Thursday, November 15, 2012

Should we hunt wolves in Michigan?

Should people be able to hunt these creatures? Some Michigan lawmakers
are looking at that possibility.
(Flickr photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region)

Have you ever seen a wolf?

I haven't, but I've heard their howls while up north on Isle Royale. They recently came off the endangered species list here in Michigan, and now some lawmakers are toying with the idea of opening a wolf hunting season.

With rifle season beginning today, most hunters are in their blinds this morning, waiting for 8-point bucks to come out. But soon, they could be looking for the elusive wolf, and I'm curious to see where most people stand on it.

Wolves in Michigan came off the endangered in January, allowing for more flexibility when dealing with wolves that threaten a human or livestock. While still listed as "protected," more wolves are beginning to flock and breed in the Upper Peninsula. Estimates place this number near 700 wolves.

With their recent removal and growth, a senator from Escanaba, Republican Tom Casperson, recently introduced legislation that would allow for some hunters to kill the wild dogs. The bills has cleared a Senate committee and currently faces the full Senate. State Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, introduced similar legislation in the state House.

If approved, the bill calls for resident licenses to hunt wolves to cost $100, and would place restrictions on how many wolves could be harvested.

But some folks aren't pleased with the move, notably several Native American tribes. From Michigan Radio:
Many of the Indian tribes in Michigan are opposed to this legislation right now, and that's primarily because they feel the wolf has a special status for them. It figures importantly in many of their creation stories. They consider the wolf to be a brother or part of their kin.
Wolf hunts have officially started for the first time in Minnesota earlier this month, and hunters have almost filled the state's designated quota. Almost 200 wolves have been harvested in Minnesota since it started Nov. 3, the quota for the first half of the season.

I am no hunter or a farmer, so I have little to offer in experience. Wolves don't seem to be the type of creatures I would hunt, most notably because they aren't something I (or several other people) would eat; the hunt is primarily for the sport and the fur.

Should this be something that gets looked at closer? And should we allow for wolf hunting in our state? 

UPDATE: The Michigan Senate approved the legislation allowing for gray wolves to be hunted today, Nov. 29, by a vote of 23-15.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Canoeing the south branch of the Au Sable River

Beautiful, isn't it? This was the typical scene down the south branch of the Au Sable last weekend. 
It's been nearly 10 months since I got my boots on and camped. With changing jobs midway through the year, planning a wedding and other hectic life items, I haven't had the chance to get out like I'm accustomed to doing.

I broke that streak this past weekend when I traveled north to canoe the south branch of the Au Sable River. We canoed down the river near the peak of the fall colors this past weekend, doing more than 10 miles down the stretch near Roscommon.

The thing that struck me the most was the fall color along the river. It was one of the reasons I was excited to go on this trip; I knew the Au Sable was surrounded by tall, beautiful trees, and I knew the colors of fall would be exquisite.

Stopping by the Chase Bridge.
We arrived at the canoe livery in the morning, where we shoved off into the water. The river felt like it was around 55 degrees or so, enough to be cold but not enough to do significant damage if we were exposed to it for too long. That typically wouldn't be a problem, since most of the river was only a few feet deep at most places.

Our canoeing took us along the Mason Tract Pathway near Roscommon. We started down the river near the Chase Bridge, and after a mishap where one canoe flipped while trying to maneuver a fallen log, we stopped for lunch at Durant's Castle, the site where former auto millionaire William C. Durant had built a lavish home in the early 1900s.

Continuing down the river, we saw many ducks which seemingly followed us as we floated down. Many cottages lined the banks: some had people there for the weekend, others had "For Sale" signs in the backyard.
The mix of colors with the green made the trip
a wonderful adventure.
The randomness of where the color would appear was half the appeal
of the fall canoe trip.
We followed the river to the Smith Bridge, where we were met by a driver from the livery we rented the boats from. We returned to the Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground, and enjoyed dinner before falling asleep after a long day of paddling.

It's a great time to go up north for a trip like this: the crowds are gone, the campground is empty and the livery employees are more than happy to work with you. They stay open year-round, meaning you could canoe in January if you wanted to. There, you might see the snow on the trees, but I'll contend it does not rival the autumn colors mid-Michigan could offer the last weekend of September.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flashback Friday: Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the fall

The light filtering of taking this picture of a picture using my phone adds a bit of a rustic feel to the photo. I like it.

