#362

Little Adventures At Nordhouse Dunes

Thursday, February 25th 2021, 9:19:34 pm

I parked at a little wooded rest area,
I was already nearing Ludington I didn't need to stop.
But I had some tasty crackers with me,
and I wasn't actually in any hurry to get anywhere at all.
This was early morning,
and it is not possible to describe that early morning fragrance.
It was the middle of summer,
and everything was blooming, everything was alive.
Mornings were especially thick with the scent of pine trees,
and endless, endless deep and dark woods.
I put the key in the ignition, and my power inverter cheerfully tweeted at me,
followed by the GPS babbling something about a turn.
Highway 31 ended, and in a split second decision, if you can call it that,
I turned right on US 10, I was going to skip Ludington and head straight for Nordhouse.
I usually take North Stiles Road, until it ends at West Townline Rd
and then I turn left onto North Quaterline Rd.
Here when I am headed straight for the wilderness,
I turn left on West Nurnberg Rd which leads to a neat parking area.
This time I drive a little but further and did a left turn on West Forest Trail Rd,
this leads to a day camp area if you keep going forward where the road changes name to Porter Creek.
But I took the well manicured left turn keeping on West Forest Trail Rd,
and took it all the way until the end passing hundreds of happy campers and fancy sites.
I parked at the loop where the road ended, paid a few dollars for few days of parking my car,
and set off for the Nordhouse Wildernes.
I made it up the first hill, and sat down for a moment, a lovely couple walked by with a big dog,
that was proudly trotting with a very funny little-backpack on.
I thought to myself, I'd be happy too if I was carrying my snacks with me,
alas, I ate mine at the rest area, which now seemed like a terrible mistake.
I waited a moment to let the couple go on ahead of me,
so that they could have the wilderness to themselves.
Slowly put my backpack on, which was heavy, with all the water,
and went on my way.
I was kind of half-heatedly looking for a nice site looking down from the top of the ancient dune,
you know I got to tell you, there was this unusual cool breeze which in the warm air felt like a miracle.
The smell was even more beautiful, I think if I tried to describe it,
I would end up crying, it is the fragrance of Happy and Healthy Nature.
I thought to my self if visitors from outer-space find this planet,
many will just end up going hiking to all the world's destinations to just sniff the woods.
I switched my Audio Book from Seth Shostack's "Search for Intelligent Life in Space" lectures,
to Bill Bryon's A Walk In The Woods.
It was only later that I found out that bears were re-introduced to Nordhouse,
now that I think about it, it was probably on top of a bunch of bears quietly living there already.
It took a few moments to actually get to the sign that indicates that,
this is the Nordhouse Wilderness Area,
Few moments later the sites started popping up,
you can see patches of well worn exposed dirt where hikers or hunters camp, they are all very nice.
Mine ended up being the second or third, it was small and beautiful,
but to get there I had to descend down the ancient dune, not exactly an easy task with a heavy backpack on.
I set up my tent, and took to gathering up firewood for the evening,
especially the chunky fallen logs which people usually can't carry as they can't chop them in pieces.
I bring a sharp saw, really sharp,
and the dry fallen logs are much easier to cut and carry.
This time people dragged a huge fallen tree into the site,
they were using it for sitting, so I used that for fire, and to clean up the site so that there is nothing left but dirt.
Not sure what time it was but the sun was still up high,
so I set off for a long walk down the beach.
The dunes are very beautiful studded with big old trees,
every-time you look you discover something different, a break in the tree line, or a sandy area where the dune parted for some reason,
Or in this case an exceptionally tall stretch of dune,
way taller than even I expected.
When I got back from my sunny walk,
I decided to walk the same distance, but now on the Arrowhead Trail in the woods.
I almost felt guilty about the beauty that was surrounding me,
and then I made an amazing discovery.
There was a fork in the trail that I have never noticed before,
and the right path lead to a less worn trail that led up that gigantic dune I saw earlier.
Just as I was getting comfortable with being speechless about all the beauty around me,
things became even more beautiful.
To get to the top of the high dune you had to climb the cutest little trail,
that dune could be one of the most beautiful features of Nordhouse.
And looking towards Lake Michigan you kind of see the lake in a new light as well,
it looks, well, more beautiful from that height as you get to see more waves, and what seems like a more distant horizon.
When I finally made it to the highest spot,
I checked for ants and bears, and sat down on a log, speechless.
When I finally took it all in, I had a drink of water,
and of all the things, my phone beeped that it had a signal.
Happy with my discoveries, I begun my descent and just kept slowly walking back,
I was going through a phase where I was re-listening to "Electric Universe, The Shocking True Story Of Electricity." over and over.
When I got to my camp, I just kept walking forward, as if it was a strangers tent down there,
and I made it back to my car.
The amazing fact about the West Forest Trail Rd is that it's other end,
is a gas station by a continuation of US 31, this is a whole new stretch.
The US 31 is connected by about four and a half miles of US 10,
it is very strange, I just see them as two endings.
You don't need much when you live in the wilderness,
some crackers, a bit of ice cream, and a sausage.
I paid for my snacks and cheerfully described to the employees my journey thus far,
I had to hurry back it is a 10 mile drive but it is beautiful.
When I made it back to camp, I hung up my food in the tree,
even though in my experience there aren't any raccoons down there, and went down to m beach.
I circled around waiting for the sunset, probably found a fossil or two,
and finally sat down to watch the sun put on a show.
It got a little bit cooler almost instantly,
I took to lighting the fire and roasting my sausage on one of the twigs I found earlier.
By the time all the stars came out I was already in my sleeping bag,
watching them through the netting, as I fell asleep to the Electric Universe.

#362: Little Adventures At Nordhouse Dunes

Thursday, February 25th 2021, 9:19:34 pm