If you hike, bike, canoe, rock climb, do anything else awesome or you would like to and you live in or around South Bend, this is the place for you! This is the blog of the South Bend Adventure Club. Join our facebook group to see our upcoming events and come to one. Or post something of your own to find fellow interested adventurers (see here for help on that). There are no dues or fees, we just want to get outside and have fun. This blog serves as both an archive of our adventures (just below this intro), and a resource of information on local places . If you’ve been on one of our trips and have stories to share, let me know and I can give you blog access.If you are not a facebook user, you can see what we’re up to by clicking here.
Before getting to the meat and potatoes of the story, some background is in order. In my pre-teen years, home life was troubled at times. To escape this, around 1978, my mom brought us to my Grandmothers house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We also visited my grandparents summer cottage in Hinsdale, Massachusetts. It was during this […]
Our group of 11 Adventure club members set off on the Hardwood trail of Bendix Woods County Park. Probably most known for its “STUDEBAKER” word etched with live trees and its Maple Syrup festival in early spring. What this St. Joseph County Park also hosts are beautiful short-lived wild flowers. We set out at 4pm, when the sun just started to give off triangle rays hitting hardwood trees that were just beginning to sprout. It allowed us to note the contrast between the green understory that hosted many wildflowers including hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, and the most beloved of all, trillium. Our, truly, ~1.5 mile stroll through the woods allowed plenty of time for many-a-photo snaps, tree climbs (by the 3 boys in the group), and good conversation. I heard lots of comments about the perfect weather, the relaxation, and the stress release that seemed to float into the over-story. We ended our journey at a finale of trillium, which someone termed “trillium hill.”
My guess is that these short-lived beauties will only be around for another few weeks (if that). I understand now the Japanese sacredness of the Japanese cherry blossoms. In that country, the short-lived cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life.
This past weekend was an active weeked for the the South Bend Adventure Club. One group went to Chicago for a Triple Header Adventure which involved Rock Climbing at Vertical Endeavors, following by Go Cart racing at K1 Speed and finally Gaming and Food at Dave and Busters. Some pictures from the event:
We had another group who enjoyed a sunny, relaxed wintry cross country skiing trip in the woods at Love Creek Nature Center in Berrien Center, Michigan. The spring conditions could not have been better that allowed for smooth gliding and views of snow-kissed trees with a clear blue sky backdrop. Afterwards they warmed up at one of the member’s houses with homemade Turkish Lamb Stew.
On Sunday, I took my son on a trip to Warren Dunes which seems to be a popular stop these past few weeks. As opposed to Saturday, Sunday brought a sunny 60 degree day with melting snow.
I also wanted to mention the previous weekends “Take Your Dog Hiking” at St. Patrick’s Park in South Bend, Indiana. This was the second such Dog Hike and both were a huge success!
Thank you to everyone who has been leading these adventures lately and thanks to those who attended making these events a success!
This is a tail of a trip that gave us lemons. The organizer could not make it to the start of the event, so we took lemons and made lemonade! Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad but without our fearless leader, we wandered around aimlessly! (All who wander are not lost!) In all seriousness, we actually had a great time.
We started up a trail that seemingly went into the woods and that’s where the trail ended! But from our vantage point, we found what was to be trail 1. We followed Trail 1 into the woods. The trail started off with a quick elevation rise which got our heart pumping and warmed us up in the 20 degree morning temperatures. During this portion of the hike, we found the strangest one person bench seat that was near a creek on an eroding hill.
From Trail 1, we hit trail 3. We spied a pretty decent dune to climb but it would have had us going back to the parking area. We figured if we couldn’t find any good and challenging dunes, we would stop back to hit this one. Towards the end of trail 3, we found what appeared to be a triangular foundation and couldn’t make heads or tails of what it might have been but there appeared to be a hole in the ground that inside had a brick foundation in it..? A Basement? No one ventured down but we figured maybe at one time it was a shelter of sorts.
From Trail 3, we hit trail 4 and I believe trail 8, it was a bit sketchy because we were overwhelmed by the view of a spectacular dune near trail 14. We were in awe of the challenge it would be, every picture we took did it no justice but we needed proof of our challenge. I took a GPS Coordinate which showed our original elevation was about 578 feet. JohnR and I headed up the dune while SharonK took some pictures of us heading up.
