Friday, January 20, 2017

Still no snow at Island Lake State Rec Area

The Huron River in Island Lake State Rec Area.
It's been several years, but once again, my annual trip to Island Lake State Recreation Area near Brighton saw no snow for the middle of January, just like 2013. What to do, what to do.

It's still an annual retreat I take each year with the same youth group I've been in/led since I was 9. It's a highlight trip to take when otherwise, I'd go several months without a night in the woods. This year was no different.

Piggybacking off of our activities from the outing in September, some of us decided to bust out our GPS devices during a hike on the very-icy trails and locate some geocaches around the area. Several were around, though the most impressive one we found was in a small prescription pill bottle hung about 20 feet in a tree. This didn't prove to be a challenge for one of our group members, who decided to climb the tree and log our group into the vial. Take a look:

It wasn't the only cache found. After returning to the cabin where we've stayed for years, I went onto my geocaching app and discovered another one nearby the cabin, one that had been there for 15 years. After a little looking, a friend and I stumbled across it, hiding underneath some wood. Filled
with small children's toys, we logged our group and added it to the app. Success!

A small cache of toys and stickers.
I was first exposed to the hobby back in September and I haven't done a lot with it, but having no snow to ski or sled with forced us to think outside the box. It's worthy of your time if you're in a wooded area and are looking to add a touch of adventure to that hike you planned out.

What else to do?
No snow requires more than just hikes and geocaching. Outings like these attract a wide range of members, and feeding them is no small feat.
Cooking takes up a good amount of time in the cabin, but these meals aren't anything most of the boys are used to. For example, I led a small band of fearless chefs (read: high schoolers) to create a
Lasagna stew. Couple it with a Kings Hawaiian roll and you've
got quite the meal.
lasagna stew using ingredients such as ricotta cheese, onions, spices and broken lasagna noodles. The dish turned up a little more soupy than expected, but even the pickiest of eaters with our group decided to give it a go. If you've got the time, there are plenty of recipes out there to try

A good cabin outing is nothing without games. I've created a list of them on the app, though I'm not aware of a way to drop an embed code to that list. Some of those great games include:

  • Chess: One of the classics, it's a game I don't really play unless I'm away from home. Using a cobbled-together set along with an old board, it's a great game to concentrate on. I left the weekend 1-1.
  • Euchre: Seriously, I think it's a prerequisite for Michiganders who go to the woods play this game. It's one that doesn't get a lot of attention outside of the Midwest, but here's more info if you're curious.
  • Skittles: A game I've never seen anywhere else. Crafted many years ago by our leader's father, this game involves a wooden top, several wooden pins and a wooden box with slots cut out of it. Points are scored by knocking over pins as the top spins, and more points are scored for knocking down pins in the back rooms of the box. Take a look:

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