Thursday, December 2, 2010


If you haven't tried geocaching you should check it out.
It's a treasure hunt using your GPS :)
You will be amazed at all the treasures hidden on your regular walking paths, hiking destinations, and even right around your house!

The concept is easy.  Someone hides something and you find it.

What you might find:
  • Log book and pen to record your visit
  • Themed cache (take something, leave something)
  • Cash prize for the 1st find
  • Coordinates to another cache (for a great hike)
  • Travel Bug (moves from cache to cache)
  • Something totally awesome

You will find everything you need here:
If you click on Hide and Seek a Cache and enter your address/location it will bring up all the caches in your area.  You will have to create a login in order to see the coordinates, but it will only take a minute.

Don't forget that most GPS receivers are accurate from 10-50 ft. so once you arrive at the location, you will have to look around for the cache.  Some caches have a hint online in case you need it.  Also, don't let any muggles see you! ;)

You may even want to hide a cache yourself. Happy hide and seeking!  :P

Sunday, October 24, 2010

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park

Today was a great day for hiking around P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon, MI. There are a number of trails to choose from. If you want a short hike and some great views, park near the visitor center and take the boardwalks to the dune overlook platforms and then out to Lake Michigan. If you want a longer hike, you can take the beach and come back on the Homestead Trail making it a 3-mile loop. You will experience a lot of different terrain: Beach, dunes, and woods. There are interpretive signs along the trail to make the trip a learning experience. :)

Area Map
DNR Website
Google Maps

Since this is a state park you will need a vehicle permit. You can purchase one as you drive in for $10/year which is also good for other state parks in Michigan.
Boardwalk to Beach

Dune Overlook Platform

Found in Quiet Area

Interpretive Signs in Park

Homestead Trail
Homestead Trail
Lake Michigan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hidden Gem: Short hikes in your area

Hodenpyl Woods
2500 Robinson Rd. (North of Remington Park)
34.06 Acres

My friend, Lyn, just introduced me to a short secluded hike just minutes from where we work.  It seems like you are in the middle of the woods even though it is nestled in the middle of suburbia.

There are numbered and lettered posts scattered along the trail.
The numbered posts identify trees and bushes, and the lettered posts identify the wildflowers. Take this map and plant identification with you when you go for an educational .9 mile loop in the woods.
Hodenpyl Woods Trail Map
Plant Identification

We parked at Mayflower church on Robinson
and found a small trail off the road, but I believe
you can also leave your car at Remington Park.
"This area is home to numerous Eagle Scout projects.  This .9 mile loop is connected by several foot bridges and a floating bridge.  The trails are rustic and provide a wonderful and quiet experience with nature." -

Do some investigation around your home and work area.  You may find a hidden gem too.

Here is another link to check out:
Grand Rapids Trail Information


Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn in Michigan

It's that time of year, when my favorite season is here!
Red, yellow, orange, and brown, and critters all around.
Grab my pack, throw it on my back.
With my hubby and my puppy, into the woods we go.
You should do the same, before the leaves fall again!

Why Leaves Change Color

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jordan River Valley Pathway

Another great Michigan hike is the Jordan River Valley Pathway.  You can choose from a short 3-mile loop around Deadman's Hill or a moderate to challenging 18-mile loop on the Jordan River Pathway and North Country Trail.
Sign at Deadman's Hill Scenic Overlook Parking Lot

Check out this link for information on what to expect and how to get there:
Jordan River Pathway Loop Hike

Maps: Maps and Trail Data

Printable brochure: Take a Hike on the Jordan River Pathway

DNR Link:  Jordan River Valley

Historic Post Marker
Along the trail we saw posts with numbers on them, but didn't know what they were for.  My Dad and I bumped into some people who told us each post explained some historic information about each area and that we could get a pamphlet from the DNR.
It would have been nice to have this with us on our hike, and I will be sure to take it in the future: Numbered Posts - Scenic, biological, and historic markers

Campsite at Pinney Bridge
Pinney Bridge Campground:  This is a hike or canoe in campground.  It has potable water (hand pump water well), 15 tent sites with picnic tables, outhouses, and fire rings.  There is a $15/night camping fee.  It is self-registration and you can deposit cash or checks.

This link previews Jim DuFresne's book related to the Jordan River Pathway, look at pages 98-104. I recommend purchasing this book for this hike, and other Michigan hikes: Backpacking in Michigan

Oct 2010 - Colors are beautiful
Landslide Overlook
My Dad and Chopper
Saw a lot of different mushrooms

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits: Hunting Season in Michigan

With hunting season in upon us in Michigan, we need to take more precaution when trip planning and hiking.