Keeping with my theme I started a few weeks ago, I've decided to add yet another flashback post of a former trip. This time, it's beautiful Tahquamenon Falls near Newberry.

The falls are beautiful at all times
of the year, especially autumn.
I've been to the falls twice in my life, once in the late '90s with my family and again in Oct. 2004 with the CSB. I haven't been back since, something perhaps I'll convince my future wife to do after we're married next year.

There are two sets of falls at Taquamenon: the upper and the lower. If I remember correctly, we visited both on a hike that fall Saturday. The trip was a weekend one, although it started slightly later for me; a football game that Friday night delayed my travels with the group, and I ended up leaving near 10:30 p.m. that night. We arrived in the morning when everyone was waking up after we took a power nap ourselves, my leader and I.

The falls themselves are a spectacular view, especially for having so few in Michigan and only one in the Lower Peninsula. Brown in color, the colors of fall added to their beauty as they flowed down the Taquamenon River.

Not many can visit the falls without an accompanying trip to Whitefish Point, home of the Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

The lighthouse, one of the more iconic along the Great Lakes, has metal supports running up the tower. It's the oldest active light on Lake Superior, the greatest Great Lake of them all.
If you thought Lake Superior was cold during the summer, dip your toes in during October. Brrr.
And the shipwreck museum is worth the visit if there. With the Great Lakes being a hotspot for shipwrecks throughout the times white people have traveled the lakes, there are artifacts from several wrecks, the prize being the bell recovered from the bridge of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The ship, which sank in 1975, was one of the largest at the time to sail the Great Lakes. It sank during a storm on Nov. 10, 1975, and has become folklore and a national curiosity ever since.

It's been too long since making the trip up to Newberry to view these great falls. Things have changed since the Duck Lake fire took place earlier this summer when the blaze forced the park to close. It seems the area is slowly recovering, based on reports I've read earlier this summer.

I'm looking forward to returning to the falls. Anything special I need to take note of if/when going a younger me wouldn't have appreciated?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My top five outdoors destinations in Michigan

I saw a post on the Pure Michigan blog earlier this week that got me thinking: it asked readers for the top five cities to visit in Michigan for a native New Yorker now living in Ann Arbor. Naturally, cities such as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Frankenmuth, etc., popped up, and I threw in my two cents as well.

But what about the top five outdoors spots in Michigan?

The following list is the one I came up with:

5. Island Lake State Recreation Area/Kensington Metropark

Sorry I brought up snow, I'll tell it to go away now.
This is a surprise on the list, but it's not for its summer activities. Island Lake and Kensington are great for the winter, complete with trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, you name it. Island Lake is practically empty during this time, and the two rustic cabins in the park make for a great weekend, something I've done for years.

The sledding and tobogganing hills in Kensington are tall and steep, and make for a great afternoon of fun in the snow.

Now, let's stop talking about winter, and move on to the warmer spots, such as...

4. South Manitou Island

I've been fortunate enough to travel here three times, and have spent two nights sleeping at Weather Station campground. The island, park of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, takes about 90 minutes to get to, but is full of sights to keep you busy.

This photo doesn't begin to capture how big these dunes
really are off the island's coast.
The lighthouse is stunning, especially if you're able to climb up the tower and look out onto Lake Michigan. The sand dunes on the opposite side of the island are majestic, and stretch high above the lakeshore. They're so tall, you can roll a rock down them and it becomes a game.

The shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan, along with the grove of giant cedars makes this island worth the boat ride.

Speaking of boat rides...

3. Round Island
(Flickr photo by hatchski)
Not your typical destination point. The island, which lies in the Straits of Mackinac, can only be reached through a charter boat; no docks exist, so you have to climb into the water of the straits to reach land.

But once you make it, it doesn't get more rustic than that. When I went in 2003, we were the only ones on the island. No designated campsites, just wherever you could find a place to pitch camp. We (of course) chose the beach, facing Mackinac Island. I still remember sitting at the campfire at dusk, watching the fog and freighters roll in. One of the most vivid memories I have is seeing the row of lights from atop the Grand Hotel as the night got darker. Truly a beautiful sight.

