Wanna help me hike?

Sunday, March 24, 2013


After being nominated by my housemate and Re-supply Coordinator, Martha Rogers, I am very proud to have been selected as a finalist for the Governor's Fitness Award under the category for Veteran of the Year. I've been invited to a legislative reception at the State Capitol in Lansing on April 25th. Later that same day, the winners will be announced at a gala reception at Ford Field in Detroit. I was even filmed and interviewed by Lila Lazerus and her crew. I've been watching her on TV for years and her she was in my living room!

This year, they added a category for the 'People's Choice'. You can watch videos of all the finalists here. Check them out and vote for your favorite. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Michigan Trails

Spent the past four days hiking the West Bloomfield Trail, the Clinton River Trail, the Paint Creek Trail and the Polly Ann Trail. Went from Wolverine Lake up to Imlay City. I was thrilled to hike with my dear friend Suzanne Hollyer for the first 25 miles.

We met her husband at the Rochester Mills Brewery where I was treated to a fantastic dinner and some delicious Michigan craft beers. They went home, I continued on.

I met some really cool people along the way. Hiking into Leonard, MI, I needed three things: water, a way to charge my cell phone and a hot cup of coffee. I found those things and more at the Marathon gas station. The people there were really hiker-friendly including Kimberly:

If you're hiking the Polly Ann Trail anywhere near Leonard, stop in and see Kim. Enjoy a good cup of coffee and some pleasant conversation. I hope that trails like the Polly Ann become more popular and that little towns like Leonard benefit from it.

Yes, it was cold. But it was also beautiful. At one point, the woods became very still and the sky was such that everything became a stark black and white. It was like hiking through an Ansel Adams photograph. I could actually feel the pressure drop and I knew it was time to find a spot to camp. I set up my tent and ducked inside just in time for a freezing rain to start pouring down. Could it be that finally, after all these miles, I'm getting good at predicting the weather?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Polly Ann Trail

About 30 miles of the trail I want to hike follows the Polly Ann Trail in Oakland and Lapeer Counties.  The good folks of the Polly Ann Trail Management Council and the Trail Manager, Juliane Bagley have been very supportive of my endeavor to hike the Governor's proposed trail. I intend to finish my hike and be back in time for the Rural Pearl Trail Tour on July 20th, 2013.  I look forward to (hopefully) celebrating my accomplishment and enjoying the day.

If you haven't been on it before, the Polly Ann Trail is a sweet piece. Meet me in Oxford on April 27th to wish me luck on my hike!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Kal-Haven Trail

Just got back from a week of hiking in the woods of western Michigan. As much as I love doing it, this kind of hiking is not for the meek or faint-of-heart: it's cold out there. Real cold. So cold that whatever was not in your sleeping bag with you the night before is now frozen solid. Water? Toothpaste? Tent poles? All frozen solid.
But it's worth it. Western Michigan has its own special kind of beauty this time of year. The water in the rivers and creeks looks thick and black. The skies are dramatic. The crows are pissed off that a huge red-tailed hawk is in their territory.
The people on this trail are few and far between. Lots of snowmobile riders. A few cross-country skiers. Some very kind store owners like this guy:
Eighty seven year-old Walter Garrett. Runs the Kendall Store in tiny Kendall, Michigan. All he wanted was to share a cup of coffee and to hear my stories. When I told him about some of my hikes, he said that he admired me. I was deeply flattered that someone from the 'greatest generation' would say that. Another kind soul was the guy who runs Pyle's Porthole in South Haven, Michigan.
This is the kind of place where locals gather to hear the latest hunting and fishing news. They like to get a look at a guy who would hike more than a hundred miles in the dead of winter and ask him a few questions.

If anyone reading this wants to do this hike with me, I'd do it again in a second. This is the third time I've hiked this trail and I know all the best places to camp. We can leave from downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan and take the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail west out of town to the 10th Street trail head of the Kal-Haven Trail. We can hike 33.5 miles west to South Haven, Michigan and then go south through town to pick up the 14 mile Van Buren Trail. Yo-yo that and head back to KZoo. Takes about a week of 13 to 15 mile days. Better be ready to put your head down and stomp through blowing snow. Check it out:
Ideally, you end up back in KZoo and you celebrate your accomplishment at Larry Bell's Eccentric Cafe with a craft-brewed beer and a burger.

As always, huge thanks to Camp Champaign founding members Martha Rogers and Sandy Lowe for making crazy adventures like this possible. Love!