An Excellent Plan B

My long run….

My weekend did not work out as planned. I wanted to go to a bonfire Saturday night, so I did my long run Saturday morning. I was exhausted, as usual, but I took a long nap to get ready for a late night out.

About 5 PM I got an email with last-minute reminders about my trail run in Grayling Sunday morning. What???? I totally forgot I signed up for a 10K trail run this weekend. I mean, I thought I had but I could never find the info that I did. So, I assumed I had changed my mind. Since Grayling is a haul, I’d have to get up early. The bonfire would have to wait until another time.

I packed all my stuff for the race, asked my dogsitter to come check on Ashok and went to bed early. I mapped the address, and then I took pause. Instead of 2 1/2 hours to the trailhead, it was 3 1/2 hours. Ugh…. 7 hours driving was a bit much for a 10K. My original thought had been to spend the weekend, but since I forgot about the race that hadn’t happened. As excited as I was about it, the thought of driving that far in one day took the wind out of my sails.

I turned off the alarm clock and slept in. Since my bags were packed, I decided to explore some trails in the area. A few months ago, Wanderlust Outfitters had a class on areas to hike nearby. A man from the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy introduced us to several nature preserves they manage. The hikes weren’t long, but they offered a diverse nature experience within a 40-minute drive.

Wolf Tree Nature Trails….

Ashok and I first visited the Wolf Tree Nature Trails near Mattawan. This lovely little preserve featured a fabulous field of wildflowers that meandered into the deep woods. Signs designated a 5K training course. I thought that was a pretty cool way to get in shape for a 5k. Running in that beautiful place would surely get me hooked on trail running.

I shirked my sugar-free diet for a piece of blueberry cream pie!

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After the short walk, I plugged the Black River Preserve into the GPS and started driving toward South Haven. Blueberry farms dotted the highway, and I stopped in a few spots for treats. Since I’ll be backpacking next weekend, I didn’t buy a big box of blueberries, but at least I know where to go now. I love blueberry season. I eat them constantly until mid-to-late August.

Unusual mushrooms, quiet paths and a sweet little river… but bring your DEET!

The Black River Preserve had longer trails, and we started toward the river. About 50 feet in, I turned around to get my DEET. The bugs were everywhere. We hiked back to the river and through the woods. I followed several of the loops in hopes of finding the “Quiet Spot Bridge” and the old campground. I found the bridge but I never did see the old campground. I loved this little area. Ashok and I even saw a little spotted fawn hip-hopping through the forest.

When I was in Michigan before, I ran the same trails in all seasons. I loved to watch the woods change and evolve throughout the year. This little area was so pretty I decided on the spot this will be my all-season trail. I imagined what the little river would look like shrouded in ice and wondered how the snow might settle in the forest. It’s great to travel to fabulous natural landmarks, but it’s really special to have something in your backyard that becomes your own little paradise.

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When I got back to the car, I opened the door to get a snack. I heard a voice say, “Is that you, Sharon?” I recognized my neighbor Bobbie immediately. I had been thinking about her while I was hiking. She is retired and roams the woods and trails in Michigan like I do. I’m not sure why we don’t get together except we are both pretty independent. She’s participating in the Hike Our Preserves (HOP) program. She gets these lovely little coins for each of the SMLC preserves she hikes. She strung them in this neat little necklace. I love this, and what a great motivation to get out and hike!

So the weekend did not turn out as planned, but it sure turned out nice. Now, I’m looking forward to my Pictured Rocks trip this weekend. This is truly a bucket list trip for me. I’ve wanted to backpack it long before I ever laid eyes on Pictured Rocks. Look forward to some pictures that’ll knock your hiking socks off!

Have a great week, y’all and #getoffyourass!

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Pictured Rocks!!! Here I come!

 

 

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