For our first hike together in a few months, Ekaterina and I went to Ortonville. We've been there before but not in years. This time she brought two German Shepherds that she's training to keep us company. I had plans for us to go to two, or maybe three trailheads so we could get a decently long walk in.
Off to the side of the trail before we started on the first section, I looked down to see that the leaves were covered in tiny, tiny, jumping bugs! Very interesting sight (a video is posted below!). There were so many that it sounded like rain hitting the ground. Looking it up later, they are called snow fleas; but they aren't actually a type of flea, they eat decomposing plant matter and don't bite.
The first bit of trail was just two or three miles; we did enjoy seeing the early flowers, including maybe a crabapple? The skunk cabbage is fully unfurled now, and the bright green is a nice contrast to the still fall-like forest.
On the way to the second trailhead, Ekaterina called me and said she was low on gas. I looked at my own gauge, and sure enough so was I! After a group fill-up at the gas station, we went back to the park. Ortonville is an impressively hilly area, and Pinnacle Point at 1,090 feet is one of the highest points in the county (Lapeer).
The land was previously owned by a business man who built several structures on it, including a lookout on top of the point. I found an old photo from the forties online (below). It's amazing to me that the area was cleared of trees not that long ago. From what I read, after the state acquired the land, the buildings burned down. The stone foundations are still there, including part of a basement and some wall sections. We took a break at the peak and I took some pictures; Ekaterina couldn't tell when I was taking them vs setting up the camera, so there are some great action shots of her eating a banana.
We didn't worry much about not getting lost, so we took a few extra turns and looked around at side trails. Although it was a weekend, there tend to not be too many people on longer trails, so that was much appreciated. We did notice some stacked piles of clay with a hole on top; I remembered seeing them as a kid but wasn't sure what they were. Lifting them up didn't provide any clues; but we later learned they are from crayfish. They dig down to get to water, and build up a little chimney for access.
Two trailheads turned out to be enough, so we will save the third location for next time. As we were leaving, I found an emerald green bug on my sweatshirt. They're a type of solitary bee that lives alone and is attracted to sweat. It made a good choice to land on me!
Funny enough, I spent the last few months delivering mail on foot, walking about 32,000 steps on an average day. Today's twelve mile hike was about 30,000. I can say Ortonville is much more scenic... and much hillier!
If you'd like to join me for some hiking, check out the upcoming backpacking trips here.