Pierce road to 6 mile road

5.5 miles: 90.5 miles total

A week of brutally hot weather kept me off the trail–even I don’t want to hike when the heat index approaches 100! So I picked up where I left off when things cooled down a bit. I began with a short diversion to the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary , just a short distance off the trail. Mid July isn’t the best time to see wildflowers, but I enjoyed exploring the marshy area of Loda Lake near it’s outlet.

A green frog resting on a lily pad in Loda Lake.
A yellow pond lily blooms in Loda Lake.
As my hike takes me farther north, the forests are becoming more mature. This view of an oak forest with an understory of ferns is typical.
I’ve seen many swallowtail butterflies during my hikes but they are very skittish and difficult to photograph. This red spotted purple rested longer than most and seemed tolerant of my presence. My shots of the underside of its wings weren’t well focused but featured the red spots of its moniker.
This mourning cloak butterfly also seemed more than willing to pose for a photograph. One of the things I’ve especially enjoyed about this project is identifying and learning about the species that inhabit the ecosystems I’m exploring. I wish this subject had spread his wings since the top side is remarkably colorful.
I passed through a 200 acre preserve within the Manistee National Forest that is being managed to restore the oak savanna ecosystem that was present in this area prior to European settlement.
This female common whitetail seemed to appreciate the restored savanna.
One of the most eerie experiences I’ve had in nature is stumbling through swarms of gypsy moths apparently in a mating frenzy. There were thousands upon thousands of these pests frantically fluttering around every tree in the forest!