Month: July 2020

June 12

Croton Dam to Pine Road

3 miles round trip: 53 miles total

After a long stretch of road miles north of the Rogue River State Game Area, the North Country Trail begins to pass through land held by the Huron-Manistee National Forest just below the Croton dam on the Muskegon River.

This Gray Spring Moth was unusually happy to pose for a photo.
I think this little guy is an Oak Leafroller caterpillar.
Squawroot is a non-photosynthetic plant that relies on a parasitic connection to the roots of host trees for its nourishment. It gets its common name from its usage by Native American women to treat menstrual cramps.

I invited my assistant, Alex, to join me for this afternoon hike and she was kind enough to capture this video. Gosh I look old!

June 7

Red Pine Drive to County Line Road

10 miles round trip: 50 miles total

The next day I completed my hike through the Rogue River State Game Area. If June 6 was notable for the wildlife I saw, today was all about wildflowers.

The Rogue River as it passes through the Rogue River State Game Area
A blue iris blooms along the edge of a bog in the Rogue River State Game Area
Golden Ragwort blooms along the North Country Trail as it passes through the Rogue River State Game Area.

June 6

Sherwin Street to Red Pine Drive

5 miles round trip: 40 miles total

After almost a week’s break, I returned to the trail where it passes through the Rogue River State Game Area. This area preserves about 6,000 acres of river flood plain, lowland and upland forests. It’s managed to create habitat and recreational opportunities for a variety of wildlife. Target shooting is permitted year-round and on the weekend I was passing through gunfire was a somewhat disconcerting constant. I eventually realized it all seemed concentrated in one location on the far side of the Rogue River so I don’t think there is much danger if you stick to the trail.

This is a typical view of the flood plain along the Rogue River.
The male ebony jewelwing damselfly has an iridescent blue-green body and black wings. They’re very territorial and will return to the same perch repeatedly, though they won’t let you get too close. I used a Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached to give me the reach and magnification I need to get this shot.
The female ebony jewelwing is less showy than the male, but has beautiful translucent wings and distinct white patches on top of the wings near the back.
A wild raspberry blossom.
The wood frogs were very active when I was passing through the Rogue River State Game Area. This small brown specimen is probably a male since the females are red and larger. He seemed pretty certain that he was invisible among the leaf litter on the forest floor.
The eastern American toad is one of only two species found in Michigan

May 31

Rockford dam to 16 Mile Road

10 miles round trip: 35 miles total

The next section of trail followed the White Pine Trail State Park for about 7 miles between Rockford and Cedar Springs. This is a paved rail trail that parallels the Rogue River for a while and then passes through a mixed suburban/rural landscape. I cheated a bit and rode my bike on this section. I prefer a more natural landscape, so the highlight for me was a brief diversion into the Maas Family Nature Preserve.

The North Country Trail follows the White Pine trail beginning just north of the dam on the Rogue River in Rockford.
A cheery hedge of Dame’s Rocket lines the trail just north of Rockford. This is yet another introduced species that has escaped gardens and become naturalized.
The Maas Family Nature Preserve is managed for its healthy carpet of Wild Lupine, which is the only food for the caterpillar of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.

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