Here is a link to the Michigan 2010 Hunting and Trapping Digest.
It lists the 2010-2011 hunting seasons:

Michigan DNR Service Centers: Contact Information
(Phone numbers listed below map)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Not a Walk in the Park... Or Is It? Isle Royale Trip Report 2010

Yes, we made it back... and our trip to Isle Royale was great! :) We had great weather for the most part however it did get rainy and windy at the end of our trip. Isle Royale is definitely worth a visit. There are plenty of beautiful views, trails, campsites, and nature. I have to say the sound of the loons is quite amazing. Unfortunately we did not get to hear wolves howling or see any moose.

I used all the information in my previous Isle Royale Trip Planning blog and it all worked out great. We did not have any issues. We even read pages from the Jim DuFresne book about the history and what we would be hiking the next day and put the waterproof map through the rain test and it passed!

Minong Ridge
 Our Itinerary:
Day 1: Copper Harbor to Rock Harbor via Queen, hike to Three Mile Day
2: Hike to Daisy Farm
Day 3: Take Voyageur to Windigo, camp at Washington Creek
Day 4: Hike to North Desor
Day 5: Hike to Little Todd
Day 6: Hike to Todd Harbor
Day 7: Hike to Chickenbone East
Day 8: Hike to Daisy Farm (originally headed to Lane Cove)
Day 9: Hike to Rock Harbor, Queen to Copper Harbor

Relaxing at Todd Harbor
 If you are coming into Rock Harbor you may want to stop in at Lane Cove on night one. This campsite is harder to get to, but you will avoid some of the crowd at Three Mile or Daisy Farm. We meant to hit Lane Cove on the way back, but the 70mph winds and rain sent us hiking for a shelter. The itinerary above is great if you are coming from Michigan, have some time to relax and ease into hiking (and lighten your load by eating your food!), then hit it really hard and experience what Isle Royale has to offer. The Minong trail is beautiful. Very technical in areas but well worth the work. Past cultures called it Minong meaning "a good place".

We debated on taking hiking poles, then decided we would each take one pole. I can't tell you how many times we said we were happy for bringing them. The terrain was rocky and technical with a lot of ups and downs. It was nice to have the hiking pole and it was never in the way or cumbersome to carry.

Blue-Bead Lily
Berries: There are many different berry plants. We went in Aug/Sept and only saw a few thimbleberries and rose hips which are both packed with Vitamin C.

When I was in Windigo I saw a bulletin board complete with pictures and information about the berries on Isle Royale. It was helpful because I was wondering what was edible for the first few days I was on the island. Thanks to an email response from a NPS Park Ranger and the Windigo staff I have the following list:

Edible Probably Shouldn't Eat Not Edible
Rose Hips - Prickly Rose  Rose Twisted Stalk Wild Sarsaparilla
Lowbush Blueberry
Canada Mayflower Blue-Bead Lily
Thimbleberry  American Mountain Ash White Baneberry
Raspberry Red Elderberry Red Baneberry

Wildlife: Here is a link to the study of The Wolves and Moose on Isle Royale:

We were surprised there weren't more animals on the island. We did see a red fox, snowshoe hare, and Red Squirrel, but the island is also populated with bats, america martin, mink, river otter, weasel, beaver, deer mouse, and muskrat. We also felt like we didn't hear many song birds, but here is a link to a list of birds on the island:



Campsites: Shows type and numbers of campsites at each location:

Surprisingly Isle Royale was not as desolate as we had expected. Most of the campsites have tent and shelter sites. Most all of the sites if not all of the sites have pit toilets and some sites have picnic tables. Keep in mind you can only have fires at campsites with a fire ring. On page 6 of the park newspaper there is a listing of what is available at the campsites:


Dehydrated Food: Our food worked out really well. We packed the perfect amount of food, were satisfied, and had no cravings! We found if you are not in a hurry your food will turn out the best. To rehydrate, boil the amount of water needed to rehydrate your meal.  Take the pot off the stove and add your food. We usually rehydrated our food for 30-45 mins before eating it. Wrapping a towel around the pot kept it nice and toasty and helped the process.

For each day we used a gallon size food saver bag and put our breakfast, lunch/trail snacks, dinner, dessert with a paper towel with all the contents written on it and then vacuumed sealed the bags. This worked out really great. It makes all the food compact and hard like a rock. Surprisingly we even took crackers and they were in great shape when we were ready to eat them, even though they were riding around in the bottom of our packs with all of our stuff on top! Each night we opened the next day's bag and divided up the food, so we each had our own snacks. This seemed to work our really well.

Other Pictures:








Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isle Royale Trip Planning

Here are some helpful resources if you are planning a trip to Isle Royale.

Isle Royale National Park Website
(Make sure to take a look at the park newspaper under brochures, handouts, and park newspaper.  It includes transportation information and schedules.)

NG Trail Map
High quality waterproof map.

Isle Royale, Foot Trail and Water Routes
Book by Jim DuFresne.  Has information on park history and detailed information on the trails.
Here is a preview of the book: Preview

Mileage Map:  Shows mileage between campsites

Forum/WebBoard: Read trip reports, post questions, etc.