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My Top Five Outdoor Adventures

Mike Terrell - January 4th, 2010
My Top Five Outdoor Adventures
By Mike Terrell
I look at the New Year as an adventure with lots of opportunity to
revisit many of my favorite outdoor activities and places; but it’s
also a time to plan ahead with some new outdoor adventures. There are
always outings left that I’d hoped to get in this past year that carry
over, and there are those adventures that I’ve been putting off for
years. Maybe this is the year to get some of those on my list.
Here are my five top outdoor things that I would like to accomplish in 2010.

SOMETHING GRAND
First up is a trip to the Grand Canyon.  I’ve wanted to see it for
years, and just haven’t found the right time. I’ve been traveling in
the Southwest for the last three years around southern Utah and
Colorado and Arizona and New Mexico. I’ve seen incredible national
parks and monuments and canyons, but not the Grand Canyon. I was
thinking about it this past November on my trip out there, but daytime
temperatures of 30s and 40s and nighttime temps dipping into the teens
told me it was not the right time for a visit.
I plan on driving around the entire Grand Canyon, which will take four
or five days to complete.  I like to hike trails and take my time
exploring overlooks and absorbing the history of the land and people
that inhabited it over the last thousand or so years.  I have no
desire to hike along the rim when it’s cold, and especially with
possible ice and snow.  It’s not a place you want to be slipping and
sliding alongside a big – make that huge – drop.  Early spring or
October is a target date to avoid the summer heat.

ISLAND ADVENTURE
North Manitou Island has been on my radar for -- I hate to say it --
the last 20 or more years.  This is a trip that annually is on my list
of summer things to do, but for one reason or another it’s one that I
have yet to make.
The old Four Preps song about visiting the Island of Santa Catalina,
“Twenty six miles across the sea, so near, yet so far,” always comes
to mind.  But, unlike the Preps, I’m not looking for romance, just the
seclusion of a beautiful, uninhabited, natural island that’s been
preserved in time and place.  Maybe I will take my water wings and
guitar.  You have to camp out a couple of nights.  The National Park
passenger boat only visits the island every couple of days.  Watching
the sunrise over the mainland is priceless.

CATCH A CAT
Seeing a cougar, the natural kind, not predatory middle-aged women, is
high on my list.  I believe they are out there, but, like yeti, they
are difficult to find.
My outdoor writing friend, novelist Bob Butz who lives in Lake Ann and
wrote the best book that I’ve found on the subject, Beast of Never,
Cat of God, encountered a cougar when he was researching the book.
His encounter was in the UP, but he believes there are a few in the
LP.  The National Park Service, despite any actual evidence of a big
cat, believes they reside in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
They have put up warning signs around the Lakeshore advising visitors
that, “This is cougar country.”  No visitor has seen one that’s been
officially verified, but, like the middle-age women who prowl the
bars, they remain hopeful.  I prowl the woodlands and dunes looking
for mine. Maybe 2010 will be the year I see one, hopefully going the
other way.

SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL
As strange as it may seem, another longtime goal would be seeing an
Eastern massasauga rattlesnake. This shy snake, Michigan’s only
venomous snake, is becoming rarer with each passing decade. The DNR
lists them as “a creature of special concern.” They are still around,
but rarely seen by state residents.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Department is looking at listing them as an endangered species. A
sluggish snake that would prefer to avoid human contact, they aren’t
considered much of a threat. But, don’t corner it or try picking it up
if you’re lucky enough to find one. It is poisonous, observe from a
safe distance.
They are mostly found in wetland areas. The Grand Traverse Regional
Land Conservancy in years past has sponsored a morning hunt with a
snake specialist at the Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area, which I’ve gone
on. I’ve hunted them on my own in an area called Rattlesnake Hills.
It’s located northwest of Atlanta and the High Country Pathway crosses
them. You would think with a moniker like Rattlesnake Hills that
finding one would be a slam dunk.  Not so, but I’m still looking.
Maybe I’ll hit the Daily Double and see both a cougar and a massasauga
rattlesnake on the same day. That would be an outdoor column.

FLOATIN’ A BOAT
The last item, and probably the most easy to accomplish, is a
kayak/camping trip on one of our rivers; probably the Manistee River
just because it has more camping opportunities along its shores than
other area rivers. I get in a lot of time on area rivers each year,
but it’s always day tripping. I fantasize what it must have been like
during pioneer days when our frontier ancestors used the rivers to get
around Northern Michigan camping along river banks as they plied the
waterways; starry nights, the murmur of the river, a soft breeze
rustling the leaves, ah peace and contentment. Just don’t let a
massasauga crawl in my sleeping bag.
See you in our great outdoors.

 
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