It was a struggle, John made it up first and he wasn’t so sure I was going to make it as a had 20 pounds in by backpack (Training for an Appalachian Trail hike) and Sharon who was nice enough to take pictures was not too far behind me. The cold weather actually helped us a bit because the sand was not as loose as it was during the summer but we still practically took one step back for every step we went forward! When I got to the top, my GPS read about 790 feet. Almost 200 feet of an incline in what I estimate about 100 yards! Take a look at that last picture, we had some great views! (See also pictures below)
After taking in the beauty, we didn’t take the steep climb down, we meandered through another path which led us down the hill and over to the final leg of our journey, the beach trail. Usually this part of the lake is frozen over but there was little ice coverage by the shore. The ice coverage was two or three feet thick! The waves crashing against the ice made for some great pictures.
We never found our fearless leader, we sent the search dogs out:
All in all, we hiked about 5 miles and had a great time!
Originally we planned to go Cross Country Skiing this weekend but unseasonably warm weather changed those plans. We hiked at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, Indiana and after hitting most of the trails, we hiked into Madeline Bertrand County Park in Niles, Michigan. Two great parks, two great states.
We met at the Red Barn and headed through the trail loops on the west end of the park, trails 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Trails conditions in some spots was muddy, others were icy but mostly a combination of both. From the pictures, you will we found a tipi made of wood branches at the start of trail 1. Trail 2 there is an Osprey nest that we thought we might find a Bald Eagle that has been spotted in the area but we only found the empty nest. A young “Luke Trailwalker” led us down a path that brought us to an area of water with a small waterfall. (See pictures below). I made him honorary hike leader and like a champ, he lead us on the path back to the Red Barn, where we passed the tubing hill and an old fashioned gas pump.
When we made it back to the red barn, we had hiked about 2.5 miles thus far. Some used the opportunity to head out for other adventures.. we were lost without “Luke Trailwalker”. We headed along the river on trails 7 and 8 then into Madeline Bertrand County Park. After hiking around Madeline Bertrand County Park, we returned to St. Patrick County Park where were finished out the day with about 6.5 miles. My Fitbit showed about 14000 steps.
Before we get to the pictures, I did want to bring up “Our Parks”. I’ve been following along with some park information and some recent items either in the news or posted on our facebook page. I don’t want to get political about things, I always try to remain neutral but your parks are calling and want you to visit them. Many of the parks depend on the snow (In Winter) for additional revenue streams. Their budgets are tight because they usually are not revenue makers and local governments are looking for ways to cut costs. They end up cutting staff hours, reduce activities…especially when the weather does not cooperate. Show the various Parks Departments that you treasure them, before there is further cost reductions.
On to the pictures!
One of our members, Natasha, created an event inviting our club members to bring their dogs on a hike. It was a huge success!
We met up late this morning at the trail head at Potato Creeks trail 4. We had snow covered trails and the weather was cool but the sun was out which led the way to a temperature rise during our hike.
In all, there was approximately 10-12 dogs, a few extra humans who then proceeded to hike 2.25 miles in the first ever, South Bend Adventure Club Pooch Parade! I hope everyone understands there will be some Alpha’s in the group… so I will have to apologize if I seemed a bit pushy! Ah… for the dogs. Seriously though, there was a period where there was some canine tension but as soon as the hike started, most everyone was the best of friends.
At the end of the hike, a few people hiked an additional 6 miles along trail 4, trail 2 and trail 1, including a walk on the frozen lake. I’m always amazed to see ice fisherman since it was not something I saw growing up on Long Island.
Not sure about other dogs but our dogs fell fast asleep when they arrived home. Hopefully we can have additional pooch parades in the future!
We only had two families come out for the Three Dunes Challenge last weekend but upon posting some of the pictures, It seemed to peak interest in doing a second trip. The second trip brought out 14 members including two that enjoyed their first adventure with us. We also had some returning members who we were very happy to see come out.
