A few days ago I visited with my family the Great Smoky Mountains… or should it be Smokey?Into the Smoky Mountains
The Voyageur Hiking Trail runs between Sudbury and Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario, Canada. It is a public hiking trail whose name honors the European fur traders of the region who travelled the area mostly by canoe and were known as “voyageurs” (runners of the woods). Used by all ages and levels of experience, the trail is used by day hikers to the serious hardy backpackers.
The hiking trail crosses the vast privately and publicly owned forests of this rugged wilderness. Over half of the linear trail has been completed plus numerous side trails. Sault Ste. Marie is the largest city on the completed trail and is located between two of the Great Lakes………….Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The route runs alongside these two great bodies of water frequently touching the shoreline. Many other communities through which the trail passes include Elliot Lake, Iron Bridge, Wawa, Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Rossport and Nipigon.
You can refer to a trail guidebook that provides trail users with all of the up-to-date maps and descriptions of the available trails. In addition, digital maps can be downloaded to GPS units for on-trail navigation. Many trail users participate in Geocaching and the number of geocaches that can be found along the trail is continually increasing.
The Voyageur Trail is a pedestrian trail only….meaning that it is made for hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and bushwhack skiing. In most places, the trail is too rough for other uses. You will find fallen trees that lie across the path where your only choice is to climb over them. You will cross streams on beaver dams, rocks or logs. And the trail is advertised as a “true wilderness trail” because there are no facilities along the Voyageur Trail. Regardless of your physical condition you can expect to do approximately two kilometers per hour on the trail so plan your outing taking this into account. Some hikers have described it as “bushwhacking with blazes” and in some areas of the trail this description is true. (wiki)
Last week, Derek and I went to one of the largest zoos in the Midwest: The Milwaukee County Zoo. The Milwaukee County Zoo has a wide range of animals…Birding The Milwaukee County Zoo
Iowa is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states: Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east and southeast, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest, and Minnesota to the north.
Iowa’s bedrock geology generally decreases in age from east to west. In northwest Iowa, Cretaceous bedrock can be 74 million years old; in eastern Iowa Cambrian bedrock dates to c. 500 million years ago.
Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Iowa can be divided into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. Northeast Iowa along the Upper Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Area, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous.
To the east lies Clear Lake. Man-made lakes include Lake Odessa, Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Coralville Lake, Lake MacBride, and Rathbun Lake. Before European settlement, 4 to 6 million acres of the state was covered with wetlands, about 95% of these wetlands have been drained,
Places to visit:
The Blue Water River Walk is a one mile stretch of land that runs along the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan. It has it’s own unique naturalized shoreline that is made up from natural rocks, pebbles and boulders while also consisting of many native plants, flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in their own natural landscape and habitat onshore. The River Walk provides for a place where the natural habitat can thrive and visitors can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy looking for turtles, watch the freighters or enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.
A very unique and noticeably different feature of the new St. Clair river shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge boulder and stone structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These are huge offshore reefs that extend downwards almost 15 feet into the river bottom. These large boulders weigh as much as 4,000 pounds and are resting on two other layers…recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.
Perhaps the most striking different aspect of the new St. Clair River shoreline along the Blue Water River Walk is the huge stone and boulder structures sticking up from the water just offshore. These huge offshore reefs extend down almost 15 feet into the river bottom. The large boulders seen on the surface weigh as much as 4,000 pounds. They are resting on two other layers; recycled slabs of cement on the very bottom and a middle layer of smaller boulders. All together, over 8,000 tons of rock, stone, cement and boulders were used to build these reefs.
These offshore reefs are a critical element to the overall naturalization of the St. Clair River shoreline. The reefs are there to serve two purposes: first, they help to knock down the incredibly strong wave energy caused by passing boats and if left unchecked those waves can create serious damage and erosion to the new shoreline. Secondly, they create new shallow water habitats between the reefs and the shoreline which is critical to the growth and development of small fish, reptiles and amphibians.
All around, you’ll find nothing but grassy prairie to the edge of the sky at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, north of Strong City. The preserve protects a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Of the 400,000 square miles of tallgrass prairie that once covered the North American continent, less than 4% remains, primarily in the Flint Hills. Since 2009, the preserve has been home to the growing Tallgrass Prairie bison herd.
