The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

 

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



There is an invasive species that has been decimating hemlock trees in America for decades. It is a small insect similar to an aphid called the wooly adelgid.
This insect is native to Asia and made its way to America via imported plants in the 1950s. It has  been slowly spreading for decades and has made its way to northern Michigan. This pest has recently been found in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. 

I often hike in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes and have seen many mature hemlock trees in these forests.

One of my favorite hikes is at the Traverse City Commons, and there are some massive hemlocks there. 

Check out the view from the wooded dunes:




There is a hemlock that I visit there, and after the recent storms, I was sorry to see it had developed a crack in the trunk. 



These trees are the preferred feast for the wooly adelgid. They congregate on the underside of the needles and suck the sap out of the tree. The needles turn brown and new growth is inhibited. Infested trees can die within 4-10 years.

Trees can be treated with pesticide and can be saved if infestation is caught early.

Severe winters helped to slow the spread of this pest.


Update (info from NPS):  Though the tiny insects don’t move far on their own, they can be blown by wind or hitchhike on birds or mammals – including humans - that come into contact with an infested branch. In a similar way, cars, boats, tents, or RVs parked under infested trees may be able to transport the insects to new locations.


So, clean your boots and NEVER transport wood from one area to another.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Shadows

 

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



I have continued to hike during this latest blast of polar air and steady snowfalls. There's something special about hiking in untouched snow, of seeing the whiteness sparkle in the sunshine. 

I especially like winter hikes when the sun is out because the light bounces and becomes more brilliant. 

Here's a look at some shadows on my hike today:














Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ice on the Great Lakes


Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



This winter, the Great Lakes have had very little ice coverage. 

     

On average, 

ice coverage is down 22% since 1973

Less ice on the lakes means more evaporation and more lake effect snow. Warming waters destabilize the lake's ecosystem making it more vulnerable to disruptions and crashes.

The temperature finally dipped in February and I made my way to the lakeshore to check out ice formation on Lake Michigan. It was brutally cold, in the teens even before the wind chill was considered. It was comfortable (with the correct layering and coat) when hiking with the wind to my back, but walking into the wind was tough.

Check out the icy beach:











Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Great Lakes OTTERS

 Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



Did you know that there are otters in the Great Lakes? Have you ever seen one?

During my adventures, I have seen otters on three of the Great Lakes (Michigan, Huron and Superior). I saw otter tracks on North Manitou Island. I watched them feed as the sun set on Lake Huron.

This week I took a drive out to Leland (Michigan) and saw something on the ice in the harbor. I parked as the otter finished chewing what it had caught and slid back into the harbor. 

I walked out on a dock to get a closer look and the otter surfaced again, spent some time chewing, then slid back into the water. 

Otters are fun to watch, especially if there is more than one. They are playful and animated.

Check out my photo and video from this encounter...and keep your eyes open for your own otter sighting.




Sunday, January 24, 2021

Snowshoeing Palmer Woods Reserve

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



We're finally getting some snow here in Michigan's NW lower peninsula. I've had my snowshoes in my car for several weeks, but today was the first time I took them out for a hike.

I've been meaning to get out to the Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, one of Leelanau Conservancy's properties. This wooded reserve is located about 2.5 miles south of M22 on S. Wheeler Road near Maple City. 



There are both mountain bike (or fat tire) trails along with trails dedicated for hiking.
I avoid trails where mountain bikes are allowed during the mild months...I don't like having to watch my back for bikes. During the winter, these trails are quiet, and the dedicated trails make for a relaxing hike.




Some of the trails had been groomed for cross-country skiing, so I stayed off those (or hiked off to the side) so as not to mess up the grooming with my snowshoe tracks.
Check out some photos and a video from my snowshoeing hike:







The Great Lakes have set a record for lack of ice this year. Read more HERE.



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Trees

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/



I get out to hike at least twice a week no matter the weather. I love being out there in the elements, pushing against the wind, balancing on ice, pushing to get up the next hill.

There's always something to see.

Wildlife, plants, fungi, tracks, clouds.

This week, I hiked the trails at the The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. There are a few miles of trails looping through and up some tall, wooded dunes.

I came across a tree being dismantled by pileated woodpeckers. This bird was the inspiration for 'Woody Woodpecker,' and its call is similar to the laughter of the cartoon character.

Check out these photos and one video:



The woodpecker is at the top of the above photo.





There is a massive hemlock (~12 feet in diameter) on these trails. It's quite a specimen!





Sunday, January 3, 2021

First Hike of 2021

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/


Happy New Year!

My first hike of the New Year was out at the Dune Climb in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The first dune off the parking lot was dotted with kids on sleds. It's a great ride, even when there's just a dusting of snow.


I love to watch the interplay of sand and snow on these dunes:










And the sand and snow reveal which creatures are on the move in the landscape.





I love this landscape in any season. It's an extra-challenging workout when the snow begins to drift amongst the dunes.
A late season freighter moved through the Manitou Passage today (below).





Happy 2021 everyone. 

We made it through 2020. Yay!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Most Popular Post of 2020

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/




Here's the most popular post from 2020:

I hiked part of Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore today at Glen Haven.




The beaches of Lake Michigan usually appear tan or even whitish in color, but if you pick up a handful of sand and look closely, there is a mixture of colors. Silica and quartz give the sand its light color, but there are specks of black from the mineral magnetite. 

This mineral is heavier than the other grains, so it often gathers in bands or patches on the shoreline, sorted by wind and waves.



Today, I came across the largest deposit of magnetite I've ever seen along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. A long section of black sand on the beach.




Wave action has been strong along the lakeshore this winter, and the lake level set an all-time high earlier this year. This has led to increased amounts of magnetite deposited on the shoreline.

Watch the video below to see how deep the deposit was:








Yes, this mineral has been on the beaches for a long time. Here's a post I did about these black sands over a decade ago:


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Part 3)

Loreen Niewenhuis is an author, adventurer, and dynamic speaker. 

She has completed a trilogy of 1,000-mile journeys exploring the Great Lakes and has authored three books about these adventures. 


To learn more about her work, or to engage her as a speaker, go to 

http://www.laketrek.com/great-lakes-speaker/


Here's the final photo essay of my October hike 
along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
(Thanks to April for sharing her stunning photos.)

Me, Julie, and Zan

One of the many rivers along the lakeshore



Wonderful rocky beach




Chain coral

One of the best things about hiking in a group is that everyone brings their own experience and knowledge to the hike. This group of women have collectively hiked thousands of miles and bring so much to the experience of hiking together.

On this hike, Julie introduced us to the wintergreen plant and berry.

If you've had wintergreen gum, you've tasted this distinctive flavor. It's much better to munch the little berries fresh off the plant!


The leaves can also be used to brew tea. 


Here are a few more stunning shots of this National Lakeshore:





Chapel Rock






Miners Castle 



Happy on the trail