All in all it was a beautiful day, it was cool enough to enjoy the short yet difficult hike. One picture in the gallery shows the city of Chicago across Lake Michigan. We also grabbed a Geocache towards the end, it was very created, it looked like a bee hive! Instead of adding too much information to this blog, I recommend also reading last weeks review about this hike (Three Dunes Challenge)
I reminisced with a few members concerning past events where we would grab a bite to eat after an event, we would have pot luck dinners, maybe catch a movie and just gel as a group. Today it felt we had that group together. Seven members went out to try out Blaze Pizza (Read My Review!) and sampled seven different pizza’s! Next week the group is heading to Spicer Lake, Warren Woods, Galien River, click that link for our Facebook page!
Over the past 10 years I have utilized US 31 for various trips starting in the South Bend, Indiana area. As I traveled south to Indianapolis, there have been many places I have driven through that have earned my mindful future pit stop consideration. Two years ago, we traveled down to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky and while we had an amazing time, there were other places we passed along the way that we were interested in seeing. After making the trip a few times, we realized it is not just the in between trips that were fresh in our minds but there are destinations a few miles ahead that warranted our attention.
I have a friend who over the course of two years made two visits to Nashville Tennessee. While on our last trip to Mammoth Cave (Mammoth Cave, Ky) I looked at a map and realize just how close (One hour and twenty minutes) we were from that very location. We have a neighbor who spends vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama. If we continued on the same US31/I65 corridor, it is only an additional 7 hour drive from Nashville. Did I mention what there is to do if we take US 31 North of South Bend?
((((Day Dreaming)))….We could ultimately start in Silver Beach Michigan wading in the waters along the shores of Lake Michigan. Driving South we could pick up our friends in South Bend, maybe take in a minor league Baseball game watching the South Bend Cubs. About an hour and a half further south, we could visit Grissom Air force Base or the Grissom Air Museum. From there, US 31 takes us right through the heart of Indianapolis, Indiana. We could stop off to enjoy some of the night life or the Indianapolis Indians could be another minor league Baseball stop. Afterwards we can camp for cheap at Shades State Park (once known as “Shades of Death” (evil laugh) or one of our favorite South Bend Adventure Club stops: Turkey Run, Turkey Run II or even Turkey Run III. We could spend a day hiking and then continue on to our next adventure at Mammoth Cave, Mammoth Cave II and Mammoth Cave II.I
Well rested after our Mammoth Cave visit, we can spend a crazy night in Nashville, Tennessee! The home to Country Music! I could easily see spending a day or two exploring Nashville! How could any adventurous, South Bend adventure club member not venture into Nashville?!?! I’m not 100% sure what lies between Nashville and Gulf Shores, Alabama but if we are in Nashville, we likely traveled 6 hours to this point. (not including all those stops)… WE ARE AN ADVENTURE CLUB! Why not complete the next 7 hours and find ourselves wading our feet in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico as we spend a day or two in Gulf Shores, Alabama…. There is a minor league baseball team not too far away, the Mobile Bay Bears… (I’m not too much of a Baseball nut, huh?). Since we have this crazy blog with tons of Loyal visitors, they can give us details of places to see along the way… right?
I was just day dreaming but maybe Spring 2016 will see this adventure come to fruition?
On September 19th, fifteen adventures embarked on the Grand Mere Lakes Adventure. Vic was kind enough to take the group picture at the beginning of the hike. Letting us know that these pictures are actually taken for the purpose of a good ‘last seen’ pic, just in case some don’t make it through, jk:) It was one of the most scenic hikes I’ve ever been on. Mark was an excellent trip leader and took us through unmarked trails with: dunes, forest, lakes, etc… Many great views. It was also really interesting to get the background and historical information on the area. Mark and I are already planning our next event to Grand Mere and are learning from this last one to make it even better. After the hike we relaxed and told stories around the beautiful fire and clear sky. We were outside long enough to fully reset our minds and spirits. As Kristen said it was a soul cleansing experience
Felt very fortunate for this group’s edition of outdoor adventuring for several reasons. The perfect weather was just the beginning. Earlier on the morning of our planned event, the area awoke to widespread rainy weather and overcast skies, part of a larger regional disturbance triggered by a cold front pushing through from Canada and heading East of our area. Luckily, Mother Nature had something else in mind for our adventure, and just like clockwork, as Our adventure’s start time approached, a clear and crisp Fall air mass replaced all of the threatening inclimate thunderous lightening and rain of the past overnight with severe clear blues skies, bright beaming sunny rays and brisk rustling drying breezes. It remained clear for the entirety and an amazing star lit night, full of constellations that featured the galactic plane’s distinct band stretching diagonally across the night’s sky, complete with an early setting waxing crescent gibbous Moon was the finale fitting of such a perfect adventure out.
