Solitude, Simplicity, and Situational Awareness

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” – Henry David Thoreau

Simplicity, solitude and slowness of motion, spiced with a healthy dose of situational awareness are the core ingredients of some of my very best and most rewarding winter adventures. Every now and then I hike with a group, but my strong preference in both faraway mountainous wilderness areas or within Oakland County is to hike alone in silent solitude, or with a companion that appreciates the simplicity of solo hiking as the automatic “reset” button we often need in a busy world of work and distractions.
Continue reading

Be Thankful for Our “Wilder Side” Lands

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland County has a diverse array of protected wildlands and hundreds of miles of trails, thanks first to the forces of nature, and then to the dedicated work of planners and civil engineers, and finally the support of trail advocates and the general public. And so today, on this Thanksgiving week, I’ll profile ten of my favorite wilder side sites for outdoor adventure and “nature embracing” in any season of the year, starting with Kensington Metropark.

Continue reading

A First Look at Holly Oaks ORV Park

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was tasked many years ago with developing an opportunity for off-road vehicle recreation in southeast Michigan, a venture that would also reduce illegal and dangerous riding on utility corridors and railway beds, as well as in parks and on private lands. Oakland County had depleted sand and gravel mines that were unlikely to ever be redeveloped for residential or commercial use because of noise from I-75 and challenging topography. It was a marriage that was meant to be and after years of labor pains, the result will soon emerge as Holly Oaks ORV Park, the first ORV Park in Oakland County.  It will be the second state park in Michigan to be jointly managed by the state and a county parks agency. Continue reading

The Great Skunk Cabbage Swamp

Just the very word swamp can conjure up images of danger lurking behind every tree, venomous snakes slithering over logs, gators hungry for human flesh, monstrously large spider webs slapping against faces and squadrons of blood-thirsty mosquitos almost making the air too thick to breathe. I prefer the words of Henry David Thoreau, “I enter the swamp as a sacred place.” Continue reading

Exploration of the Davisburg State Wildlife Area

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Situational Awareness. That is the one item you must have with you before setting foot in the Davisburg State Wildlife Area. Never heard of this beautiful wildland gem in Springfield Township? Most people have not. If you are looking for a place with a trail system, signage, established parking lots, creature comforts, and other hikers, this is not the place for you. Want to get lost? This might be the place. The landscape has diverse terrain with rolling hills, abundant wetlands, including murky soils that can just about suck boots off your feet, an icy cold stream, a wooded swamp, a hidden lake and excellent habitat for our federally protected swamp rattler, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. And don’t forget patches of poison sumac at a face-slapping height and skin-scratching thorns. Continue reading