Great Lakes Hikes 2002 NCTA School House Gathering

November 8, Camp Newaygo Wetland | November 9, NCT: Echo Drive to 3 Mile | November 10, NCT: 3 Mile to 6 Mile

GLH Gathering, November 8, 2002. Camp Newaygo Wetland Trail

This is being written long after the annual gathering at the White Cloud Schoolhouse. I believe I wrote a trip journal at the time of the gathering in November, but I cannot locate any trace of the journal now. A lot of the flavor and some of the detail will no doubt be lost in this document due to the passage of time. But, I hope you still enjoy what you read.

John picked me up Friday morning when he said he would. We made a quick stop at Bivuac so I could purchase additional orange spoons and forks. It turned out the demand for these was a bit higher than had been anticipated so I had to get some extras (though it now looks like I will have extras of my own). After that stop the drive to Newaygo on this sunshine filled afternoon was easy going. We passed the time by chatting and listening to the Todd Mondt show.

We arrived at the River Stop café that Paul had suggested we meet at with plenty of time to spare. We had ample time to sit down and place orders for what turned out to be rather tasty sandwiches. As we knoshed on our food Paul and Dave showed up and joined us in our mid-afternoon meal. The drive to the Camp Newaygo wetlands which are near a YWCA camp was easy enough once we figured out where we were. It was a little before 16:00 when we arrived at the trail head of the Wetlands Trail.

This trail is a boardwalk that is perhaps 3/4 of a mile long followed by a tiny segment off the boardwalk that is within the woods at an edge of the wetlands. So, this is hardly a typical hiking trail. If you think of it as a nature trail you are going to be closer to the mark. There is a lot of nature around even though you are very close to active roads. For example, at the very start of the boardwalk there are numerous tamarack trees. These trees at first appear to be conifers since they have needles instead of leaves. But, the are deciduous trees and when we saw them their needles were a deep golden color. Of course, many of the tamarack (and other trees too) had lost their needles and were simply bare.

Even though it is late fall there is still obvious animal life around. We heard birds and even saw a few. We spent several minutes watching, and trying to photograph, a red-headed woodpecker of some sort. We also came across interesting seed pods. At least that is what we think they were. None of us was really sure what these puffball white things were, but since they were at the end of plant stalks it seemed likely they were some sort of seed pod. Certainly something plant related.

The boardwalk is essential. The bog around us is clearly deep. We found ample evidence of that when John found a stick just to the left of the boardwalk. The stick was sticking out from a small pool by just a few inches. John, pulled it out, and pulled it out, and pull it out some more. By the time John had pulled the entire stick out he was holding a branch that must have been about 10 feet long. And, when he put the branch back where it had come from we learned that it had not been resting on the bottom of the bog. In other words that spot is at least 10 feet deep.

After spending a bit more than an hour wandering the boardwalk and the tiny bit of forest we returned to our cars for the short drive to the school house outside of White Cloud. We were among the first, though not the first, to arrive. As the sun set and evening settled upon us more and more people showed up. Everyone enjoyed schmoozing, having a nice meal, and just hanging out with each other. Tomorrow we will do our first day hike of the weekend. We’ll decide exactly where to hike tomorrow.

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