It was great to have such a solid showing and support of 15 like minded people and two dogs to participate, including my long time friend (41+ yrs.), Paul, to join Our adventure! We all met up, following our travels from South Bend and elsewhere, a short distance from our adventure’s trailhead starting point, stopping briefly to regroup at North Lake Park, a local picturesque park situated on a post glacial lake, North Lake. This was a great point to momentarily pause, regroup and freshen up at the last opportunity to set foot in a modern restroom with running water for the duration of the looming six plus hour long adventure in the unspoiled, undeveloped wilds of Grand Mere Lakes National Monument and S.P.
It was here that I made some introductory remarks, welcoming everyone and thanking them for their participation. I discussed the aims and plans of this adventure, taking advantage of the Township park’s awesome park info sign and aerial map to visually aid in sketching’ out the planned hike loop route. An expectation of a successful and enjoyable adventure was set with some slight weight of the onus that I had just committed to, but was confident that things were going to go well and all would be glad in having made the effort to show up.
Taking the lead, we processed one final half mile car ride down a narrow unpaved two lane road – – Grand Mere Road to its end where we parked our autos. From this Township parking area there is immediate access to two different trail heads. One that stretches a few hundred feet up a small loose sand hill and then down again to the Lincoln Township chartered, Chicago Beach, a very small, 66′ wide, strip of Lake Michigan beach. The other one was the one we took to set forth upon what was to become a most memorable adventure.
Upon entering into G.M.S.P. on this second trailhead and were suddenly in an old growth Oak forest with another post glacial lake, Middle Lake, flanking our left and some low profile dunes on our right. the Trail was hard packed dry dirt.
Soon, afterwards we emerged into a large, mostly open area of loose sand characterized by undulating and blowing blowing sand dunes with patches of dune grasses and some sparse trees. Continuing through this expanse, the senses and expectation of fun discovery yet to come began to build up within us, all the while the roar of the wind blown waves on the lake could be heard from the distance, yet unseen for the dunes lying between us blocking our view of the main lake.
The Fall air blew in our faces keeping us invigorated as the warm sunlight cheered our moods. I warmed the party up with a few slow rising switchbacks in the open area, skirting along the leeward slope of a great forested dune. Following these, we eventually switched back upon the direction we had just walked from to begin to climb up a steeper slope of wooded duneland. The loose sand path had subtly turned back to hard packed sandy dirt as we entered into the cover of the forest again. Heading steadily uphill in covered forest, we soon approached our first picturesque overlook. A minor blown out area of exposed sand that coincided with a sharply steeper open pathway of loose sand that was a short way to ascend up the leeward slope of this dune (Dunham) which we were now ascending, though on the more manageable, longer slower rising dirt path.
It was from this point that we paused to rest and take pics of the vista of the nearby Middle Lake, allowing me also to be able to comment and remark about physical features and inform our group of things to come shortly ahead. Then, onward we climbed higher to Dunham’s summit, which was not very remarkable, yet in spite of its subtle feature, this summit point was a full 150+’ above the mean lake elevation of the main lake, Lake Michigan, which was partially visible through the thick forested dunes cover to our right. So it went, moving progressively forward through a long loop of intersecting paths and trails, up and down moderately strenuous high profile type parabolic dunes and foredune ridges, entering into and emerging back out of forested dunelands to open areas of loose and blowing sand with new scenic vistas and bucolic scenes of post glacial lakes, the distant Covert Ridge beyond to the East, adjacent dunes spied from on high and the recurring majestic views of Lake Michigan met us at every turn.
