Mike Terrell 5/18/09
For the last 23 years many of you had followed my outdoor activities and resultant columns in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, but that came to an end in January when the paper lost its freelance budget for outdoor columnists. Daily newspapers are fighting for their very lives and having to cut budgets wherever they can.
It was disappointing. I was saddened by the fact that I never got to write a final column for all my loyal readers. In 23 years I had heard from many of you, especially when my wife Kathy passed away in 1997. I got hundreds of heartfelt responses, but I also heard from many over the years about how they enjoyed the columns, saved and used them. Some columns that readers showed me were from the late 1980s and early 1990s, yellowed and worn, but still being used.
The interaction with readers was one of the things I enjoyed most. Telling them of neat places to go outdoors, new areas to explore and new activities to try were also high on the list; plus I got to explore and enjoy new areas writing about them.
A NEW BEGINNING
The good news is that now you will be able to keep reading about all those things in Northern Express, and Im looking forward to a long association with the paper. Maybe not 23 years, but who knows? Im 66 years old, still enjoy getting outdoors and still enjoy writing about it. Over the years Ive written for a lot of publications and outlets. My degree was in journalism, and its served me well.
In addition to now writing for the Northern Express, Im currently the Midwest editor for OnTheSnow.com and Ski Press Magazine, regional editor covering six regions around the country for Mountaingetaway.com, and my articles appear annually in Cross Country Skier magazine. In past years Ive been Midwest editor for all three ski magazines; SKI, Skiing and Snow Country when it was around. Ive written articles for the Chicago Tribune, Detroit News, Booth Newspapers, Michigan Golfer, Michigan Living and many other regional publications and newspapers over the years, as well as authoring two books on outdoor activities, and well over 1,000 columns for the Record-Eagle.
Its been a good life. Ive seen lots of beautiful natural areas over the years from all over the country. But, Im always glad to get back home. I think we live in one of the greatest areas of the country for outdoor activities. Although not widely publicized, this is one of the heartlands top destinations for silent sports. Its a four-season paradise for this kind of activity; hiking, cycling, paddling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, rafting or fly fishing to name just a few.
Traverse City is kind of a boom area for these types of activities, said Joel Patenaude, editor for Silent Sports Magazine, when I spoke with him last summer for another article. Its all there in one area, and participants tend to like to stay in one location multiple days for a variety of activities. The Grand Traverse Region lends itself perfectly to that concept. Patenaude, of course, was alluding to visitors to the region, but as residents we enjoy it year round.
When I began writing for the Record-Eagle years ago I wondered how long I could keep coming up with fresh articles and ideas for outdoor activities and places to visit. Twenty three years later Im still coming up with new places to visit, new trails to explore and new parcels of unexplored land keep opening up thanks to the Grand Traverse and Leelanau Land Conservancies. Its like a never-ending smorgasbord, and I never tire of sampling its fare.
The trails that Ive been cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on throughout the long, just-finished winter are many of the same trails I now hike and mountain bike with my three labs. Forest trails are surrounded by a carpet of wildflowers and trees with emerging leaves. Its a great time of year to be out, especially after a long, hard winter; one of the longest that I can recall in 30 years of living up here. And, who knows? You may be lucky enough to find a few morel mushrooms, one of the areas most prized springtime delicacies. Thats another article.
Mountain bikers are drawn to the VASA Single-Track off Supply Road, one of the Great Lakes regional premier mountain bike trails, and the newly opened Day Hill Trail at Arcadia Dunes in Benzie County near Upper Herring Lake. Both are excellent mountain biking trails with Day Hill being the more challenging. Of course, there are forest roads, dirt roads and numerous named trails throughout the region open to both hikers and mountain bikers, including much of the North Country Trial; the nations newest long distance trail.
Cyclists enjoy the many miles of lightly-traveled country roads throughout the area. Some hug the Lake Michigan shoreline offering panoramic views of the lakeside country. My favorite rides are the circle rides around some of the regions large, beautiful inland lakes: Torch Lake, Lake Leelanau, Long Lake, Crystal Lake and Glen Lake. Add in the Rail-To-Trail routes like TART; the White Pine, which runs from Cadillac down to Big Rapids and south; Little Traverse Wheelway, hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs; the North Central State Trail, which runs from Gaylord to Cheboygan and Mackinaw City; the Betsie Valley Trail, which runs from Thompsonville to Frankfort, and you have a huge variety of scenic routes from which to choose.
Paddlers are drawn to the regions many choice rivers, lakes and bays. Some of the areas smaller lakes Pearl Lake, Lake Dubonet, Brown Bridge Pond offer intimate glimpses of sandhill cranes, loons, ospreys and eagles as part of a hushed, almost reverent experience, and deer can often be spotted along the waters edge. Rivers flow through large tracts of uninhabited forest, which just adds to the quiet serenity of a river trip.
We even have a little bit of whitewater for those looking for an adrenaline rush. The Boardman Rivers Beitner Rapids, located just south of town, is a short stretch of pretty straightforward but exciting rapids that will definitely increase your heart rate; not recommended for novice paddlers. Its the Lower Peninsulas only true rapids.
For those that like to toss a line, Northern Michigan has long been considered one of the best places in the Lower 48 to indulge in the exquisitely silent sport of fly fishing, which has often been called the Sport of Kings. In 2008, Field & Stream named Traverse City one of Americas Best Fishing Towns. Within an hour of the city limits, anglers can find miles of blue-ribbon trout streams like the Boardman, Manistee, AuSable and Pere Marquette rivers.
Its not hard to see why Patenaude names Traverse City as a leading silent sports destination in the Great Lakes region. We just dont want to shout about it. I look forward to bringing you many more Northern Express articles on the numerous opportunities that abound in our area. Its my passion, and I enjoy telling you about it.