The Nature Conservancy work toward preservation of the tallgrass prairie, while sharing the story of ranching legacy, American Indian history, and the diverse tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills of Kansas.
Here you will find nature everywhere, from little fawns to a myriad of bird varieties from the Kentucky Wabler to the Bald Eagle.
The beautiful view here is horizon to horizon.
Wilderness, The Gateway To The Soul: Spiritual Enlightenment Through Wilderness Paperback – July 15, 2018
by Scott Stillman (Author)
Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Manistee Township, Manistee County, Michigan……Orchard Beach State Park is a public recreation area covering 201 acres just north of the city Manistee which has a beach, campground and hiking trails. The park dates back to 1892 when it first opened and was developed by the Manistee, Filer City and Eastlake Railway Company. The site was purchased by the Manistee Board of Commerce after the company stopped trolley service to the park and then became part of the Michigan state park system in 1921. The Civilian Conservation Corps was active in the park during the 1930’s and Corps efforts included the construction of several limestone structures including a pump house, pavilion, line house and toilet. In 2009 the park was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places having been cited as “one of the most intact examples of a Michigan state park developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s under National Park Service guidelines. In 2019 it was reported that erosion caused by high water levels on Lake Michigan threatened the park’s historic pavilion with destruction. The pavilion stands only 50 feet from the edge of the bluff. High water had covered the sandy beach at the base of the bluff below the pavilion since 2017 and the stairway built to access the beach from the pavilion led straight into the high waters of Lake Michigan. As for activities and amenities the park offers swimming, fishing, three miles of hiking trails, picknicking facilities and a 166 site campground. (wiki)
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“In order to see birds, it is necessary to become park of the silence” – Robert Lund
A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago. A rewilding, brought about first through neglect and now through intentional human effort, is occurring on all over the world and certainly here in the Midwest. Over the years, I have discovered unique beauties on ambling adventures along the Wisconsin and Michigan Shoreline, and even in the heart the city…downtown Chicago.
The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late 18th century in the works of Gilbert White, Thomas Bewick, George Montagu and John Clare The study of birds and natural history in general became increasingly prevalent in Britain during the Victorian Era, often associated with collection, eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began in Britain.
BENEFITS OF BIRDING
- Bird watching develops patience. …
- Bird watching will get your children to go outside. …
- Bird watching allows for introspection and contemplation. …
- Bird watching can improve cardiovascular health. …
- Bird watching gives you an excuse to travel. …
- Bird watching builds a sense of community. …
- Bird watching quickens reflexes.
“I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes” – Charles Lindbergh
Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom and later Roger Tory Peterson. Bird Neighbors (1897) by Neltje Blanchan was an early birding book which sold over 250,000 copies. It was illustrated with color photographs of stuffed birds.
Here are some great resources if you like birding:
White Pines Forest State Park is an Illinois state park in Ogle County, Illinois, which is a 385 acre park that contains the southernmost remaining stand of native white pine trees in the state of Illinois designated an Illinois Nature preserve in 2001. The park contains two freshwater streams, dolomite rock formations and a variety of activities generally associated with Illinois state parks.
Among the park’s most distinctive and well known features are the vehicular river crossings. At three places, crossing Pine Creek, fords were constructed instead of bridges. The fords offer visitors a chance to actually drive through the creek, though high water frequently closes the crossings. Hikers are relegated to pedestrian bridges or stepping stones in the creek to cross the stream. Floods are frequent enough on Pine Creek, a large watershed to the north of the park, that there is an emergency exit from the campground. When high water closes the fords, the campground is cut off and the emergency exit is the only way out.
The banks of Pine Creek and Spring Creek are lined with large rock and cliff formations that provide habitat to plants ranging from large trees to moss to hanging vines. The forest undergrowth provides small mammal habitats and among the mammals that can be seen include red squirrels, raccoons, deer and chipmunks. The creeks are populated with smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish and , when they are stocked by the IDNR, rainbow trout.
The park is Illinois’ third oldest and has become one of the state’s most visited parks hosting over 350,000 visitors each year. During the warmer months picknicking, camping, lodging, hiking and fishing are available. The lodge and cabins are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
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