Following our hike’s exploration portion’s conclusion, our group found itself facing the Western horizon of the main lake at the sunset golden hour. John Raven and I found a spot inland, just inside the protection of the foredune ridge to hunker down in a protected open area cupped cove of sand to chose as the spot for our bonfire. The fire and afterglow of our groups afternoon long hike of exploring and discovery was a great finish. We shared our picnics and beverages, there was some music played and everyone was accounted for and made sure of being safely returned to their autos at the end of it all. A very successful time for all and one that will not be soon forgotten.
Peace to all…see you next time around, Mag!
On August 22, nine adventurers hiked the Cowles bog trail. This was a fun event hosted by Frank and Kerry last year, which I reposted. Carpooling and meeting interesting fellow adventures is part of what makes the trips so fun for me. The pink mushroom below was destroyed when we came back at the end of the hike. One adventurer saw some guilty looking kids:) Many variations in sights on this trail. Santiago’s in Chesterton had great food and wonderful service, someone got a free drink! At the end everyone decided to go have treats and ice cream at La Rosita in South Bend. La Rosita is an Adventure Club favorite.
Photo Credits to Craig and Dave.
Let’s be honest. Making the decision to host an event that involves drinking wine whilst riding a bike has less to do with adrenaline rushes and more to do with 1-ounce pours. And I’m OK with that. Not every adventure needs to challenge our endurance muscles, though this one did, at times, given some of the hills we encountered in Southwest Michigan’s wine country. Some adventures are best had meeting people for the first time and hoping they’ll trust you know what you’re doing (for the first time). South Bend Adventure Club was initially started to get people together (yeah, yeah, yeah) and get outside. And that pretty much works. Every time.
What else works? Being excited about it. I’ve wanted to do a trip like this for a few years, so I had a certain amount of hype for it. Plus, I’m all for getting off your bum (or your couch, at least) and biking some back roads. It means getting outside, sweating a wee bit and capturing some late summer air in your lungs. I’m also all for wine tasting. That meant eating ahead of time, hydrating often and psyching myself up for all the purchased wine I promised to tow in my 2 panniers. By the end of our roughly 12-mile bike tour, I was lugging 7 bottles of wine, a few wine glasses and I’m pretty sure some invisible gnome was catching a free ride. My legs had leveled up; tour de Michigan was on!
For the 8 of us that went, our tasting palates were diverse but we curiously inspected and shared each others flights. There are a few reds, I admit, that impressed me. The Riesling lover in me doesn’t veer far from that grape varietal but Michigan is doing good things with wine. I was also impressed that nobody (NOBODY) complained about the length of our bike ride, time spent at each winery or the hills we encountered (because I did not check elevation before creating this route). That made this event 100 times sweeter.
Post ride, we feasted and filled our bellies at Red Barn’s Pub House and Brewery. Fantastic food and an incredible beer flight value ($12/5 6-ounce pours, I believe). Most of the crew had to head back to South Bend, but a few of us ventured down to Round Barn’s estate and caught some live music, a part of the winery’s Jammin’ in the Vineyard Concert Series. You can see a full 2015 schedule here.
Give it a go:
The route: Begin at the Round Barn Brewery in Baroda, MI. Head north on First Street. Head east (out of town) on Lemon Creek Road. Approach *Lemon Creek Winery ($8/5 tastes) and Domaine Berrien Cellars($10/5 tastes)* Continue on Lemon Creek. Head south on Burgoyne Road. Approach *Free Run Winery($8/5 tastes)* Continue on Burgoyne. Head west on Snow Road. Head north on Lauer Road. Approach *Gravity($11/5 tastes w/ cheese/crackers. NO souvenir glass)* Continue on Lauer. Head west on Shawnee Road. Head north (back into town) on Hills Road. At First Street, turn left (south/east) and return to Red Barn Brewery.