Other places have unique views as well, including...

2. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The dunes, they speak
for themselves.
This is a given, especially if you've hiked the entire Lakeshore Trail like I did with my old Scout troop in 2006. The entire 50 miles is lined with breathtaking views, from the rock sculptures near Munising to  the sand dunes closer to Grand Marais.

The dunes especially have captured my imagination since I left. The view topped that of Sleeping Bear, which I didn't think possible. Loggers used to use the dunes to slide logs down them to Lake Superior, and it's clear why.

The trail, part of the North Country Trail, is windy, and includes beaches. It's a sight to see.

You get a great mix with Pictured Rocks, and you can choose how intense you want to be. You can hike the whole thing with a pack on your back, or you can camp in your RV and walk to the beach every day.

My No. 1 place, however, you can't do that so easily...

1. Isle Royale National Park
It doesn't get any better than this.
This island is the goal of many outdoorsmen here in Michigan. This is the gem of Michigan, which we all can thank Ben Franklin for.

It lies 54 miles off the coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and takes more than 3 hours to get to. But the trip is unforgettable, which is why I featured recently in a Flashback Friday post in July.

It's what natural life is all about. Pump all your own water, carry all of your food, swim in the coldest lake I've ever been in. It's all about survival, and seeing an ecosystem recovering from copper mining.

Old mine shafts still dot the island, and one wrong step and you'll fall. Landmarks such as Daisy Farm, Chickenbone Lake and Moskey Basin make up the isle with the backbone of the Greenstone Ridge.

Wildlife is beautiful and unique. From loons to moose to wolves, you'll see animals you won't see on Michigan's mainland.

It truly is tops when it comes to the outdoors. The people I've spoken to that are outdoorsmen crave the island, and have waited years to travel there. I was lucky enough to go when I was 17, and I've never regretted it.

What do you think of my list? What locations would you include?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flashback Friday: A look at my 2005 trip to Isle Royale

Looking out toward Canada on Isle Royale in July 2005.
I'm launching a new segment on this blog, since I'm guessing I won't be doing much traveling the rest of the year (starting a new job and planning a wedding can do that). I'll be unique in calling it "Flashback Friday," a name no one (yep, no one) uses. It'll be a highlight of a trip I've taken in the past, and I took some crazy trips around Michigan when I was younger.

My dad and I on the Minong Ridge.
I love this photo, it hangs in my
bedroom framed.
I think I'd start with a bang, and share some images from Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior and the only national Park in the United States that completely shuts down in the winter.

I ventured to Isle Royale in July 2005 with the St. David's Christian Service Brigade. My father, who hiked the island in the 1980s by himself, also came to come back and "finish the job" he left. He hiked off the island last time after falling and breaking his arm; he now cannot extend his arm completely because of the accident.

The trip was one of the greatest I had ever taken; it was a weeklong excursion, which started at Moskey Basin, the only location I've ever swam in Lake Superior where it's warm. Taking a charter boat across the island, we drove by the old lighthouse on the south side of the island. We moved from Moskey Basin to Lake Richie, where we camped for several days to use up some of our food and get acclimated.

We started at places such as McCargoe Cove, Chicken Bone lake and Daisy Farm. Some were better than others; typically, the inland campsites were less shaded and less comfortable then those on the lakeshore.

The wildlife was spectacular as well. In addition to your typical chipmunks and squirrels, Isle Royale is special in terms of its ecosystem. It has wild packs of wolves, as well as moose. It's ecosystem is so special, it's featured in the New York Times, as well as Michigan Radio, which recently did a big series on the island and its fragile ecosystem (it also was the inspiration for a biology paper I wrote in college, although I only got a C+ in the course. Carry on). We never saw any wolves, although we could hear some howling one night while we got ready for bed.

Moose, on the other hand, were plentiful. We saw a handful of moose, starting with one taking a bath in Lake Richie early on the trip. We saw a cow and her calf near Rock Harbor, although we stayed away from her. The gem was a pair of bull moose that came running out in front of us while we hiked along the Greenstone Ridge. Two full-racked moose came strolling from the brush, no more than 20 feet from us before they headed down the trail.

