Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First "flowering" wildflower of 2012!

February 27 2012 This post is going to be out of sequence but it was a special day!  Let's at least go through the day in order.

We went south to Laketown Township Beach Park, this is about half way between Holland and Saugatuck, Michigan.  We were going to check out Halfway Creek (at least that is the name in given in the Michigan County Atlas by David M. Brown) which is about a quarter mile south of the park along the beach.

     Stairs at Laketown Twp Beach Park
Lake Michigan

 Halfway Creek meets Lake Michigan
            Halfway Creek
There were no rocks, well OK, we found three rocks, that's it.  The creek was cool and we crossed it easily, having our boots on and timing the waves.  There are houses here.  The wind was blowing.  There was quite a roar from Lake Michigan.

           Stairs at Laketown Twp. Beach Park

It was early when we got back to the car, we decided to go to Allegan Forest, a favorite place of ours.  First we wandered over to 133rd Ave. went under the train bridge, looking for very early signs of wildflowers, maybe Marsh Marigold.  Not much here, some green coming up.

    133rd Ave in Allegan County

On we go, and this is the best part.  We went to Happy Boots corner!  Marie stayed in the car to snack.  I jumped out with my camera, grinning ear to ear.  This place is just wet woods with a ditch along the road, so what's the big deal.  Well, the big deal is the Eastern Skunk Cabbage were up and I think I can say they were blooming.

Ok so you can barely see inside, not the best shot but this is when I looked up and saw a Michigan State Police car pulled up next to Marie's car.  OH OH!  She told him I was looking for wildflowers, I'm glad she didn't tell him this was Happy Boots corner or I might not be here to tell this tale.  Ha ha.
                 Not yet flowering
              Maybe flowering

                 Yeah just a little bit flowering?
             Something is growing here at Happy Boots Corner.
    New growth, this will be a wildflower soon.
    Back road in Allegan County. 
We checked on the dried stalks of the American Columbo in the Allegan Forest.  We followed 58th Street north, through the tunnel

and on up into the city of Holland, stopping by at Herrick District Library. 

That was our day, out of chronological sequence but fun all the same.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wau-ke-na William Erby Smith Preserve

2012 02 06  A Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserve, Wau-ke-na William Erby Smith Preserve is where we landed. 

We took exit 34 from U.S. 196/ U.S. 31, drove south on Lakeshore Drive past Pier Cove Park, continued south past West Side Park, finally turning west on 121st Avenue.  There is a Ganges Township road end access point here to Lake Michigan.  Plummerville Creek is on the south side of this road.

     121st Avenue Road end
  Plummerville Creek- private land

 I have mentioned before the book, "Michigan's West Coast  Explore the Shore Guide" by Brian Hutchins, it has directions to many "out of the way" road ends that are legal to access.

We have been here before, we didn't get out of the car.  Along this 121st Avenue is a small sign, "State Wildlife Sanctuary" what's that about?

On down the road we went, crossing over Plummerville Creek, then past the Plummerville cemetery, over one more road and we have arrived at Wau-ke-na, north.
We parked in a grassy lot at 9:33am, it was cloudy, gray, and 34 degrees.  This was a day the forecasters kept saying sunny, blue sky - it is almost better when they say gray sky and clouds because they seem to get it wrong more than right.

Anyway off we go on a new adventure.  We had some maps that we got online, some help to know what was here and where we could go.  A grassy two-track was leading us off around big fir trees and through fields.
                 Map, North tract Wau-ke-na
   We also saw signs with the name this way.
                 Rules to follow,  please

Soon we reached the bluff above Lake Michigan, there was a bench and a stiff wind. 

 Bench on the bluff
Looking south over the bluff we could see water flowing across the beach.  That's where we want to go!  But how, we couldn't go down the bluff.

We went south, following the trails - we came to a cut in the bluff so down we go, and there was another sign for Wau-ke-na. The water flowing across the beach seemed to just appear out of nowhere and there were rocks, lots of rocks.

    Creek Ahead

    Maybe not a creek but a seep?

After checking out the rocks we turned south and walked on the beach until we came to another creek!  It was cold and windy, but not unbearable, and definitely better than 90 degrees.
 Second creek on the beach

One of us was looking for certain kinds of rocks, I don't want to give away all our secrets, well we may have found a "Lightning Stone".  Or maybe we didn't.
                             Lightning Stone?
Another book "My Michigan Rocks and Minerals", says these Lightning Stones are brownish-red stones with lightning bolt patterns, it also says they are Septarian Geodes but they are not geodes at all, so a better name is Septarian Nodules.  This is too deep for me, I just thought they looked cool.

We enjoyed the creek immensely.  We found many neat rocks.

Feathered Rock? Nope just a feather

    Got Rocks?

Finally we turned north, headed back up the beach, past by where we had come down to the beach from Wau-ke-na, walked all the way to Plummerville Creek.  Remember this is where the access point is from 121st Avenue. 

   Plummerville Creek

Plummerville Creek was much larger than the other creeks we had seen today.  We weren't sure we could cross it, but just as the water reached the big lake there was a place to cross if we timed it right with the waves.  The current was strong and the sand sometimes collapsed under our boots, yikes!  We made it.

Huge sandstone cliffs!  Oh what's that?  You can see the house on the right of the picture. 

We found some rocks here, and lots of houses.  We walked back to Wau-ke-na.  Up the wide cut and off into the woods we go. 

                 Liverwort?  Lichen?  I'm still figuring these out.

Great walking here, mostly a forest of firs.  At the car it was 12:40 and still 34 degrees.  So about 3 hours of fun so far.

We drove ~two miles south to Wau-ke-na south tract, wow this is a wordy post, blah blah, anyway... 
Map Wau-ke-na South Tract

There is preserve property on both sides of the road, to the east we didn't go, there is tall planted grass, solid grass. 

          East section of Wau-ke-na South Tract

We walked on west, here there were signs of restoration everywhere, not pretty, but the SWMLC has big plans for the land. 

I'd say there are more ponds and swamps on this tract than the north tract.  We followed along a trail which was mostly flooded, this was in the woods. 

Swamp at Wau-ke-na South Tract

Then came a huge open field on the southern half of the preserve, we went all the way around this field enjoying our day. 

We wandered around some odd ponds, maybe I was getting tired but I was ready to sit down.  I think I liked the north tract more.  We walked for about an hour, got to the car, and found the temp had dropped two degrees, and still no sun.

We left Wau-ke-na behind and drove around the area a bit then went north through the town of Ganges.  Then home.  We walked over 5 miles today.  No sun but lots of fun!