We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

Sunday, September 3, 2017

South Dakota's Badlands

The Badlands heating up

The thermometer hit 96 degrees our first day in the Badlands. We were able to get out and see some of the sights before it heated up too much but decided to get up and on the trail by 7 am the next morning. It was good to have the hiking boots back on.
  As we were heading out for our peaceful early morning hike, we came up on this big horn sheep. We gave him plenty of room. He didn't seem bothered by us as he dozed in the sunshine.
The air was nice and cool with a breeze in the morning.
Erosion began in the Badlands about 500,000 years ago when the Cheyenne River captured streams and rivers flowing from the Black Hills into the Badlands region causing erosion to start. Modern rivers cut down through the rock layers, carving fantastic shapes into what had once been a flat floodplain. The Badlands erode at the rapid rate of about one inch per year and will erode completely away in another 500,000 years, giving them a life span of just one million years. Not a long period of time from a geologic perspective.

This guy was still hanging around once we returned from our hike. We also saw small deer and prong horn antelope. Fortunately, no rattlesnakes.

The sea that covered this area drained away with the uplift of the Black Hills and Rocky Mountains, exposing the black ocean mud to air. Upper layers were weathered into a yellow soil, called Yellow Mounds. The mounds are an example of a fossil soil, or paleosol. Each of the colors and layers represent an era thousands of years in the making.

We ran across a huge herd of bighorn as we were leaving the park in the morning but were too far away for a good picture. There were plenty near the road and sometimes blocking our path.

This must be the way to the Notch.
After wandering through a canyon, this trail climbs a log ladder and follows a ledge to "the Notch" for a view of the White River Valley. We watched for drop-offs. Not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights. It could be treacherous during or after heavy rains.
Climbing down turned out to be a little more difficult. The top stairs were quite steep and long steps for short legs. As I was climbing down backwards and my knees bending up to my chest the lower I got, Mike told me to turn around and try going forward. It had leveled out enough that I just walked instead of practically bear crawling backwards.

 OK we will keep to the right since it looks like a person could easily slide on the gravel.

We tied several trails together and made a nice day of hiking. One trail had molds of  the fossils that had been found in the area and the history.  Alligator fossils indicate that a lush, subtropical forest covered the land. Most fossils found in this formation are from early mammals like the three-toed horse and the large titanothere. You can google that one if you are curious.
 We managed to pick up a few geocaches in the town just outside the park after our hike in the small town of Interior . They must be hardy people that live in Interior with hot summers and tough winters.

For eleven thousand years, American Indians have used this area for their hunting grounds. Archaeological records indicate that these people camped in secluded valleys where fresh water and game were available year round. Eroding out of the stream banks today are the rocks and charcoal of their campfires, as well as the arrowheads and tools they used to butcher bison, rabbits, and other game. From the top of the Badlands Wall, they could scan the area for enemies and wandering herds.
Toward the end of the 19th century as homesteaders to claim moved into South Dakota to claim their 160 acre homesteads. The U.S. government stripped American Indians of much of their territory and forced them to live on reservations.
We had driven by this area in the past when the temps were well over 105 degrees. This time, we were glad that we took the time to stop and visit the area and learn a little more.
The skies have been smoky due to the fires in Montana but makes a nice sunset as we head to the Black Hills.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

North Lower Michigan

 That's what I call bike riding!

Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes have been on our radar for quite sometime. We had to go west. So we headed to North Lower Michigan's little finger for some bike riding and relaxing.
The Leelanau Peninsula is dotted with small communities surrounded by farms, vineyards and orchards making it a perfect place for stargazing and considered one of the state's dark sky areas. We haven't been fortunate to see the milky way due to the clouds but they do keep us cool while out and about.

After catching up on our sleep, we pulled out the road bikes and map to plan out our routes for the ten days we were here and got the rubber on the road.

The rails to trails paved path from Sutton Bay to Traverse city between lakes was a great 30 mile ride. I have found riding flat or rolling hills sometimes painful on the butt. this ride did not disappoint, delightful with a touch of discomfort. Actualy, it hurt.
The fish tacos were just right.

Our ride from Glen Arbor to Sleeping Bear Dunes along Glen Lake on the road was so pleasant returning on the Heritage Trail. 

One of the museums in the Dunes.

It took a while to climb in the sand with a few calf cramps.

This part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is very steep. People were crawling back up on their hands and knees. 


 Northern Michigan's commercial fishing heritage remains alive today in Leland's Fishtown. We walked along the docks, amongst the weathered fishing shanties, smokehouses, racks of drying fishing nets, and fish tugs on the Leland River, and we could imagine what it would have been like in the early 1900s to live and work in this small fishing village, nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan. Fishtown still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan. Many of the shanties now house gift and clothing boutiques, art galleries and specialty food shops.

 We took a ride around North Lake Leenanau stopping in Fishtown in Leland which was a favorite of ours. The ferry to the Manitou Islands leaves from these docks daily at 9:30 and returns at 5:30. 

While living in Colorado Springs, we often enjoyed riding with the Colorado Springs Cycle Club on their Saturday morning  Latte Rides. This stop at the end of our ride made us think about those rides and our friends. We think they would have enjoyed this ride on  a perfect day around the lake.

Since our bike rides often end with a stop for "coffee", we often meet interesting people. There is something about being on a bike that makes people stop and talk. While stopped in Lake Leelanau at the end of one of our rides, we met a young lady that was touring along Lake Michigan on her mountain bike. She was riding 30 miles a day for 10 days and enjoying the lovely sunshine and blue water.
After our  Sutton Bay ride, we met a man that is spending the summer sailing the lakes in and around Michigan's lakes. He  had walked from the marina for coffee and a treat before heading over to the grocery store. He had stories to tell.


The Traverse Lighthouse that over looks Lake Michigan is said to be haunted by Captain Nelson.  Danish ship captain Peter Nelson, was the lighthouse keeper at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse from October 12, 1874 to July 11, 1890. He died two years later.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum accepts applications for volunteer lighthouse keepers for the season, April through December. You’ll work hard during the day greeting visitors, spouting historical information and helping with maintenance of the buildings and grounds, but, hey, it can’t be as grueling as the work of the 1880’s keepers, who spent their days
filling lights with sperm oil, trimming wicks, polishing lenses. You can watch panoramic sunsets in the lighthouse tower at day’s end, and tuck up in your own bed in the northern apartment of the lighthouse. Volunteer keepers live at the light for one or two weeks.

 Along the country roads were self serve stands selling produce, pastries and jams along with anything else they want to sell. On our return ride from the lighthouse, we stopped for some great peaches and a piece of apple pie.

We did get a hike in to do some geocaching but the mosquitoes were insane in places. That just made us keep moving while we did the loop. We did find the caches and stopped at the overlook to enjoy the view.
This strange looking creature had just come out of his cocoon while we watched.
This part of our Michigan trip was better than we could have hoped. Riding our bikes to visit the small towns along the country roads with temps in the low 70s and very little rain was a perfect way to enjoy our summer or at least a small part of it.