On July 4th, four people began their beautiful Saturday morning with an adventure to discover some lesser-known (for us) eateries and neighborhoods in South Bend. “Bike & Eat South Bend” was a project started last fall to showcase eateries that weren’t well advertised, or were more neighborhood-centric, and to do so by bicycle. More here: http://www.bikeandeatsb.wordpress.com or on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bikeandeatsb . Last fall we did Western Avenue, so it was time to find a new focus, hence the need to Bike the City and rediscover our options. We did a full tour of Prairie St. and all the streets around it, and a bit less full tour of the neighborhoods around Miami, Mishawaka Ave, Lincolnway West, and a bit on/off Portage. We finished our tour relaxing with a very tasty scone and coffee from the NNN’s Local Cup coffeehouse on Portage. There were a lot of great finds – a lot of tiendas and convenience stores, a lot of neighborhood bars, and some eateries. Lots of cool houses, neat neighborhoods, interesting parks. A great way to explore the city!! In total we clocked around 25 miles on our bikes…not bad for roaming around a city. A mere sampling of our discoveries are below.
It was an excellent morning for a hike! Nine people met up in the parking area near the trail head of trail 4. The temperature was in the low 70’s when we started out and remained pretty steady throughout our hike. Much to my surprise, two of the hikers wanted to find the geocaches along the way, I’m no stranger to geocaching so we added that to the hiking adventure.
We started out the hike at the trail 4 trailhead by Porter Rea cemetery and followed the trail along Worster Lake. We didn’t see anything nesting in the Osprey nest but just a bit past the bird watching deck, we found a geocache nesting near the spring house. The spring house is a house in which food is kept cool by a spring that runs underneath or through it. I took a picture of the sign by the spring house for more information.
We took trail 4 to trail 2 and that took us to Steam Boat Hill, usually I like to take the trail to the right and “climb” up the hill but the trail appeared muddy and overgrown so we opted for the staircase. Not too far from the stairs, we started towards Vargo Hill which lists an elevation of 883 feet. I am told it is the highest point in St. Joseph County and that brought some debate about the highest point in Indiana.. Hoosier Hill is the highest point in Indiana at 1,257 feet and perhaps an upcoming SBAC Event??
We arrived at the deck at Vargo Hill and enjoyed the snacks we took along with us. It’s somewhat funny that the deck was build as an observation deck but in the years since it was built, the trees have grown and has blocked the view, still, it Is a great place to stop and rest!
We took the second half of trail 2 back to trail 4 where we took some pictures by the creek that goes along the trails at that point. (Son pictured below) Then stopped off again for a short break by an area I call “Tranquility Base”, which is the featured image. There is a bench at that location that I like to stop and reflect at
During our hike we found crab apples and enjoyed eating blackberries we found along the way. Other than seeing birds and frogs, the only other animals we came across were a few horses being ridden on the nearby horse trail. The only slight annoyance was the mosquitos buzzing around us. Cutting down the hike from my usual 6 to 4 miles and hiking earlier in the day was definitely beneficial. We hiked during the cool part of the day and were home by about noon! Thanks to everyone who joined me on this adventure. Pictures are below!
Geocaching at Fernwood Botanical Gardens
Members of the South Bend Adventure Club attended a Geocaching.com event hosted by Fernwood Botanical Gardens and run by the Geocaching.com group “The Geo-Cats”. As I was heading there, I wondered if the weather would dampen the interest in the event but once there, the clouds made way to partly sunny skies. There were approximately 30 people in attendance including 4 SBAC members.
The event and all of the 11 geocaches were themed on the book(s) “Where’s Wally”. The event started by giving away door prizes such as a free Fernwood membership, mystery bags (for kids) T-shirts and various other geocaching swag. Then members of the Geo-Cats group gave a powerpoint presentation on the in’s and out’s of Geocaching.
Afterwards I took a group of 3 out to find the 11 “Where’s Wally” themed Geocaches as well as 2 “Earth Caches”. Earth Caches are usually not a physical cache but…
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On the last, rainy weekend of May, nine hardy adventurers traveled to Parke County in west-central Indiana for a few days of primitive camping, skill-building, and hiking some of the best trails this state has to offer. Club member Eric, along with some friends from the New Sotterlee Project (an organization dedicated to conserving and disseminating information about our past, from historical documents to how-to demonstrations and more), arranged for us to pitch our tents on private property and learn about outdoor survival skills that our ancestors may have used. It was this author’s first time camping in the wild, starting a fire with flint and steel, threading a maggot onto a hook, changing outfits four times in one day due to mud, and digging a hole to… well, you know. And it was so much fun!
