Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What to do on a winter cabin trip to Island Lake State Recreation Area without any snow?

It was a completely different year for the annual cabin trip to Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton Township.

In the 12 or so years I've spent a weekend at the state recreation area, we've always had snow for skiing, sledding and other winter activities. Sometimes it's a bit low and we have to improvise, but we always have snow. Not so this year.

Part of the group before heading out on the morning hike
around Island Lake.
A huge contrast to last year, the little snow on the ground was not enough for any winter activities. No snow meant no sledding, and we had to improvise.

After unpacking Friday night and settling in, Saturday was spent out hiking in the woods. Putting about 5 miles on my boots around the rustic cabin area was a welcome addition, although it felt more like November than January. Winter hiking without snow can be a bit drab, since there is no color and no snow to brighten up the trail. Mud lined the trail, making it difficult to hike up some of the hills without going off the trail.

One of the leaders of the group I went with tried to make the morning hike more interesting by having a  scavenger hunt. Finding items such as birds, bridges, leaves and other items tried to make it more entertaining, which it achieved.

The Huron River. I hear it's a nice canoe ride, although
I've never done it.
The highlights of the trail in the winter have to be the bodies of water along the way. The Huron River runs through the park, including the area we hiked through.

It's narrow through this area of the park before dropping down to Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor. The water traveled slowly through the park, and was a soothing sight in an area that appeared rough and brown.

I've always loved going out to Island Lake, and the trip means I've crossed off one of my top places I need to see this year. It's not too far, and it has such a wide array of space and activities close by. I've never been during the warmer months, and I'm curious to see if my experience would change if I was there seeing swimmers instead of cross-country skiers.

More photos from the trip are below. Take a look:

Bridge over a creek on the trail.

Picture of a picture of a picture. Inception, outdoors style.

No trip is complete without a solid meal. This concoction
consisted of pork with vegetables in a tomato sauce, egg
noodles, a Hawaiian roll and apple cider. Fantastic.

Is there a highlight you have of going to Island Lake? If so, let me know. I'd like to hear more thoughts on a park I've grown up with.

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