It's a trip every major outdoor enthusiast should take. It has everything: wilderness, quiet and challenge. The island is only accessible by boat or seaplane, and is the ultimate trip for many of us outdoorsmen downstate.

Hiking along the Greenstone Ridge trail, the main system across the island.
The view of Lake Superior. 
Have you been the island since 2005? I'd love to know if anything's changed from what I remember last.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dow Gardens in Midland provides for a quiet place for a day walk

A bridge across a stream in Dow Gardens near the back of the park. 

With some spare time in between a wedding last weekend, my fiancé and I, along with her parents, wandered into Midland's Dow Gardens. The gardens, which house the home of Alden Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical, are a stunning visual during the summertime when the plants have bloomed.

One of several flowerbeds in Dow Gardens.
One of the many sculptures
in the gardens this summer.
The gardens are not what you'd expect with the name Dow, which is typically associated with chemicals manufacturing. The gardens sit on 110 acres on Midland's Eastman Avenue, the main road through town. It's not exactly camping, but its a great day walk through some of the scenery.

Areas such as the herb garden and the rose garden are stunning when in full bloom, which a myriad of colors. Other areas, such as the secret garden, which lay off the main trail, have a range of different ferns, shrubs and other wild plants.

Several sculptures from Michigan artists are scattered all over the garden, including several this summer featuring Great Lakes Bay Region artists.

For a day trip, it's a great one if you're looking for something different. The flowers, trees and vegetation are all labeled, so it is easy to determine the species of plant.

Several pieces of architecture also dot the park, including the bridge in the photo above. The Red Bridge allows for visitors to stroll across the streams and waterfalls constructed throughout.

Views like this are common walking through the park.
The paths were light with foot traffic the Saturday afternoon, which made it easy to navigate the area of the park we meandered through. My fiancé and I went to the gardens several years ago when were were students at Central Michigan University. Cost for students is $1, and general admission is $5, so the price is right to spend the afternoon if your looking to kill some time before a Great Lakes Loons game.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grand Haven: one of the most beautiful cities in Michigan

Looking toward the shore on the Grand Haven pier.
First and foremost, it appears I lied in my last post with the map of Michigan in it. I did get a chance to get away just days after publishing it when I said I wasn't going anywhere this summer. Oops.

In any case, my fiance and I traveled to Grand Rapids and Grand Haven this past weekend to have some photos taken for our wedding invitations. We have a friend who lives out there and thought it would be a great idea to have her take some shots for us in a town we enjoyed visiting when I lived in Grand Rapids for a short time in 2010.
It's a beautiful view down the pier. Too bad it was cloudy; the sunset over
Lake Michigan is stunning.

Going back to Grand Haven for the first time in two years really sparked something. I remembered how beautiful the lakeshore and pier was, and it really spoke to me. Between the sunset, the lakeshore, the pier and the lighthouses, I felt very at home and relaxes walking into Lake Michigan Saturday night.

The memorial to the USCGC Escanaba along the Grand River.
If you haven't gone to the town dubbed "Coast Guard City, USA," it's worth the trip if you're on the west side of Michigan. Grand Haven State Park sits on the edge of the beach, and is typically full of RVs. The walk along the Grand River as it empties into Lake Michigan is enjoyable in the summer, with food and trinket stands along the way. There's a memorial to the USCGC Escanaba, the Coast Guard ship that called Grand Haven home before it was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean in World War II. Each late July/early August, the annual Coast Guard Festival takes place. I didn't get the chance to go two years ago, and wish I had.

In town, there always seems to be something happening. Every time I've been there, downtown's streets have been closed because of some event. This time, an art fair took over the main stretch in town, with tents and people everywhere. A BMX tournament was happening across the street from the river. US-31 is always packed on the north side of town. It's a town that knows how to have a good time.

I'm still eating these, and will for
at least a week.
My fiance and I loved spending our day on the west side of the state. In addition to the lake, we spent the afternoon with my sister, her boyfriend and one of her friends picking blueberries at a farm west of Allendale in Ottawa County. It's the first time I've ever done something like that for blueberries, and the 2.60 pounds of blueberries we gathered is going to good use so far.

