Adventuring Up North at Stony Creek!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A dusting of Halloween night snow whitened the hills of northern Oakland County, confirming the duel between autumn and winter has accelerated. In anticipation of that forecasted seasonal change, I accepted the invitation of two outdoor adventuring ICU nurses that are avid hikers to join them for an “up north feeling” trek at Stony Creek Metropark, one of 13 parks in Southeast Michigan managed by Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Our destination for the last hike of October was the southwest corner of Stony Creek, the section that is located entirely within Oakland County and has thirteen miles of hilly trails dedicated to mountain bikers, hikers, and perhaps in a few more weeks, if Mother Nature is willing, and it looks that way, cross-country skiers. Continue reading

A Riverside Nature Ramble in Rochester Hills

A river cuts through the land. One side is grassy and tall trees run along the far side. The sky is blue with white puffy clouds.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Ice Age was coming to an end. Shuffling its 8-ton frame, a shaggy mastodon crossed a steep moraine and lumbered down to the edge of a bend in the icy rock-strewn river. That mighty herbivore, soon to be extinct, browsed on perhaps forty or fifty pounds of riverside shrubs and then wandered into the darkness of a changing world, along what is now the Riverside Trail.

A grassy area with tall trees on an autumn day. The foliage is changing from green to yellow, orange, and red. A bit of light blue sky and white clouds shows through the trees.

Fast forward to the last week of October 2018. Autumn in Oakland County had reached its full glory, and I was setting out on the Riverside Trail that’s part of the Avon Nature Study Area in the City of Rochester Hills. Within minutes of my arrival, I noted fresh raccoon tracks in mud, a flash of silvery movement in a bend of the Clinton River and evidence of beaver activity. The river sparkled under a clear blue sky. It was a great day. Perhaps consider replicating my journey for a quick immersion into nature’s way before the snows and strong winds of November arrive. Continue reading

Orion Oaks: An Easy Autumn Meander

Fallen leaves cover a dirt path leading through trees. The rising sun can be seen through the trees where the end of the path opens up to a meadow.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Hiking can be daunting for those that never wandered off pavement or experienced any trail adventures; and at times it can be discouraging for those that have. Weather conditions change. Darkness comes early. Trails can be narrow and slippery. The visuals, perhaps comforting cues of sidewalks, buildings, road signs and urban activity are also absent. And then there is the matter of time. “My life is so busy, I only have an hour to hike and I don’t know where or how to start?”

Start now.

I’m not talking about planning an all day hike, nor suggesting a hike that takes significant planning. And I’m certainly not suggesting you do what I did a few weeks ago and set off on a 40 mile trek on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A trek that included total elevation changes of 8,650 feet over steep rocky terrain while keeping an eye out for sunning Timber Rattlesnakes, and then before darkness fell, hanging food bags high enough between trees to make things tough for hiker-savvy black bears. “Why am I doing this?” I experienced that feeling momentarily on day two, but I trekked on, for I am hopelessly addicted to outdoor adventure. Continue reading