Here I am sitting at a picnic table with John, Elwira, and Andy. Steve is here somewhere. We are at the Green Lake Campground and we have had a good day - oh, and lest I forgt Keila is here too at our feet actually showing signs of being tired out. It is just after 7:00PM and the day is now starting to cool as the sun drops towards the shore of Green Lake. We left the Gerald Eddy Discovery Center with Joy also in attendance just before 10:00AM on this clear warm day. Our plan was to hike hither and yon to reach the campground. Joy was going to go as far as the access road and then turn around and return to her car - she still doesn't backpack though I am sure she will sometime.
We first mosied along a side trail that Lar and I had taken from the deer trail a couple weeks ago and this time we hiked all the way to Little Cedar Lake's access road. We mapped the trail segment and then headed back to the Center where to real trek would begin. During this time I took the opportunity to wield Steve's homemade hiking staff. He made this 6 foot tall staff out of carbon fiber arrow shafts that are screwed together. He can take the staff apart and use the two sections for shelter poles (short ones). The staff is exceedingly light, definitely flexible, probably not that durable, but also not expensive. We decided the weakest point was actually the joint, an arrow insert, that connects the two sections. I suggested he write an article for BackpackingLight.com descrbing how to build such a staff (turns out that an article already exists, but Ryan used carbon fiber fishing rod segments instead of arrow shafts).
When we returned to the Discovery Center the large group of hikers we had seen earlier was gone. This group was a huge, 30 or 40 strong, party from SOLAR. Every year at this time they do such a hike and we always forget. We were concerned that there were so many people since they were also going to stay at Green Lake Campground and the campground only has so many sites to go around. But what could we do. At least we wouldn't have to run into the massive group while doing our hike since they were certainly going to stick to the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail while we were going to spend most of our time on side trails that lead in the same general direction.
We wandered along the waterloo-Pinckney and side trails generally heading towards the Green Lake Campground. We were not in a hurry to get anywhere so taking the longer route made by the side trails was just fine with us. It had the added benefits of ensuring that we would not encounter anyone from the mass SOLAR group that was hiking towards Green Lake Campground too and permitting us to do more mapping of the trails in the area.
As we strolled along chatting with each other and enjoying the day we were also able to see the usual Spring sights. This time out they were not dominated by Spring Peepers, but that is only because this area doesn't have many. Instead we saw more Hipatica and there were more songs from birds to catch our ears' attention. The best birds we saw, or at east heard, were a couple wild turkeys near the beginning of day. At first John spotted the hen and tom off to our left sheltered by a bush. The turkeys moved away from us but stayed on the ground. When we caught up to their new area first one and then the other took flight. The slow, loud, rhythmic beating of their wings propelling them into the air. The day continued to warm up and we continued to move on. It felt good to be out hiking with friends and we we were having fun.
When we hit Calvary Cemetary we got our first pleasant surprise of the day One of the more impressive graves is home to Thomas Looney. What an apt last name for the LooNey trail as we have sometimes referred to the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail and its numerous serpentine twists and turns. Soon after leaving the cmetary we entered a pine grove that we had last visited a couple winters ago. It was nicer in the winter. In the Spring, or at least now, there were branches all about to catch yourself upon and the trail through it was markedly degraded when it was present at all. In the winter the trail is easier to spot - a winter trail. But now no such luck. As we moved through the dark and quiet grove we came upon first a pheasant or turkey feather and then one of the largest piles of coyote scat I think I have ever seen. This area is rife with coyote, deer, rabbit, and other animal signs.
When we passed Cassidy Lake Road the trail became familiar, John and I had hiked this portion last fall when scouting hikes for an eventual hopeful December hike. Tomorrow I expect we will hike the spiral segment that John and I traveled last fall, but this time we just continued along the WPT.
In time we reached the Green Lake access road and said goodbye to Joy. It was around 3:00PM when we walked around to the backside of the campground past numerous tents (the SOLAR group) and got ourselves all set up.
Later in the day the other people who said they were going to come made appearances. We have seen Alan and Jim from MSU, Brian and his family are around, and Jeremy was out and about during the day though is not staying as far as I know.
A leisurely afternoon spent relaxing and having an early dinner. Then a hike to M-52 and back just after 6:00PM. Now the sun is almost out of sight from my bench seat. it is getting time to finish this up and relax in the company of friends around the campfire that is being constructed.
When you arrive in camp so early you need to fiill your time somehow. We managed to do thisfairly well up through our afternoon snacks and sunset hike to M-52 and even through dinner at sunset. It would have gotten much harder to make the time flow by were it not for the abundance of dry wood and prairie grass that let us build a campfire. Steve would use the fire first for cooking but throughout the waning light and into the gathering night and beyond we sat around our steady source of light, comfort, and heat and talk. We were joined by Alan and his friend Jim and later by Brian, his wife Amy, and their toddler Adam who took a definite shine to the tuckered out Keila. What a fine night we had around a fine early Spring campfire under a partly cloudy, half-moonlit sky.
Now I am under the shelter of my tent listening to the rain drizzle down upon the outer surface wondering if I am up for good at the so unlike me hour of 7:00AM. I actually started moving closer to 6:30 and just spent the time listening to the sounds of the campground. I wish I could tell you all the sounds I am hearing. The various birds booth sweet and less sweet sounding; the sounds of what sounded like a turf war between animals - birds or mammals i do not know; the warble of sandhill cranes in the distance; the eerie elk like bugle of the water pump; and under it all the distant sound of M-52. The raiin has not dampened these sounds much at all though It remains to be seen if it dampens our enthusiasm to get up and go.