The berries look like lighter on the vine, but after a few hours, they turned a deeper blue, looking like blueberries everyone knows and loves.It's an area I decided I need to return to. Living in Metro Detroit is convenient with family and friends, but I could picture myself somewhere near the lake.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer is here; feel inspired to travel via the Pure Michigan ad campaign

Summer is finally here.

For those looking to travel around the state, they are many opportunities for a vacation location. Of course, the Pure Michigan campaign has some suggestions as well.

Because it's likely I won't be traveling too much this summer (booooo), I've gone ahead and done the dreaming for it. I've created a map with all the local Pure Michigan ads, both radio and television, to help inspire readers. Each ad presents a certain area, including those that people may not think of for a vacation, such as Flint.

What's your favorite ad?

View Pure Michigan ad locations in a larger map UPDATE: Thanks to the Pure Michigan Twitter account for sharing this post!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New outsdoors ads show for the Pure Michigan campaign released

The national Pure Michigan campaign has released its new television ads, and a pair of them focus on Michigan's outdoors.

Four communities/attractions were featured: Ann Arbor, The Henry Ford museum, Mackinac Island and Traverse City. The Ann Arbor ad focuses on the cultural aspect of the city, which its known for. The Henry Ford, obviously for its historical artifacts and Greenfield village.

But the two that focus on Michigan's outdoors feature Mackinac Island and Traverse City. The Traverse City ad uses the phrase "True North," and describes Sleeping Bear Dunes and sunsets over Lake Michigan.

The Mackinac Island ad showcases the natural beauty of the island, as well as the tourist-y aspect.

Take a watch of both of the below, and see the other two on the Pure Michigan blog:

Mackinac Island

Traverse City

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Rec Passport is now needed for state forests and non-motorized pathway parking

It's been a different scene since the launch of the Recreation Passport in Michigan in 2010.

It replaced the annual window sticker and daily pass. It became available to the motorist when they renewed their license plate tabs every year for the price of $10. This decreased the cost of admission for a year in the state parks in Michigan more than half.

It's been a great tool in enlisting people to come to Michigan's state parks, and now, it's now needed for those who want to have access to store forest and non-motorized pathways owned by the Department of Natural Resources.

It's a move that was coming, since the Rec Passport had been heralded as the savior of the state park system. I loved the idea when it first came out, and I snagged it as soon as my tabs were expired. Since purchasing it, I've used it at at least two state parks, and will use it at several more this year.

State forest and non-motorized pathways will draw a new crop of users into the park system, and making the Recreation Passport a crucial part of streamlining a service that has struggled over the last decade can only improve the state's natural resources.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What's best for moose hunting, a rifle or a digital SLR?

(Flickr photo courtesy of als pictures)

I asked that very question Friday morning on Twitter after seeing a tweet regarding the possible opening of hunting moose for sport in Michigan.

Moose were reintroduced onto the mainland of Michigan back in the late 1980s after being mostly found on Isle Royale, which lies closer to Canada than the United States. Now, with the population growing, officials have debated on whether or not to allow hunters the ability to track and hunt them for sport.

But the article I spotted proposed a less violent alternative: instead of hunting and harvesting the moose, why not promote photographers go out and and shoot them with their camera?

I've not been lucky enough to capture an image of one of these animals. My buddy shot the very back end of two bull moose wandering down the Greenstone Trail on Isle Royale, but that's it. I've seen about 6 moose, but never had a camera on me. I'd love to see more beautiful shots.

With such a low number of moose still, I'm afraid it could hurt the grown of the moose back in its native Michigan. Even scientists are saying the growth is slower than what it should be.

With moose still being the elusive beasts they are, I think I'd rather see more photos of them rather than antlers on a wall, at least for the time being.

Which would you rather see: moose being hunted with rifles, or "hunted" with cameras?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scientist blogging his experience studying wolves and moose on Isle Royale this winter

While perusing New York Times' science site, one would find some blog posts that speaks to the heart of most outdoors men in this state: Scientist John Vucetich writing about the environment and habitat of the wildlife on Isle Royale.

Michigan's most-prized outdoor gem, Isle Royale is an isolated ecosystem, being 54 miles from the Michigan shoreline and 6 miles from Canada, it has a unique blend of wolves and moose on the island.

