Sailing DeTour Passage

I recently had the good fortune to spend a week aboard Alwihta, a 28-foot Maurice Griffiths design that was built by a friend of mine, Fritz Seegers of Kalmazoo. Fritz is an artist and marine illustrator who draws regularly for Good Old Boat Magazine. (goodoldboat.com). He was cruising aboard, as he does every summer, when I caught up with at DeTour Village, the eastern-most tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

DeTour Passage is the narrows there, on the St. Mary’s River which connects northern Lake Huron with Lake Superior at the Sault Ste. Marie locks. It’s a great place to sail and see freighters up close as they navigate the shipping channel. Our plan was to explore several islands in the area, but our goal proved aspirational. Though we dropped anchor and spent the night at two of them, heavy weather and intermittent problems with the roller furling headsail limited our days on the water.

It was a delightful trip just the same and great opportunity to sail together again, as we have many times over the years, given the constraints of COVID-19 last year.

Alwihta was built 40 years ago by Fritz, in Kalamazoo. It’s a hull design based on the Kylix design that Griffiths, the British boat designer, author and yachtsman, built for himself at 70-years old for retirement. Griffiths was the editor of Yachting Monthly, a British sailing magazine, for 40 years. He died in 1979.

To see more of the trip, check out this short (2 minutes, 30 seconds) video on my YouTube channel: youtu.be/as5igLY8FSk Enjoy!

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Arizona Trippin

This trip is one of my faves in recent years, full of regional history, local color and great eats. The hiking was excellent; the scrambles were fun. The red-rock trails and buttes near Sedona are magnificent. These and other images from my trip to Arizona, the last before the COVID pandemic shut things down, have been woven together in a short presentation now up on my YouTube page. Check it out at https://bit.ly/3sJimXx

Having developed an interest in cliff-dwellings and cliff-dwelling cultures on prior trips to New Mexico, my partner Susan and I took advantage of opportunities to visit ancient tribal dwellings/pueblos: Tuzigoot National Monument (nps.gov/tuzi) near Clarkdale and Montezuma Castle National Monument near Camp Verde (nps.gov/moca). Both are managed by the National Park Service and have fascinating histories.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time at Montezuma. It was a bit of a drive after touring Tuzigoot and the rangers let us know, upon arrival, that the park would soon close. Our visit was short, but it provided views of an awesome cliff structure, compelling enough to warrant going back once I’m willing to fly again. I’m looking forward to that – and others. –HM

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Flying High

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Once endangered and teetering on the brink of extinction, the Bald Eagle is doing well; actually, very well, according to a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report that says those eagle populations have quadrupled since 2009. Scientists in the agency’s Migratory Bird Program estimate the population has climbed to 316,700 eagles in the lower 48 states. They know of 71,000 nesting pairs, a huge jump from 1963 when only 417 nesting pairs were known of, an all-time low.

Their return has been attributed to ongoing conservation and protection efforts along with banning the then popular pesticide DDT, which weakened eggshells and hindered reproduction. The current tally, detailed in a 2020 survey report  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Final Report: Bald Eagle Population Size: 2020 Update can be found online.

The survey work that led to the report was conducted over 2018 and 2019, using flyovers and ground observations in cooperation with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the citizen science data that is collected on the popular online birdwatching database called eBird, found at https://ebird.org/home.

“The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the most well-known conservation success stories of all time,” FWS Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams recently told the press. “The Service continues to work with our partners in state and federal agencies, tribes, non-government organizations and with private landowners to ensure that our nation’s symbol continues to flourish.”

Breeding eagles lay one to three eggs each year. They hatch about 35 days out and are flying within three months. In 1782 when America adopted the Bald Eagle as national symbol, the country “may have had as many as 100,000 nesting eagles,” FWS reports. Loss of habitat, shooting and DDT poisoning all contributed to their decline. Some also die from ingesting lead shotgun pellets.

Bald Eagles today are a joy to behold in both wild and rural settings. Their presence draws attention and praise whenever they are seen. –HM

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A new beginning

Photo by Howard Meyerson

We had wandered through thickly forested dunes for more than an hour when we emerged on the barrens. The contrast was stark. Only scrubby vegetation lay in all directions. These lone trees caught my eye as we hiked into the barrens bowl and up another sand dune back to the trail near Grand Haven, MI.