We arrived late Friday evening and set up camp around a patch of poison ivy. The under-18 crowd went straight to bed, and the rest of us stayed up late to chat, stargaze, listen to the wildlife, watch the moon sink below the trees, and debate the Oxford comma.
After a few hours of sleep, we woke to a hot and humid Saturday morning. A few of us took a walk down a little creek, where we saw raccoon tracks, water bugs, a turtle, and a crayfish. However, this excursion was deemed too dangerous after some of us got stuck up to our knees in quicksand-like mud. We returned to camp to find the others rousing and ready to roast some coffee. The adults busied themselves with their beans, and apparently also discovered some snakes and raptors in the process, while the children (and children at heart) played board games. We reconvened for Eric’s lesson in Setting Things on Fire using flint, steel, char cloth, and bundles of twine. Everyone who attempted the hands-on portion of the lecture was successful in setting something on fire, so the meeting adjourned. H, head of the New Sotterlee group, took over for a guided tour of a tree plantation that has been part of his family’s lumber business for about 30 years. He showed us the incredible differences in tree growth between areas that had seen an abundance of deer and areas that had been fenced off until the trees became too tall for the deer to munch. He also talked about the multigenerational aspects of forestry: clearing out invasive species and reintroducing natives to keep the forest healthy for years to come, and tending to acres of cherry that his great-grandchildren will one day be able to harvest. H was just starting to show our youngest adventurer how to scrape bark off a tree to reveal a chocolate-brown interior when the first thunderstorm of the day rolled in. We ran back to camp, getting extremely damp in the process, and took shelter in the swallow-infested barn. Eric got out the camp stove again and gave us a quick “five minute” lesson in Cooking your Clothes (i.e. making char cloth from an old cotton t-shirt). The rain let up, and H took us over to the pond for some hand-line fishing. H, with his modern fishing equipment, caught three bluegills (or was it the same bluegill three times?), but none of us had any luck with the hand lines. We weren’t out there long when the next storm rolled in. So rain, very wind, wow. That was a scary (yet thrilling!) powerwalk back to camp! Not wanting to introduce moisture into their sleeping areas, our drenched adventurers shed their modesty and wet clothing at the same time, then met back under the barn, in dry clothes, for dinner (bratwurst!) and second dinner (pizza!).
Day 3 dawned cold and rainy. After enjoying more coffee and pizza, we packed up and went our separate ways. One contingent headed a few miles up the road to Turkey Run State Park for a quick loop through the hollows. Although crawling with other two-legged creatures, the rock formations, waterfalls, and brilliant green photosynthesizers still made for breathtaking scenery. But weekends are ephemeral, and all too soon we were forced to pile back into the car for the long, cornfield-filled journey back to South Bend.
Many thanks to Eric and JH for organizing this extraordinary event!! I hope there are more of these to come!
Photo credits to Eric, Rochelle, and Stephanie.
A members adventure!
While some of the South Bend Adventure Club traveled to Parke County in Indiana to camp primitively as one of our members taught other members hands on camping skills such as fire building techniques (Can’t wait for details!!!). We have one member hiking the Grand Canyon, Rim to Rim but I had to take care of some of my local responsibilities.
I found out that my geocaches at a local park over-stayed their welcome and it was time to comply with the rules. The park only allows one Geocache and it must be replaced yearly. I am totally fine with this because generally when a geocache is placed, there is an initial interest in finding it but after the locals have found it, interest wanes and the geocache may sit for months without being found. I’ve had a puzzle cache in the park for atleast 4 years and it is…
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I was watching the weather closely coming up to this weekend and had we listened to the forecast, this adventure may not have been taken. Today was suppose to be a day or rain and thunderstorms and instead, it was a day of Adventure.
