Month: August 2020

August 14 and 15

Udell Hills Road to Udell Trailhead

5.5 miles: 153.1 miles total

Most of this section of trail follows a ridgeline that is the western edge of an large elevated glacial deposit called the Udell Hills. Although I enjoyed the hike I’ve found that upland forests present less opportunities for photography than wetlands and meadows.

The next day was drizzly and cloudy so I explored the area without going on a longer hike.

Fringed loosestrife was blooming by my campsite at the Pine Lake National Forest Campround.
Showy tick trefoil was blossoming in abundance along the Manistee River below the Sawdust Hole National Forest Campground.

August 7

Freesoil trailhead to Riverside Drive

5.6 miles: 147.6 miles total

A long boardwalk crosses a wetland just north of the Freesoil trailhead
I was surprised to pass this grassy meadow along the trail since this is not a common ecosystem in these parts.
I was able to walk to the center of this mature bog on the spongy surface of sphagnum moss.
Woodland sunflowers are native to Michigan. I’ve most often encountered them along roadsides.

August 6

5 Mile Road to Freesoil Trailhead

4 miles: 142 miles total

At this point the trail diverts about 3 miles to the west, passing along 5 mile road through a cottage community around a cluster of small lakes.

The trail passed through a small grove of large white pines. I’m always happy to see these mature trees and can only imagine what the primeval forest looked like before logging stripped the land. I’ll confess, it seemed a bit disrespectful to tag this elder tree with the NCT blue blaze.
Artist’s conk is so called because the delicate white under surface when scratched with a sharp object reveals dark brown tissue–kind of like a natural etch a sketch. If you look closely you can see a faint light streak flowing from the left edge which was the spores being released into the breeze.
This cardinal flower was growing near the bridge over Muckwa Creek.

July 30

Centerline road to 5 mile road

7 miles: 138 miles total

This section of trail passes through relatively flat terrain, passing by remote McCarthy Lake and crossing over the headwaters of the Big Sable River. It was mushroom season along the North Country Trail. Although I’ve eaten some of the most obvious edible mushrooms that grow in Michigan, I’m not enough of a mycologist to confidently identify most mushrooms I encounter on the trail.

Harebell blossom
White water lilies floating along the shore of McCarthy Lake.
Remote McCarthy Lake has a National Forest Service campsite on it’s northern shore accessible by a very rough Forest Service road.
Orange meadowhawk dragonflies are common in open areas of bracken fern.
Headwaters of the Big Sable river

July 29

Centerline Road to Wingleton Road

7.5 miles: 131 miles total

This small nest made of pine needles and lichen is likely that of a ruby throated hummingbird.
The sun shines through a fern frond.
The tiny pink blossoms of the pointed-leaved tick-trefoil are clustered at the end of a long leafless stalk.

July 25

Bowman Trailhead to Upper Branch Bridge

5 miles: 123.5 miles total

This section of trail wanders through rolling hills before descending into the lowlands along the Pere Marquette river. I didn’t have a lot of photographic success on this hike, but the view of the river just before reaching the bridge was beautiful.

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