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?”
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
WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
150 Tennis Balls, 91-Acres of Water, 18 Volunteers, and the Ghost of Mastodons: An Early Morning Lake Sixteen Environmental Adventure
Oakland County would be a lesser place if it was not for our beautiful lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams. With those thoughts in mind, I loaded my kayak onto the roof of my jeep on the last Wednesday of August for a bit of participatory, investigative reporting on Lake Sixteen.
The early morning fog lifted just as I pulled into the small parking area near a fishing pier and a non-motorized boat launch site on Lake Sixteen, a 91-acre lake on the east side of Orion Oaks County Park. Lake Sixteen is one of the hundreds, or some say more than a thousand local lakes that sparkle in the early morning light of fading summer. Here’s what Oakland County’s Prosper Magazine wrote last October about the numerous lakes that enrich our lives, and provide diverse habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife and great outdoor recreation for residents of our county.
THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
Massasauga rattler sunning on the Indian Springs Metropark hike-bike trail.
The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a true pit-viper; the only venomous snake found in Oakland County. They are well camouflaged, docile and secretive and would rather escape than strike when threatened and that may explain a fact noted by emergency medical professionals: on the rare occasion when a rattlesnake strikes it almost always occurs on the dominated hand of an intoxicated male. “Hey Joe, Watch at this!” may just summarize the foolish bravado behavior that precedes most encounters between two species, homo sapiens and Sistrurus catenatus catenatus. Humans are not on the menu, but these highly skilled ambush hunters use their heat -seeking pits to target small rodents and frogs.