Lakeville Swamp Sanctuary: A Sacred Place of Cedars

Wilder Side of Oakland County 

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“I enter the swamp as a sacred place”— Henry David Thoreau.

Cedar swamp habitat takes on a special beauty that is mysterious, captivating and full of wonder in winter. It’s also a vital place of survival for rare species of flora and fauna, functions as a water storage location, and often as an aquifer recharging site. The Lakeville Swamp Sanctuary, managed by the Michigan Nature Association, is one the highest quality wetland complexes found on the Wilder Side of Oakland County. One week has passed since I trekked into that swamp under a light drizzle laced with wet snow flakes. I emerged with mud caking my boots, ankles, knees and backside. I was a bit bruised and slightly scratched, rather wet and tired, yet exceedingly happy and eager to return on a day when the sun shines. Continue reading

When the Moon Shadows Dance

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Night hiking is always an adventure, but it becomes a five-star adventure on a winter’s night. Hiking with a good friend, a group of friends, or like-minded adventurers adds to the pleasure, but even solo night trekkers are never really alone. Unseen creatures rustle through brush, or crunch through crusty snow stirring our senses into hyperactivity. The hooting of owls is a thrilling and comforting sound that brings smiles for those in the know. Yet sometimes, the whinnies of Screech Owls, deep melodious hoots of Great Horned Owls and the caterwauling conversations of the swampland-loving Barred Owls send shivers down the backs of folks who never tread trails after the sun sets. Continue reading

Northern Border: A Year’s End Salute to Hiking

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Sixty-five! That’s how many times I set out on a trail within the boundaries of Oakland County this year. Most were short meanders of three or four miles that followed designated trails in our Oakland County Parks, the Huron Clinton Metroparks or wildlands managed by local units of government. Some hikes were adventuresome treks of ten or more miles in our State Recreation Areas and State Parks managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. All were pleasurable, even when mosquitos swarmed, thunder rumbled, the mercury plunged, or humidity glued my shirt to my chest. Song birds sang, snakes slithered, owls hooted, turkeys trotted, Sandhill cranes trumpeted, turtles sun bathed, and once at dusk a coyote yipped. On a snowy day, both a cardinal and a deer froze for photos as I meandered close by both of them. It was a good year and I met people who shared the passion of the wilder side of nature’s way. Continue reading

Trail Safety On The Dawn Of Winter

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the Wilder Side of Oakland County might best be described with just two words: Pure Pleasure. Tracks in fresh snow present an enticing storybook of wildlife activity. Cooper’s Hawks zip through woodlands. Turkeys share trails we trek, and the musical whispers of winter are enlivened by Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. A fleeting view of a mink by a frozen marsh, an eastern coyote or red fox slipping silently through the woodlands falls into the realm of possibility for those that walk slowly, stop often, lean motionlessly against a tree and then just look and listen. Continue reading

Urban Gold: The Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The City of Southfield website describes the city as “the premier business address in Michigan.” With 27 million square feet of office space, over seven million square feet of retail and industrial space, and the city being home to over 10,000 businesses, including more than 100 “Fortune 500” companies, perhaps they are. However, there’s another fine attraction that adds value to the City of Southfield: the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve. It’s a pot of urban gold for those with a love of nature.

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