Thirteen people met at the visitors center at Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, Michigan with the threat of rain. We had a few members taking their first trip and a few who had never been to Fernwood. We started in the main gardens and one of the first places we visited was the “stick garden”
According to Fernwood’s description: “Artist Patrick Dougherty created Fernwood’s new stick sculpture, Take Five, in April 2014. Made from locally harvested willow and dogwood, Take Five is composed of five rooms that lean into each other connected by doorways and alleys. The roof is an oculus, as in an eye, opening at the top of each room, providing views of blue sky and sunshine. People are amazed at the size, sturdiness, and sweeping design of Take Five.”
From the Stick garden, we went to the Railway garden, which you can see in some of the gallery pictures. It was eye candy not only for the kids but the big kids too From there we ventured through the Japanese garden before taking a break at the Nature Center. At the nature center you can watch the birds get seed from the feeders but our added bonus was seeing a huge Raccoon devouring the food meant for the birds as well as some chipmunks. From the nature center, we hit the trails and our first stop was the water wheel. The water wheel is a location that two natural springs meet, I am told that there are a total of six natural springs on the property that flow into the Saint Joseph river.
After we left the water wheel, we took the Ecology Trail and as soon as we arrived at the dock at the ‘Big Pond”, we noticed two Turkey’s crossing the trail ahead of us, as we stood quietly, we noticed another four or five turkeys deeper in the woods. from the Ecology Trail we walked along the Saint Joseph River on the river trail. I sparked some interest when I mentioned a geocache up ahead. I gave one of the members my cell phone which was running the geocaching.com app. Not too long afterwards, we found our first of two geocaches on the day. We left the waters edge to head through the Wilderness Trail and then through the Old Field Trail. Tons of Ferns and Skunk Cabbage could be found alone these paths. We visited the Tall Grass Prairie, which at this time of the year is ankle high We then took a shortcut through the service road that goes around the arboretum back to the main grounds. At the main grounds I introduced everyone to the Sensory Garden. This is a garden that has plants and herbs that can appeal to ones senses. We found Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Licorice Basil. Peppermint, Spearmint and various other fragrant plants.
The trip at this point was two hours. We headed back to the visitors center where I showed everyone the Library, an indoor Fern Garden (with more trains) and we finished off at the café.. I forgot to mention that when we first arrived, the café was cooking up a carrot cake! We couldn’t leave without sampling it! Based on the feedback, everyone had a good time! As a people watcher, I really enjoy how people who hardly know each other interact with everyone during the course of a hike. While I enjoy the hikes, I enjoy seeing the camaraderie people share! Join us on our next adventure…and enjoy the pictures of what we saw during the hike!
We have been hoping that people would step up to the plate and plan Adventure Club trips and Jamie LaFortune Hartzke of the St. Joseph County Parks department did just that, asking if anyone would be interested in a SJCP sponsored Kayaking trip. The parks department provide the kayaks, the life jackets and the transportation- it was up to the members of the adventure club to have fun! and by the looks of the pictures they did!
The trip started at Keller Park in South Bend where they put the kayaks in the water and followed the St. Joseph River for 10 miles down to the Niles Dam. The weather was beautiful with temperatures reaching the mid 70’s!
Before I get to the pictures, the Saint Joseph County parks department is also hosting an event at Ferrettie/Baugo Creek Park called “Get Out There”:
The event is geared more towards kids (Kayak, Canoe, Frisbee Golf, Fishing, Geocaching..etc) but everyone should come out and see the park. The South Bend Adventure Club will also have a table at the event! Visit us!
For our final official adventure club trip, Kerry and I chose Turkey Run and Shades (in our opinion the best state parks in Indiana). Despite the warnings of thunderstorms, ten adventurers met up in town and headed to Indiana’s canyon country. A lot of people scoff at the idea of there being natural beauty and world class hiking trails in the Hoosier state. Those people have never been to Turkey Run and Shades.
We spent the weekend on the very rugged and very flooded trails. Although there were storms, ankle-deep muddy puddles and freezing river crossings, there was also a fancy lodge with free coffee, a warm chili dinner, a campfire, and good company. And by Sunday, the storm had passed and the warm sun was shining. Areas covered include Rocky Hollow, Falls Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Devil’s Backbone, Prophetstown Native American village, and a historic farm.
This trip was a good reminder to always ignore the forecast. Put on a poncho and get out there. Life is too much fun to wait for the storm to pass.