Area. We are using Holly, because of the great Campfire area we have at the Trailhead there. If weather permits, it will be the last Night Hike of the year. The more important theme for the Hike, will be Winter Wear on display. Polypropylene everything, Gators, Yak-Trax and many other Winter Hiking gear will be there to examine and discuss.
There will be our usual skinned Kosher Hot Dogs for the fire, as well as Muffins and other treats. Look for this Hike on the new HIKES SCHEDULE, due out next week.

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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Why Leaves Change Color

So why do leaves change colors in the Fall? By answering that question, you can almost put together an upcoming Fall Colors tour and guarantee you will get some of the most brilliant and varied Fall colors imaginable. Check out the Info sheet and plan your next Fall Colors viewing trip.
Download the Info sheet here:

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Sunday, 4 September 2011
44th issue of the HM NewsLetter

The latest HM NewsLetter is out and ready to either read on-line or download. We are very happy to have two new writers with the NewsLetter. First.....Naturalist Dan Farmer, who will be doing a column called, :The NATURALIST at LARGE". This issue Mr. Farmer is covering Plant basics. Secondly, we have Janet M. Hug taking over the "BIRDING in S.E.MI." column. Janet is both Birder and photographer, so we very much look forward to not only interesting Bird articles, but some outstanding pictures as well.
We hope you all enjoy our 44th edition of the HM OUTDOORS NEWS.

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Sunday, 7 August 2011
Trail Leaders.........Thanks Mike

Learned alot this last Saturday. Our Hog Backs Park HIKE was led by Mike, who did a spectacular job of showing off a very Cool Park. Normally I lead the Hikes, and not because I insist on this, but because there are not many volunteers to do this position. On this last Hike, I got a chance to play "Sweeper". That's the person who is at the back of the Hikers, making sure no one gets behind them or lost.
Now......normally I am alert to all my surroundings when it comes to directions and just exactly where we are. But on this Hike, since it was a new Park, and Mike had things under control, leading the group, I just gawked around at the forest and terrain and just made sure I was always last in line. But I never kept track of where we were. INTERESTING.

On most of our Hikes, I ask the hikers from time to time, Hey....where are we? and some can tell me, and others do not have a clue. This puzzled me. How could anyone not feel odd about not knowing where they were out on a trail. I know the reasons why. With an experienced guide in front, and someone keeping track of the rear, it's time to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer out on the trails. It is exactly what I did. And I now get it. Thanks for guiding us all safely and correctly in our journey around the Hog Backs, Mike. I very much enjoyed my tripping and gawking at everything while I never considered just where we were at. happy.gif Had a great time!

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Thursday, 28 July 2011
Photography 101 Class 8/3/11

A friend of ours and the tent next to us at Holly's RECREATION 101 Event a couple of months ago, was Mark Hicks, of Mark Hicks Photography. Well.....Mark is continueing with the RECREATION 101 Programs, by offering an Outdoor Photography class, out at Highland Recreation Area, on Wednesday, 8/3/11. Details and times can be had by visiting Mark's Blog at:

Highland Recreation Area has so many opportunities for beautiful outdoor photography, and there is no better way then having an expert show you some of the tips and tricks to capturing beautiful photographs at the Park. This is a hands-on program, so bring those cameras along.
See You all there.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011
My Summer Vacation 2011

ust returned from a week at Seney Wildlife Refuge in the U.P., and Wilderness State Park, near the bridge. A completely nature type of vacation. Little to No people, and nothing but wildlife and plants and trees. Not to mention the fabulous sunsets on lake Michigan.
Also spent a little time in Petosky near Harbor Springs and Boyne. Wonderful Nature Preserve there, along lake Michigan. Rare plants and trees, and looked after in a fanatical manner. The Thorn Swift Preserve is worth the trip alone. Located just before the Tunnel of Trees along the coast, north of Harbor Springs.
After this very active Nature vacation, I need another vacation just to actually rest up. Worth every moment. Oh Yatemps around 73 degrees, with no humidity and that always present slight breeze off of lake Michigan. The PERFECT weather conditions!

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Relaxing at Seney Wildlife Refuge, watching an Eagles nest and eating wild Blueberries

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5 "Skipper" butterflies on one thistle. They where everywhere.

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Sunset on Petosky beach, overlooking the Harbor Springs peninsula.

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The Thorn Swift Nature Preserve along lake Michigan, north of Harbor Springs.

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One of the many Dam/Spillways that control water on the Ponds and Pools that make up Seney Wildlife Refuge

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Many of the sandy shorelines at Seney, contain high iron concentrates, so they have an orange color

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The Refuge is located south of Pictured Rocks in the U.P.

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Sunset over lake Michigan in the "Tunnel of Trees" area, south of Wilderness State Park

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Monday, 4 July 2011
August Exploratory HIKES/Bushwhack

The first week in August we will be doing something a little hardcore, in a way. We have been working with the Boy Scout Troop from Ortonville, in Mapping and Gpsing the entire Park, in preparations in making an official proposal to the DNR on a major Trails System or looped trails, with the longest being over 35 miles, and called the BIG LOOP trail.
We have been exploring and GPSing many of the older trails. Some abandon for years and others just needing a little work to be brought back to life. Still others have vanished halfway down the trail. Some of the early explorations have been very fun and interesting. But now we are getting down to some of the final "link" trails, that will join together most of the already clocked and marked trails we have explored and mapped. On this master Map is also Historical points, old Farm settlements with only foundations or remnants remaining.

These next few Hikes at Ortonville Recreation area will be very important to this Project, and are also some of the most vague and still to be explored older trails and Platt map farm roads inside the Park. We will be posting a couple of exploratory Hikes and mapping adventures in August and September, that will finish this master map of the Park. Some of these Hikes will end in a nice relaxing Campfire and some viddles. Others we will just walk away with the sweat and knowledge we gained from heavy explorations.

Look for posted dates soon, on these Hikes. Those interested in something a little different then a stroll in the Park, these Hikes will be for You. Rolling terrain, some trails that just end in nothing, and some trails that are there but near impassable because of the many years of non-use. So join us in August and September for something very different. True explorations and some Bushwhacking thrown in. Get out those GPS units and compasses and get ready to test your skills and abilities.

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Robin Nest Video

Linda sent in this Link. Pretty Cool stuff! Watch a Robin raise her chicks, till they fly away.

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