MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600, 700, Prē, HTC Evo, Samsung 5, Pixel 3, Pixel 6 Pro. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Walk Ride In The Woods - 2019 Edition

Eighteen years after the last harvest in 2001 and two years after our most recent walkabout, last year we surveyed and marked the family commercial forest in Baraga for a selective cut. Ken, the forester who worked with us on the last cut and authored our Forest Plan retired. We hired a new forester - Justin -  to work with the family on this go-round (with Ken's recommendation and counsel).  The property was surveyed for a selective cut, put out to bid last year, and a logger selected. Logging operations have yet to commence, so it was a good opportunity to have Justin give us a guided tour of property and, in particular, educate us on the process and decisions made about the trees selected for harvest.

Emily and Ko'Wayne joined me for the excursion. They brought their ATV and Justin brought his so we could cover a lot of ground in our limited time on the property.

We met at a "Park and Ride" across from the Michigamme Market, towed the ATV's until we could drive no further, then then unloaded, mounted and rode the 4-wheelers into the woods.

For the first time in the family history, we approached the property through neighboring forest land on the West property line as opposed the usual route over neighboring forest land along the East property line.
The beaver pond from the other side. Watched a big buck scamper along the tree line.
The significance is that this is the route that the loggers will take, and since some road work will be needed for heavy trucks and equipment access, it's possible that we will be able to drive all the way in once logging operations commence. Certainly easier than hiking over the top of a beaver dam.

Justin provided a Master Class in tree selection and markings, the property lines, logging issues, stumpage from prior cuts and expectations for the next cut. We got the right guy for this job.

Weather was a pleasant surprise for this time of year. Comfortably in the upper seventies, and the bugs were not too bad - although we had one casualty. While avoiding a fallen tree, Ko'Wayne drove over a hornets nest and a hornet stung Justin as we followed him around the stump. There is no Instant Karma in the North Woods.

Having done a few of these tours over some decades, the most gratifying aspect for me is seeing and hearing a forester's reactions as we tour the property that has been in the family for generations. Like Ken and other foresters before him, Justin expressed his admiration and appreciation for the health of the managed forest and the stewardship of the family in maintaining and managing the land.

Some more pics from the day...

Ko'Wayne sets up his new trail cam and salt lick.
The trail cam has photographed moose, deer, and bear.
We didn't see any moose on the "Alces Trail" this time, but did see plenty of moose shit. 
We again found the ruins of an old camp that predates the family purchase...
... which we believe was primarily used for maple syrup production.
As has become a tradition for me after one of these excursions, Emily, Ko'Wayne and I wrapped up the adventure with a cudighi at a local watering hole on the way back.

Cudighi and Two Heart Ale on tap at Jerzi's 41
It was a great day and great experience. We all learned something, including how not to back up a trailer with a loaded ATV. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Summertime Shag Lake Sojourn

Lilies of the Lake

I generally make two trips a year to Chicago and Big Shag Lake - a spring opening and fall closing. This year Roy & Roxanne's wedding on August 17 meant moving the fall trip up into a an a summer sojourn.

Holding our nose as we drive through Green Bay
Flew into Chicago late on Thursday the 8th (really early Friday the 9th), got some sleep, packed and hit the road with Dad and Bowser. Cousins Ken and Donna followed us up a few hours later. Unfortunately their boys could not make it this trip.

This is Ken and Donna's third trip to Camp Shag, and we had a breakthrough - they made it all the way to the Lake House on a night approach without a last mile escort. They were only here for the weekend so, as per usual, were intent on cramming as much in as possible, including:

Hiking Sugarloaf Mountain...


... including a notable accomplishment...


... and a Fish Fry...

Ken and Donna packed a lot into 48 hours, but we'll let them speak for themselves...

"We became 3-timers to Shag Lake and the third time is a charm. Donna caught a Perch, a Pike, many Bluegills and a Bass. Sid joined us for a massive bonfire. Mike made the very best garlic and onion infused burgers this side of the Toledo War. The weather was perfect as the Noah flood lake waters receded. Thanks for a fantastic time and good luck to the next Shag guests - the Honeymooners Roy and Roxanne! - Donna & Ken 

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Undiscovered Country

My grandparents bought the Shag Lake property in 1956. I was 3 years old. I have been to the lake almost every year since, often multiple times per year. Which all goes to say there is not much to surprise me (outside of weather and water levels) about Shag Lake.  But I was surprised by a close look at a google satellite map:

The map revealed a water feature at Shag Lake I wasn't aware of before. It looks like a good sized open water pond in the middle of a clearing, with no homes, roads or paths to get to it.  I was familiar with the closest point of the main lake to this pond. A shallow inlet, protected by fallen timber, favored by turtles, frogs and small fish. The question: With this record high water level, would it be possible to take a canoe or kayak into the pond?

 It was our last day at Shag before Dad and I would drive back to Chicago. There was no rush to get home, so Robyn, Jeff, Dad and I mounted an early expedition to see if we could find a passage to the pond. This meant tying the canoe to the pontoon boat, towing it over to the inlet, anchoring on a fallen log, and canoeing in search of access.

On our way to the inlet

Robyn and Dad held down the fort on the pontoon boat while Jeff and I proceeded into the Shag Lake heart of darkness.

 So, long story short, we couldn't find a water route to the pond. We did make our way into someone's drowned backyard, where I set off overland. More accurately, sloshing over swamp in my waders to find the secret pond.

And find it we did.

A lot of sarracenia purpurea here
This natural feature is a "Northern Tamarack Swamp" or "Poor Conifer Swamp" or a transitional environment that encompasses aspects of both. You can learn more than you ever want to know about either at the above links:
"Poor conifer swamps are characterized by a canopy of coniferous trees, low ericaceous, evergreen shrubs, a poor herbaceous layer, and a hummocky carpet of sphagnum moss. The canopy is often dominated by black spruce. Tamarack (Larix laricina) is also a frequent canopy dominant or codominant. Canopy associates include balsam fir (Abies balsamea), white pine (Pinus strobus), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and American mountain ash (Sorbus americana). The shrub layer is dominated by low, ericaceous shrubs, with Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) being the most prevalent. Additional heath shrubs include bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula), wintergreen (G. procumbens), huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), sheep-laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), bog laurel (K. polifolia), low sweet blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Canada blueberry (V. myrtilloides), and small cranberry (V. oxycoccos). The tall shrub layer is less dense than the low shrub layer and is often restricted to the periphery of the swamp or adjacent to streams that may meander through the peatland."
You're welcome.