Green Aurora Borealis on St. Patrick’s Day

The luck of the Irish must have been with me. I finally got to see and photograph the Northern Lights last night.

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I’m so grateful for this as I’ve been aching to see it. It’s far brighter in a photo where the shutter was open for 60 seconds than it was in real life. Most of the time it just looked like a hazy cloud on the horizon with a few brief little curtains. I wish I’d figured out the right settings on the camera sooner and caught those, but I am happy with what I have at the moment. There will be more opportunities later in life to catch more.

Spring Thaw

cardinal05I feel as though I’ve broken with tradition by not posting about the first day of March on the first day of March, which always feels like such a momentous achievement (getting to March, not posting about it). But this year February seemed to go by so quickly and March began with days just as cold as February and I was in no mood to post.

Now, finally, we are experiencing temps above freezing and hearing the meltwater in the gutters and spattering on sidewalks. It’s been sunny and lovely and dry sidewalk has been reported. My bird feeders are full and every day we hear the wooing melodies of songbirds. Male cardinals are chasing each other off. We anticipate the return of the robins soon — and, with somewhat less enthusiasm, the emergence of the dog poop.

It’s been in the 40s the past few days and it should be in the FIFTIES (I can hardly believe I’m writing that) the rest of the week starting tomorrow. Phenomenal.

“In the solitary forest, by the rushing Taquamenaw…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second day of our hike, Alison and I ran across a number of areas with young maples sprinkled between the pines and firs and showing off their fall colors.

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The ferns in the open areas were browning and made an interesting color combination with large patches of fuzzy seafoam green lichens.

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The woods through which the second half of the Wilderness Loop winds are alternately close and open. The open areas would be hot in sunny weather, but we had clouds and some breeze the whole way.

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Here Alison takes a moment to enjoy the color in a rare ray of sunshine. I believe she is preparing mentally for the many more soggy spots we will encounter as we race the thunder on the way to Clark Lake campsite. (Little does she know at this point that her right foot is soon to be ankle-deep in cold, black swamp water.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is one of the very best “bridges” Tahquamenon has to offer in the backcountry.

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Seriously, this was one of the most sound structures on the trail, and it looked like it had been decomposing for nigh on a decade. There was one real bridge. As we passed over it we realized we were also passing yet another beaver dam, this one far taller than the last.

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So, campers, what have we learned from the above diagram? That’s right! The Department of Natural Resources can build a bridge…when it so chooses.

We passed by the wetland created by this second industrious beaver…

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…and soon arrived at the Clark Lake campsite where we were again the only people. We took a two-hour nap that afternoon as rain pounded down on the tent. It was glorious.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And we happily made use of this very handmade bench.

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We filtered water from Clark Lake. It’s always a little unnerving to drink brown water, even if you know the microbes and nasty little beasties have been filtered from it. Here’s some of the leftover water in a clear glass at home so you can see the tannins leeched from the cedars, which gives the falls their distinctive color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe week after this hiking trip, my mother came to watch the boy while Zach and I traveled to St. Louis for ACFW. She was nice enough to wash all of my clothes–not just the really nasty ones from the hike, but from all of the hampers and baskets and dividers in the house.

The packs are still in my sunroom, waiting to be returned to storage, where they will wait patiently…for next year.

 

Photos of What I Wish the First Day of Spring Looked Like

Not that it looks like this outside right now, but who can resist imagining what spring will look like when it really gets here in mid- to late-April?

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A girl can be delusional, right?