Sackrider Hill, Waterloo-Pinckney Trail, January 4, 2003

It's time for another John Lawton lead hike. John picked me up when he said he would and we set out for Sackrider Hill in Jackson County. We arrived a little before 10:00 and settled in to wait to see if anyone else would show up. Soon Dennis pulled in to the space next to us in his pickup truck. We waited some more. We were going to wait until 10:15 or so. "30 seconds to go." John quipped. Well we didn't quite set out in 30 seconds but we knew whoever came, if anyone did, could just follow our tracks. We were almost ready to go when another car pulled into the lot. It looked rather like Andy's red whatever-that-is. It looked like it because it was it. Andy got out saying we were keeping "airline time" which was true. On went the NEOS overboots (Andy, me). On went Andy Mont-Belle down liner (so light; so warm). Other people put on what they wanted to put on. We began our climb up Sackrider hill (1130' above sea level) around 10:20 on a high overcast around 30*F day.

We didn't hang around long at the hilltop. Long enough to check the elevation marker that was there and see how close it was to the reading my GPS was giving. Pretty close. Then it was time to start ambling down the Waterloo-Pinckney trail. While there is snow everywhere there seems to be even less snow than here in Ann Arbor. However, there is enough to garland the trees in white sugar; enough to cover hidden logs; and actually too much to make track identification easy.

We strolled down the fairly quiet (not counting the nearby road) trail looking for the field that had a geocache in it. I had marked a waypoint for the cache, but I was not actually looking at my GPS as we walked. John, as most of you know by now, is exceedingly familiar with this area. He knew which little field at the bottom of which glacial deposited hillside we were looking for. When he said we were here I checked the GPS and sure enough we were within a couple hundred feet of where the cache was located a little to the southeast of our location on the trail. Down the hill, across the meadow, and to the border of the woods we went. Very close now. We went one way then decided it had to be the other way and soon after that decision a discovery was made. "I found it," John called out. Dennis and I were coming at the cache from the other side of it and as it turned out John probably had the better angle on it. It was pretty much right where it should have been. It was a nice little treat finding the cache. We left a note and then moved on.

The trail rolled through the hills and ridges of the area. We saw a few hunters and was saw many more tracks. Tracks of all sorts though figuring out what they were was hard (I actually saw few, if any, tracks). We think we saw: deer, coyote, racoon, turkey, and I think I am leaving one or two out. Plenty of tracks. We went off-trail to a little point around noon for lunch. Then it was back on the WAterloo-Pinckney trail.

On we went. We crossed over Glen road and then a small dam and then we came to another of the many spur trails. The area is covered with side trails of varying length. Many are created by the horse riders. They just go and go over time on the same route and a trail is born. This can, and does, cause confusion when you are trying to stay on the Waterloo-Pinckney trail, but not today. We reached a spur trail that took us to another portion of Glen road. We had passed a couple more hunters with beagles (including one, Ally, that clearly liked our company more than her - I'm guessing - masters), along the way to Glen road. W found a lone truck there festuned with stickers that seem to be a few hundred miles and a century and a half out of their normal element. Confederate flags.

We returned to the trail. It was time to head back, on a different route, back to Sackrider Hill. We walked returned down the spur trail and then took another spur trail this time to Willis Road. We were avoiding the hunters. We walked down Willis road for several minutes and re-joined the Waterloo-Pinckney trail for a time. THen the John Lawton special kicked in. It was time to detour off the trail. Off the trail we went into the valleys that the trail skirts here. I think everyone managed to avoid any serious pricking from thorns. No tears in any clothing at least. We crossed over a small stream that was not completely frozen yet and certainly looked pretty. We ambled further on down the valley for some more time before ascending up to the ridge to where the trail actually was. All the time conversations flowed back and forth and we enjoyed the day and each others company.

When we returned to the trail we only had a modest way to go before we found ourselves back at Sackrider Hill. This time we had entertainment. A small group of guys and girls had sleds and were attempting to run the steep hillside. It was a hard and fast run. Even if you could not see the run it was clear it had its share of hard bumps. We heard involuntary grunts from the riders and they shot down the tall slope. I think it would be a great sledding hill if there were a bit more snow to cushion the bumps. But, those people were having fun. They even had fun knowing we were watching them having fun.

All in all we hiked about 7.5 miles over about four hours. The day had warmed up, or maybe it was just me, and it was a good day of enjoyable hiking. We all had fun.


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