A Collection of Michigan Snowy Day Hikes - 2004-2005

Waterloo-Pinckney Mapping Project: The Maze bounded by Mt. Hope, Glenn, and Maute Roads

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John, Andy, and I spent the day in Waterloo Recreation Area. Quite a day. A fine blue sky, cold, and with minimal wind. All in all a good day to be outdoors engaging in another day of mapping the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail and associated side trails. Our goal was the map the maze of horse trails bounded by Mt. Hope road, Glenn road, and Maute road. There are major and minor trails in this area and only the primary trails are on the sketchy map that is generally available. It's quite apt to call this area labyrinthine.

We converged at the Mt. Hope road parking lot by the large field with it's lone dead oak tree just after 9:00am. Some how we all thought it was going to be much more brutal out there and we had dressed accordingly. Andy, in particular, brought enough insulation to fit out extra people if they had needed it even though that was not his intention. I think we all thought it would be much windier than it was.

I'm not even going to try an describe the route we walked. This was a mapping day. While it has affected our plans for the night hike this day was spent in service of our mapping every trail in Waterloo-Pinckney project. Our goal was to wander the trails between where we parked and Glen Road. It doesn't look like much on a map, but this is chock full of horse trails off the WPT with side trails off those horse trails.

We walked along the WPT to a side trail that would take us Glenn road and then after some road walking we got another side trail that took us back to the WPT and the real work began. As Andy has noted the trails in this area are frequented by horses. Horses really tear up a trail. They leave divests in their wake. Hoof sized holes that when frozen in place create a walking surface not unlike walking across a trail full of small stones with lots of gaps. Good ankle twisting territory. It slows you down. On some of the trails, especially the older ones, the ground is hard enough that the holes are minor. In some places there was enough snow to fill in the holes making the going much easier. And on those snowier trails we were treated to the pleasing sight of animal tracks. We certainly saw coyote tracks, but raccoon and rabbit were also thought to be seen. We even found some large unidentifiable scat (not horse).

We spent the day roaming along the side trails in this area. This involved a fair bit of climbing up and down hills that drop you into what in the summer are truly bug infested swampy spots. The region is full of these little indentations. I suppose they've been here since the glaciers retreated over 10,000 years ago. There are some really great side trails that you can use to make large loops here. While many of them skirt private land that is hardly a distraction to their quality. A far bigger distraction, most noticeable on the southern ridges, is I-94.

We saw two people the entire day. Both were horse ladies. The first was on Glen road when we had paused to download trail data gathered by Andy's GPS into the laptop computer. The second time, in mid-afternoon, we were marching down one of the numerous side-trails and a lady on a fine dark brown (or was it black?) horse came up from behind to pass us by. Nice lady and a nice horse. Her two dogs came by shortly thereafter. Lovely animals.

The sun had set and we still had a few side trails to hike. But they were in line with our route back to the cars which we were already following (on, you guessed it, another horse trail off the WPT - the green and yellow trail back to Katz road). Dusk was settling upon us as we finished and strode across the open field with its lone oak tree to the cars. Had we needed to extra light from the crescent moon (34% illuminated) we would have had it since the skies were still clear with just a few clouds drifting by. Of course, as we crossed the field we all felt the chill of the wind that was blowing. While there had been breezes all day long the forest protected us from them.

It was a successful day of hiking and mapping. It was a tiring one too. It is remarkable how many trails are back there and, as you might expect, we some backtracking to do. For those curious about numbers we've no doubt that we did at least 12 miles. It could have been a fair bit more. I slept well last night.

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