Pinckney Recreation Area, November 14, 2003

Andy just dropped me off. We're back from a day of the mapping of alternate routes to the Waterloo-Pinckney trail. We both have GPS (using Garmin eTrex) track data and we both took several waypoints along the way. Now we just have to remember which waypoints are for what (if it were only easier to name them in the field - and have longer names too). While we did not do what we originally planned on doing we did a decent amount especially considering that it is now late fall and all the leaves are down covering up the small trails. It is also remarkable how quickly the plants have grown back since the Dances With Dirt took place.

Our original plan was the log data for the leg 5 portion of DWD. We got to Half Moon Lake and started roaming around looking for the trail. We found where it entered the woods and set off. Immediately climbing to the ridge we found private homes - ops. No good. We went back down to a fork and went down into the valley so low and started looking for the trail there - no joy. We found little animal trails but not what we wanted. We decided to work our way back to the car (parked at the entrance to the parking area for the lake; the parking area was closed) via the "low path" through the dale we were hiking in. That took us back to the initial path (I think I kept the GPS route we actually took - if I did I'll share it) and then noticed another trail at the DWD flag remnant that looked promising. It really did look good as it zoomed off to the left, but it soon petered out and we were stuck again. At this point we decided enough was enough and we would go to Hell and hike a different leg from there - a trail we felt sure we could find.

We drove to Hell and dropped the car off at the County Store and then began to hike what I believe was leg 9 of the DWD race route. We had some initial difficulty at the start of the trail where it entered the woods but soon we were well on the right path. It was definitely easier following this trail than what we had been doing. Far easier. We wound our way along the small trail until we hit to Potowatomi and then we began walking along that looking for where the DWD route returned to the woods. We thought it was after the first bridge you come too but we past first one side trail on the right that seemed to go right to private property and then another, and another which we took and that lead us out to Wieman Road near Centerline Road. Back to the Potowatomi we went and we crossed another bridge and found a trail going off to the left that actually had a piece of orange flag hanging on. Ah ha! Found it! We were back where we really wanted to be on this late afternoon balmy partly sunny afternoon.

The going got hairy on this last portion. We were following the small florescent green and white paint dots that marks trees along the route but that got trickier and tricker. I don't think I could have followed the path at all. We had several false leads especially when we found ourselves moving across a rather soft section of trail in a hollow between two ridges. We regained the ridge and kept following the dots until we hit more official trail again. We followed that for a bit and re-entered the "un-official" trail and where soon overwhelmed. It may be a trail but the brush had grown so thick it was just too much bother to push through it. Of course, like the intrepid hikers we are we did try to push through for quite some time before giving up. It was, after all, getting later and we had a ways to go still. We returned to the official trail and began our northward journey again. We crossed over that wonderful high bridge before Glenn (oh dear, forgot the name) something road near #10 (I think) and kept going. We kept going and in time found a side trail that we felt would take us in the direction we wanted and so we took it. It popped us out on a small dirt road I believe is Westshore Drive which in turned placed us, perhaps 5-10 minutes later, on Patterson Lake road about a mile west of the County Store and the car.

I only saw a single biker on the Potowatomi (Andy saw another while we were off-trail). Nobody else was out. It was a fine day to be out. We all (including Keila - Andy's dog) had a great time. It's definitely tougher to follow trail in late fall, but we got a good start on things and have ideas of where we ned to go next and how to best approach this project as time goes by.

If I can figure out how to do it I will have nicely overlaid maps available pretty quickly. Andy will probably get there before I do, but we'll see. Heck, if I can figure it out (big if) it would be neat to put this data online using some sort of mapserver software that lets you overlay it on most anything. We'll see.

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