What better way to spend a holiday than to go for a hike with your best pal? So, I bundled up the hound and we drove to nearby MacCready Reserve, a 408 acre parcel belonging to Michigan State University. There are six and a half miles of trails here, for walking, skiing, snowshoeing, and most importantly, dogs are welcome (on a leash, and please clean up after them).
This colorful boulder was at the edge of the parking area. Could it be an example of the state rock, known as Petoskey Stone?
We decided to do the Yellow Trail, 1.4 miles of moderate terrain. This is also called the Dynamic Forest Trail, although I'm not quite sure why.
It starts of quite level and moseys through some open woodland.
As we swung around a curve that ran near the road, we encountered our first hill. A series of gentle rolls took us up on a ridge.
I'm not sure what this plant is, but there was a fair bit of it along the trail. It has a hollow stem, and always forks into a perfect "Y" at the top.
The dried remains of its flowers (or fruits, which really are the same thing), intrigued me. I'll have to get out the field guides and see what I can find under winter vegetation.
A side trail led down a steep hill to a fen. This sign describes the fen ecosystems pretty well. While fens were few and far between in NY, and few people knew what you were talking about if you mentioned a fen, here they seem to be quite common.
And here it is, the fen:
There were lots of oaks. Apparently at one point in time, oak savannahs were common in southern Michigan. Today only a few remnants remain. I plan to visit them and do a bit of research into these nifty ecosystems.
Anyway, where there are oaks,
there are acorns, and where there are acorns,
there are deer. Deer are quite plentiful here. As in QUITE PLENTIFUL. I'd say we are practically over run with deer. And this little reserve certainly has its share, as evidenced by the numerous scrapes we passed today, where they were pawing up the snow and leaves in search of acorns, a winter staple for deer and turkeys alike.
I found this cute little nest just off the trail. Gnatcatcher? Time to break out the nest ID book, too.
Wouldn't this be lovely in a fog?
An hour and a half later Toby and I were headed back home. Passed this small herd of highland cattle along the way. They completely ignored us until someone started to bark (and it wasn't me).
And now we are home. I've refilled the birdfeeder, hung the Christmas suet, watched a neighborhood cat skulk around the house, and it is time to tackle the Room o' Boxes. There are items I need to find and I have a whole day (well, half a day now) to sort through them. Hopefully I'll succeed and not have to sort again tomorrow.