This is part two of my very looooong walk taken at Lake Erie Metropark on June 18th. Part one was last Monday’s post.
I figured I was on a roll that day … you will recall that just about the time I was ready to head to the car and drive to the other side of this very large park, I encountered the Sandhill Cranes, then, still on a high from that meet-up, I saw the trio of does. Well, what else would I see today?
Buoyed by my early morning good fortune, I decided to try a trail I’ve snubbed since I began walking at this park in 2018. I didn’t turn my nose up at the trail because it was only a mere mile long from start to finish. In fact, I’ve started on that trail several times, but turned back, as all too soon the woodland area was thick, raggedy-looking, with grass instead of a mulched or pea-gravel path and it was buggy. Because Michigan has had tick infestation and mosquito-borne illness issues the last three or four years, why tempt fate?
But this time I ventured forth because, like many of you, here in SE Michigan we were in moderate drought, having not had rain for weeks. I was wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, so I was game to give it a try – just this once.
The Metroparks have lots of signage, not only for the length of the trail, but also what conditions you will encounter. The “you are here” sign that greeted me as I began my trek is pictured above.
I was in the shade when I took the photo of the trail signage, so I’ll transcribe the conditions of this trail below:
“Trapper’s Run Trail is the main trail leading from the museum. This loop explores a dense hawthorn thicket and man-made features of the lowland landscape. A series of five overlooks provide an opportunity to peek into the surrounding marshlands. Take your time as you walk the old trapper’s route between the lagoons. This trail is mostly flat with eight shallow transitions between boardwalk and gravel trail.”
There was a map showing the location of the five overlooks, the first which is by the boat shed near Luc’s enclosure. I took a photo of the map so I could I.D. the overlooks later if necessary.
I set out with no reservations … after all, the wooded area did not appear to be all that dense and lagoons and outlooks meant open areas. “You worry unnecessarily Linda” I told myself.
BUT, within minutes of starting on Trapper’s Run, I was inside a dense wooded area … my radar went up. I knew I would not lose my way on a one-mile route which had markers, but it seemed pretty desolate to me. Having endured the fiasco of getting lost on a hot August day for many hours in the middle of Crosswinds Marsh Wetland Interpretive Preserve back in 2020, I was not about to get embedded on some secluded trail.
Hmm – it seemed as quickly as I found myself in a dense part of the trail, with little or no view of the sky, I rounded the bend to find another wooden outlook. As mentioned above, there were five outlooks in total and, though I climbed onto each one and took photos, essentially the views were similar of the marsh and lagoon. I scrapped most of those photos once I saw them on the screen as they all looked about the same, but here are a few views.
At times, the trail became open, sunlight streaming overhead, with a grassy pathway and the occasional park bench with overgrown weeds alongside it.
Then, once again, the trail disappeared into a dense forest area. I recognized the call of a Nuthatch and searched for it. It was creeping down the tree headfirst as a White-Breasted Nuthatch usually does.
I also saw a Goldfinch, though the lighting was not stellar here.
In the heart of this trek, near the Hawthorn thicket area, I found some interesting-looking fungi.
It was a little desolate so I picked up the pace. Suddenly I saw a petite blonde woman with an extremely long camera lens pointed toward a bird high up in a tree.
I was glad to see her and told her so. We exchanged names. Danielle had a Southern accent and told me she had moved up here to Michigan recently and, in a soft voice said “no worries – I walk Trapper’s Run nearly every day – it is safe.” I said “good – I am always very wary of my surroundings.” (Postscript – it is not my overactive imagination or that I am a worrywart – a few days later, in another county, a woman walking alone on a trail in a wooded area encountered a man who exposed himself. When she screamed and attempted to run away, he blocked her path. This was not the first time this man has done this in other parks, but I digress.)
I similarly gazed up at the tree, and asked “what are you watching up there?” She responded “a Baltimore Oriole that keeps turning its back to me.” I quipped “I thought that just happened to me.” I got a giggle for that comment and we stood there companionably, cameras trained on this beautiful orange and black bird. In the dim light, I strained my eyes to not only see the bird, but photograph it. It was not on my Birdie Bucket List, but was a welcome first sighting for me. These photos don’t do it justice.
We both decided to move along and I was delighted she was going the same direction as me.
Danielle said her favorite part of the trail was the Riley Creek Overlook and it was ahead. We veered off the trail to the right to check it out. I was impressed the Trapper’s Run trail managed to pack a lot of attractions into a one-mile hike. As we got closer I saw the overlook jutting out over the water, essentially a pier with no railings at all. By now there was a good breeze blowing and it was welcome as I’d been walking for many hours by that time. I never wear a watch on the weekend, as I am a slave to the time for my weekday jaunts, but I knew it had to be near noon.
Danielle and I walked together onto the pier – what a great view and no other humans, just an egret and a heron.
We spooked the heron and she pointed “look at it heading up to the tree!”
A few minutes later, the egret followed suit to join its pal in the tree.
But, best buds or not, the egret was bored and flew back down a short time later …
… then circled around Riley Creek Overlook a few times …
… finally skidding to a stop on the top of the water. Pretty fancy footwork, huh?
The egret seemed skittish and took off again. I wished it was closer as most of these shots were far away.
The egret and heron had their own agenda and it didn’t include us, so we decided to finish up the walk. Danielle had an appointment and I had a long walk back to my car on the other side of the park and it was now very warm.
I (finally) made it back to the car and driving out of Lake Erie Metropark, a huge shadow crossed over my car – it was one of the nesting pair of Ospreys who live at the nearby fire station. That’s fodder for another post as this one is already long and picture laden.