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Spring Thaw

Photography by Howard Meyerson

I spent a few days on the trail last week, enjoying the warm up and to record the thaw. These are just some of the images I put together in a brief homage to the beauty of forest trails during spring thaw. Check it out on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvUlbmebZV8 Enjoy! –HM

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Lighthouse restoration, public comments sought

Historic Point Iroquois Lighthouse on Lake Superior. Photo by Howard Meyerson

The Point Iroquois Lighthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. It overlooks Lake Superior at the entry of the St. Mary’s River, according to Hiawatha National Forest officials who just announced plans for a multi-year historic preservation effort on the lighthouse. It was constructed in 1855 to help guide vessels toward what is today the Soo Locks.

A wood tower and living quarters were initially constructed, followed by a light two years later. As demand for area resources and water traffic grew, so did the lighthouse. In 1870, the wooden structures were replaced with the 65-foot brick tower and attached living quarters. The lighthouse helped passing ships navigate the waters of Lake Superior for 107 years until the torch was passed to an automatic light off Gros Cap, Ontario, Canada.

Forest staffers are seeking public feedback and comments on the anticipated preservation work being conducted through agreements with its partners, HistoriCorps and YouthWork. The public will have an opportunity to participate as volunteers in historic preservation efforts on lands managed by the Hiawatha National Forest. To apply, visit the HistoriCorps’ website.

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Drilling for oil, the test of time

We hear a lot about moving away from fossil fuels, away from our dependence on oil to make so much of what we use, from gasoline to golf balls and ballpoint pens. And though we get steadily closer to that future; innovators continually move us forward, finding new methods, materials and technologies for providing the goods we want, our need for oil will continue for some time.

While cycling on a shaded route through a Grand Rapids park last summer, I noticed these old private wells and rigs. They stood hidden in the shadows of the forest like relics from another time, some abandoned, most emblazoned with graffiti. I promised myself I would come back and take a closer look. A few weeks ago I did just that.

Here’s a short but colorful winter look. Oil wells are an unusual photo/video subject for me, but the character, color and settings of these private wells caught my attention. Perhaps they will capture yours.

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I’m ready

Joshua Tree National Park, California. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Winter is in full swing here in Michigan. We got pummeled yesterday and the outcome is beautiful. We finally have good X-C skiable snow in southwest Michigan. But, as much as I enjoy traipsing around on snowy trails wearing trail crampons, or heading into the woods on skis or snowshoes, this scene from Joshua Tree National Park hit a nerve this morning. I find myself longing for warm, wide-open spaces.

I’m ready.

To all of you who inhabit cold or warm places, enjoy your weekend outdoors. –HM

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
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Southern Lake Michigan state park expanded.

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR

Everyone loves beautiful sand beaches, and the mile-long stretch at Van Buren State Park, with its high dunes, trails, campground and day-use area, just got longer.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources recently announced that Van Buren County officials approved leasing its 17-acre Northpoint Conservation Area to the state agency for 25-years. The parcel borders the 400-acre state park on its north end adding 340 feet of beach along Lake Michigan. It will now be managed by MDNR.

The North Point Conservation Area has been a popular birdwatching spot and hiking destination. Its high, forested dune trails lead hikers to great views of the lake. The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has a conservation easement for the property to protect it from development.

Locally known as “The Old Boy Scout Camp,” it was maintained for generations by southwest Michigan Boy Scouts who planted trees and maintained the trails, among other things. New signage is planned along with revised hours for use.

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Quiet Adventure Symposium goes virtual

WCHA members collect and enjoy antique wooden canoes. Photo by Howard Meyerson

The lore and beauty of wooden canoes and the people that love them, the members of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association (woodencanoe.org), a national non-profit dedicated to preserving wood canoe heritage, are among the 40 or so online Zoom presentations planned for the 2021 Quiet Adventure Symposium in February.

The presentations planned cover great trips, paddle routes and hikes, personal adventures, on the water safety, programing for kids and many other outdoor adventure topics.

This year’s 26th annual event, formerly known at the Quiet Water Symposium, will be held online over five nights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each evening offers two parallel sessions with new speakers every 30-minutes. The first presentations begin at 7:00pm and the final two speakers begin at 9:00pm.

The 2021 event starts on Tuesday, February 16 and will continue on Thursday,
February 18. Presentations will come to you the following week on February 23
and 25. Saturday, February 27 at 7:00pm brings the Grand Finale, concluding
with a concert by Jerry Vandiver. The tentative agenda can be found on the symposium website: https://quietwatersociety.org/

Have a conflict one night during the virtual event or not sure which great
presentation to watch? Do not worry, registered attendees will receive links to
view the presentations once the event is over. The cost to register is $10.00. Direct any questions to Tammi Connell at EventManager@quietwatersociety.org.

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