The blog posts are an inside look at the island, the only national park not accessible to visitors during the winter. They read like journal entries, but still are informative.

I remember seeing several moose on the island when I was there in 2005. No wolves, but I do remember hearing them howl when we were camping at Chickenbone Lake. Incredible creatures. I don't have any photo albums from that trip in my apartment where I'm writing this, but I do plan to share some in the future (the photo up top was found via Flickr).

Meanwhile, take a look at the posts written by Vucetich here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The outhouse joke wasn't completely correct by Snyder; either way, outhouses need to be open

The Detroit Free Press published a story today based solely on Gov. Rick Snyder's line about regulations requiring seats be put down in outhouses across the state.

The governor used the analogy to demonstrate the multitude of regulations on the state of Michigan. But the analysis reads that no such regulation requiring Michiganders to "put the seat down," just that outhouses must be covered when not in use.

Not many news stories stem from jokes made during a speech, but the concern shouldn't just be for keeping the seat down; it should be to keep the outhouses open.

When reading the story earlier today, it reminded me of the outhouse at the Sand Lakes Quiet Area we ran into at the end of the trail when we were there in May. Several of us went to use the outhouse, only to find that we couldn't because it was locked. This sign was on the door:

Besides the fact that Snyder got his facts wrong (while his spokeswoman minimized it, journalists would be chastised for the exact same action), the fact that many outhouses aren't even in service renders his point moot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

An outdoors stretch: the Ice Sculpture Festival in Tecumseh

I won't usually post items of events happening in a downtown area, but this was too cool to not share.

I moved to Lenawee County a year ago, and stumbled across last year's Tecumseh Ice Sculpture Festival by accident. This year, I made it a point to attend.

My fiance and I trekked down to Tecumseh mid-Saturday afternoon, and watched as several sculptures worked their craft and created works of art in the ice.

Here are several photos from the event this year:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cabin Fever: A classic trip to Island Lake Rec Area

The White Pine cabin at Island Lake. 

It's been a trip I've been taking since I began doing more rustic camping: a weekend every January at Island Lake State Recreation Area near Brighton with the group from St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield, the same group that I traveled with to the Sand Lakes area last May.

It's a trip I've taken almost every year since I was 9, and it's usually taken place at Island Lake, though one year we went to Bald Mountain up near Auburn Hills. We go out Friday night and return Sunday afternoon, doing all sorts of wintry activities that can be done with a group of 15+ males.

We almost didn't have the white powdery stuff, though. Early forecasts in the last week had no snow. Luckily, with some help (and a few prayers), we had about 4 inches to work with, perfect for sledding and cross-country skiing. The DNR even offered some help.

The lodging is done at the White Pine Cabin at Island Lake, one of two rustic cabins deep into the park. No electricity, no plumbing, just a gas stove for heat. A bunk room of about 20 beds and a main room with two large tables and a counter top for gear and storage.

We've always used gas lanterns for light, using about six throughout the cabin, and cook using stoves. We draw our water from a pump which draws from a well. It's quite the perfect set-up for a camping trip in the winter.

Sledding commences on a hill in the late-night hours Friday, a trip I didn't take after being completely exhausted that day. But if you've never sledded at night by lantern light, you're missing out.

We take a break on the trail, where we can see the shopping
center in Brighton, along with US-23.
Several hills dot the trails around the cabins, which makes for great cross-country skiing. It's the only weekend I do ski, and the combination hills and flat surfaces make for a good mix for beginning skiing. Even some of our younger campers were able to stay on their feet once they got used to the skis. Some spills happened (including a faceplant by this writer). And if you've never skied, it's a great workout; I'm still sore as I type this.

Since Kensington Metro Park's hills were closed to sledders, we improvised by sledding at the hills around Spring Mill Pond, a nice alternative. No crowds, fast hills and a great view of the snowy hills. Aside from some hunters, not a soul was seen.

Overall, a successful weekend was had for the first camping trip of 2012. Enough snow, no injuries, and a fun time. To explain it better, I'll allow the following quick video interview to tell about the weekend, along with some added statements and visual from some fellow campers of mine: