Adventure

First Hike, January 1st

Last year, we had a very successful, January 1st “hAnGoVeR hIkE” but this year instead of leading an event, I piggy backed on a hike offered by the DNR at Potato Creek County Park. While it was a chilly morning, it was great to see the sun shine on this first day of the year.

“Maggie” (DNR Interpreter) led the hike, which was an easy hike, probably about a mile but we stopped off along the trail several times to find out information about animals, fowl, fish, amphibian and insects that live in the park as well as their hibernation and winter activities. Of special interest to me was finding out that Bees tend to hibernate on the north side of a hill, in soil that drains well. This is done so that a warm sun beating down on the south of a hill does not trick them into thinking spring has arrived. The well drained soil helps so when the snow melts, it does not drown them! (layman’s terms, lol)

Approximately 25-30 people attended this hike, of which six South Bend Adventure Club members joined us, including Outdoor Adventure columnist Joe Dits of the South Bend Tribune.

At the end of the hike, we went back to the Nature Center where some joined in on “Cocoa with the Birds”, we talked, got warm and then headed home. See some pictures below!

Some may notice that I have spent less time leading events and I will be leading less events in 2017. Having a son in High School Orchestra, who also plays with the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra AND has been spending more time with Piano lessons and after school activities, it is really hard for me to commit to creating events. This is one one of the reasons we look to our membership to create outdoor related events! If you wish to lead an event, please see our easy how to guide! (Click here “Leading Trips” ). We are down to only two or three admins — The blog needs to be updated, links need to be fixed, I’d like to work on an “Event Calendar” for all Outdoor related activities, so any help that anyone can give is a gift we will accept 🙂  I may stay behind the scenes for now working on all this and occasionally do an event, I’m hoping our membership can fill in the gaps on events.  We may also have a membership meeting within the next few weeks so people can share their thoughts on the club.

That being said… Here are the pictures!

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Categories: Adventure, Hiking, Potato Creek State Park, South Bend Adventure Club, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

#OptOutside with the SBAC!

It’s been a while since I led an event. I’ve been doing my own thing as of late, hoping that others would take the opportunity to lead events but I just couldn’t let this opportunity go by, to get people to… #OptOutside on this extended holiday weekend!

Today it was a 3.5 mile hike at Ferrettie Baugo Creek County Park, tomorrow I will host a running event followed by a 2.5 mile walk. Both events will be around the Mishawaka River Walk.

We had seven people show up for this event, two who were attending a South Bend Adventure Club trip for the very first time! Unknown to me, Joe Dits, who writes about Outdoor Adventures for the South Bend Tribune, joined us for this adventure! It was a pretty decent late November day in Northern Indiana, it was an overcast day, temperatures in the 40’s, the sun peaked out from time to time to check in on us and to make sure we had some warmth on our faces.

We started in the parking area, hiked towards “Baugo Station”. Before arriving at Baugo Station,  we visited the Saint Joseph County Parks Department official Geocache. From Baugo Station, we headed south along the creek. We crossed the old bridge (pictured below) and continued south along the trail that closely followed the creek. We took some pit stops by some of the areas where the creek got it’s name “Baubaugo”… or “Devil Water”. Despite the fast moving water, the usual areas where the trails get flooded were in pretty good shape. Despite the recent rains, it wasn’t muddy at all. Since I last blogged about the park, it appears they have placed gravel under the Railroad bridge and Washington St and this has kept the area, on the most part, from having standing water or slick mud. (Thank you!).  In early 2016, I agreed to Adopt the trails in this park and to do maintenance where I could. At the end of the hike we got to talking to one of the park employees, it turned out, it was Shelly, who I report my time spent volunteering at the park. It was nice meeting you (Again) Shelly!

After the hike, most of us headed to Bravo Cafe (Lincoln Way, Osceola, Indiana) for some post hike nourishment. Excellent food! We took the time to get to know one another better and to discuss some of the adventures we went on. I’d call this group “Cohesive”, we got along and I think everyone had a great time.

In this day and age, technology is a big part of life and I just can’t help but use technology to track my steps and to give people a perspective of where we have hiked. The Featured image on the blog today was the tracks from my Garmin Forerunner watch exported to Google Earth.  In fact, I had both my old Garmin Forerunner (for GPS) AND also used my Fitbit Charge HR to get steps and heart rate. I’m a gadget geek! I can’t afford all the new technologies that are available but I love tracking everything I do!

I hope you enjoy the few pictures I took. Hopefully you will join us on our next adventure!

 

Categories: Adventure, Baugo, Hiking, South Bend, South Bend Adventure Club, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A Weekend of Adventure!

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!

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Warren Dunes State Park- Michigan

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:
dogs

All in all, we hiked about 5 miles and had a great time!

Categories: Adventure, Day trip, Outdoors, Save The Dunes, Uncategorized, Warren Dunes State Park | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Our Adventures/Our Parks

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.

Aside from our local parks, there is plenty of action you can take for our local parks:
Elbel Parks Discussion on Sale/Lease of Land
Save The Dunes (Facebook)

On to the pictures!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Activism, Adventure, Elbel, Madeline Bertrand, Save The Dunes, South Bend, South Bend Adventure Club, St. Patrick's County Park, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Three Dune Challenge- Part II

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!

Categories: Adventure, Life, South Bend | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

4 Mile Hike at Potato Creek State Park

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!

Categories: Adventure, fitness, Hiking, walking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fernwood Botantical Gardens Tour and Hike

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”

stick

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!

Categories: Adventure, Bird watching, Fernwood, Hiking, Life, South Bend Adventure Club | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Kayaking trip sponsored by the St Joseph County Parks

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”:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1621511088093495/

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!

IMG_3679 IMG_3673 IMG_3672 IMG_3669 IMG_3667 IMG_3664 IMG_3662 IMG_3660 IMG_3645 IMG_3644 IMG_3690 IMG_3686 IMG_3684

Categories: Adventure, Kayaking, Life, South Bend, South Bend Adventure Club | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Frank and Kerry’s new adventure!

Since word is slowly trickling out, I was given permission for this exclusive. Frank and Kerry are setting their sights on a new adventure. Frank has taken a job in Kansas! I had always known that this was an inevitable situation but just hearing the news, it was shocking, sad and bittersweet.

For those of you who may not know, Frank and Kerry started the South Bend Adventure Club back in 2013 and it quickly gained a following. I think it is fair to say that Frank and Kerry are the spark of “Ignite Michiana”! Having gone on many adventures with them, I can honestly say that I learned a great deal from them and they have always been hospitable to all.  There have been adventures just about every weekend from mid 2013 thru 2014, something that I’m not quite sure can ever be matched again. Their genuine hospitality, sense of adventure, greatness, awesomeness, leadership and friendship will also likely go unmatched.

And you can’t stop the adventurous spirit of these two, from what I understand, there is a new club in Kansas that will be the benefactor of our loss. I certainly hope there will be upcoming events posted so that we can visit Frank and Kerry and they can take us on a few more adventures!

So what now? What will happen to the adventure club?

Frank and Kerry tapped me to take on a bigger role in the club and while I appreciate that, we have often discussed EVERYONE taking on a bigger role. We have 1,300+ members, everyone can be a leader! I often see people requesting certain types of adventures, posting adventures after the fact and posting adventures that are being organized outside our club, why not be proactive and create an event for the club?  Please take the opportunity to fill the calendar with adventures!  The club can only continue on with the support of it’s members! It’s up to YOU! 🙂

For the next year, I will work, in the interim, at some of the behind the scene administration work such as renewing the blog. I will post my usual local hiking adventures, may plan a Mammoth trip later in the year and search for local events I can add to our calendar. My hope is that the club will be 100% member supported. Again, it’s up to you.

Frank and Kerry, You will truly be missed! I can’t wait for the first Adventure Club trip to Kansas!
Good Luck and Best Wishes!

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Camping and Hiking at Potato Creek State Park

We planned a local trip to Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty, Indiana in an effort to get people to take their camping gear out of storage and enjoy a beautiful spring weekend. Unfortunately Friday night the temperatures dipped down to a wintery 32 degrees! It was cold but we stayed toasty in our sleeping bags. (I have to admit, I was feeling under the weather so in the middle of the night I sat in my car and turned up the heat! lol ). It also seems to be a trend for my last few hikes. The last few were meant to be “Spring Tune-up” hikes but the cold weather persists in our area.

Saturday morning, after we finished our breakfast, we headed to the nature center where we met other Adventure Club members for a 6+ mile hike. It was mostly the standard hike with some off trail hiking as well.  We started off at trail 1, over to trail 2, around trail 4 to the back half of trail 2 and the back half of trail 1. Along the way we saw the ospreys nesting, an osprey in flight and one of our members found an osprey feather.  We went from a temperature of 32 degrees to around 70 degrees by the end of the hike. We went from freezing to sun burned!

Everyone returned to camp following the hike, and it’s the first for me, a Yoga class broke out! One of our Adventurers is a yoga instructor and a few others have taken Yoga classes.  Afterwards, we got a fire going in the fire pit and everyone made some shish-kabobs that Craig Kimble was nice enough to supply the meat, onion, peppers, mushrooms and fixings. It sure beat the hot dogs that I brought! He also brought the ingredients for s’mores but with a twist. The s’mores were made with Lindt chocolate in various flavors such as my favorite, red chilli pepper.

After resting up a bit, I took a group out on another trail to find a geocache that was hidden by the Boy Scouts. Another member went on a trail run and others checked out some trails they had not been on yet.

My son and I were incredibly tired and achy from the cold, the hiking and from the shift in weather; we decided to break camp instead of staying over thru Sunday.  That is the benefit, especially for beginners, of hiking locally.  In the event something comes up, you are always close to home.

Don’t miss the opportunity to go on our next adventure to Turkey Run State Park (and Shades State Park)! You can check our past blogs to see the story and pictures from those trips:
Adventures at Turkey Run
Turkey Run State Park and Shades State Park

Below are some pictures submitted by some of the members who hiked. (Many thanks to Adidi Kelkar and Frank Bouchard)

Categories: Adventure, Camping, Life, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Potato Creek 6 Mile Tune-Up Hike!

I led a group of 10 people on my third installment of Tune-up Hikes on a beautiful Saturday Morning. Overnight we had unseasonable temperatures in the low 30’s but the forecast called for temperatures upwards of 50 degrees by the end of the hike. Before I start with my description of the hike, I have to tell you how impressed I am with the comradery I find on these hikes. I see that people will talk to those they are familiar with to start the hike but then start talking to other people during the hike. I seem to end up talking to everyone at one point or another. It happens on every hike and I just love seeing it.

We met up at the Nature Center at Potato Creek State Park for a six mile hike. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining bright! We took the Southern portion of Trail 1 which gave us an excellent view of Worster Lake over to the Southern portion of Trail 2. From Trail 2, we hit Trail 4 and heard the sounds of spring! It almost sounded like dozens of birds chirping but we were hiking past a rather large pond, it was actually Frogs/Toads welcoming us with their sweet sound! We took a short break near the Porter Rae Cemetery which was about half way through our hike. Some took the opportunity to explore the early inhabitants of the area. Potato Creek at one point was farm land but the residence left the land to develop a park. More information on the early inhabitants and a copy of the original plat can be found at the Nature Center.

You can find evidence of homesteads as you hike through the trails. There are still some stone walls, a left over drill that was likely used to find ground water on trail 2. While on Trail 4, there is a Spring House that was recreated from pictures of the original. A Spring House was used by early American’s to store their food. A natural spring ran underneath the house, the cold spring water kept the contents of the house cooled.  You can still see a stone wall as you walk past which includes a set of steps which led to the original homestead. Continuing along Trail 4, there is a path of Pitch Pine/White Pine that likely was the driveway of one of the early settlers. Once we finished Trail 4 and headed up the service road back to Trail 2, you find that there are a set of Cedar trees and further on, on Trail 2, there is another line of pine trees, again, this is from the original settlers in the area, it is not something that occurs naturally. In fact, if you walk this very path in the spring, as we did, you will find wild growing Snowdrops, Crocus and Tulips. Again, these were planted by the early inhabitants. We also saw skunk cabbage and I showed the group the “Onion Grass” that was growing. (Sorry, I’m just impressed by this stuff, lol )

As we continued on Trail 2, you have the option of climbing up a set of steps that appear out of nowhere, or you can continue down a side path for another 100 yards and take “Steam Boat Hill” which is an uphill incline, about 25 yards in length that will make your thighs burn! We had a good group and everyone took “Steam Boat Hill”. From Steam Boat Hill, we continued on to the “Rugged” portion of Trail 2 that leads to “Vargo Hill”.  Vargo Hill is at an elevation of 883 feet and I am told it is the highest point in St. Joseph County (I haven’t been able to confirm it). I had mentioned in the description of the hike, we would stop off here and have a Picnic because it was the highest point and it has a deck where everyone could sit and rest a while. From Vargo Hill, we finished off that last portion of Trail 2 and finished the last mile on Trail 1.

From start to finish, we covered 6.25 miles in less than 2 hours and 45 minutes. Thanks to everyone who came out today, including 1 member on his first group hike. To close out the blog, here are some pictures taken along our path today, Enjoy!

Categories: Adventure, Hiking, michiana, South Bend Adventure Club | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trail running on a 2000 year-old celestial calendar

This weekend, as usual, we tested our endurance and explored more of Indiana. Our journey began Friday night when we drove to the town of Muncie. There was a frigidly cold rain that was expected to last all night, so we reassessed our plans to camp. Instead we ended up couch surfing at a historic house from 1890 with a couple of gracious hosts. If you still don’t know about the website couchsurfing, do yourself a favor; get on there right now and make an account. I’ve lost track of all of the great experiences I’ve had with couchsurfing and it can make trips way cheaper. We were given an entire bedroom with a king sized bed and a view (for free of course).

We woke up before the sunrise to drive to Mounds State Park and prepare for the DINO race we had come to do. DINO (Do INdiana Off-road) is a group that runs a series of trail races across the state. The registration money goes towards trail maintenance and it’s a fun way to stay in shape and see some parks. Due to the previously mentioned rain, the trails were muddy and messy, but we charged onward undaunted. Kerry ran the 15k (winning 1st in her age group despite losing her shoes six times!) while Tim and I ran the 5k. By the end of the race, the sun was out and the day was beautiful. We were joined by two more club members and went on a hike through Mounds State Park. The park gets its name from the large earthen hills that were built by Hopewell natives thousands of years ago. Their positions line up with the sunset during the summer and winter solstices, making them ideal for predicting the timing of seasonal changes. We saw several and they were pretty amazing. Evidently, many of these mounds could end up underwater by the proposed construction of a dam which you should be opposed to – see more details here. After our hike, we set up tents at the campground. That night we had a blazing fire on which we cooked a big batch of vegetarian chili. The night was cold, but survivable.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed to our final stop, Ouabache State Park. At Ouabache we went on a 3-mile hike. Highlights along the way included a 100-foot fire tower and grazing bison. Long ago bison were abundant in Indiana until they were exterminated by obnoxious European colonists. This small herd was introduced by park staff to re-establish the original grazing regime and give visitors a glimpse of the Indiana that once was. We had fun watching them munch on grass and wallow in the mud. Finally, satisfied with our explorations (and out of weekend) we returned to South Bend.

Categories: Adventure, Couch Surfing, Hiking, Mounds State Park, Oubache State Park, Running, Trail Running | 1 Comment

Tune-up hike at Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park

This past week everyone was feeling good about the constant above freezing temperatures, the snow that seems to have been around for months has been slowly melting away. The snow around my house has totally melted except for the snow that is on the north side of the house which doesn’t get any direct sun. I figured we would see pretty much the same thing as we hiked at Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park.

Baugo is short for Baubaugo, which is a term the Indians used to describe the creek. Baubago means “Devil Water” and the Indians called it that due to the way the creek swells after a hard rain (or snow melt!) That summed up part of the hike. The park was once a garbage dump site and it is on the tail edge of a EPA Super Site. They offer seasonal activities such as a Tube Hill, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Shoeing and Frisbee Golf. For those of you who kayak or canoe, they have a canoe launch which leads to the St. Joseph River. Or visit the park from the St. Joseph river!

The beginning of the hike was promising, the dirt road and the trail head had no snow! But when we crossed under the bridge under Lincoln Way and the Railroad crossing, it was flooded and muddy. Beyond that, the trails were a combination of snow, ice and wet ground.

We had 14 members on the hike which was meant to be a 4 mile tune up hike for those who want to stretch their legs and start working towards longer hikes in the future but we had a pretty lively group, including two youngsters who I told, if their parents were older than them, they had to assist them along a part of the trail that went along the edge of a drop off. Because of the stops along the way to take some pictures, the hike took us less than two hours and we covered about 3 miles.

I am planning two other hikes at Potato Creek in a few weeks which will be a bit more challenging due to slight elevation changes, we welcome you to go! To find out the latest information on events, join our Facebook page.

Here are some pictures and the trail of our hike today:

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Categories: Adventure, Hiking, South Bend | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Icy wonders of Lake Michigan in winter

A day at the beach for fun in the sun may sound completely ridiculous this time of the year. But ice is a strange thing. It can be beautiful and create jaw-dropping formations. It can transform a place that you’ve visited a hundred times into an alien world. It’s certainly worth donning a jacket and driving an hour. So this Saturday, 17 people (and 1 husky) from the club got together for a day of ice-watching. We started out by driving to Tiscornia Park in St. Joseph, MI. Just across the river from Silver Beach, this park is usually less crowded and has access to the lighthouse pier. We walked out (careful not to slip) to the far lighthouse, which was completely covered in ice and looked like an monstrous creature rising from the frozen lake.
From there, we grabbed some sandwiches at Baguette de France, a cute little shop also in St. Joseph. The food was tasty, fast, and cheap.
Finally, we moved on to Grand Mere State Park. We hiked a 3.3-mile loop that took us out onto the beach and along a ridge line (part of a parabolic dune). The snow-covered trails were a challenge, but we plowed through.
It takes a bit more will power for most people to get outside these days, but its rewarding. And if all 17 of us did it, then so can you. There are sights to see that aren’t going to be there in the spring, so now is your chance. Take it.

Safety tip: It can be dangerous to walk out onto the frozen lake. It isn’t always as solid as you think and hills can have pockets of air that collapse from your weight. People die out there every single year. That isn’t a reason not to go, just stay safely on solid ground. Also bring hiking or skiing poles to avoid slipping.


Categories: Adventure, Dunes, Grand Mere, Hiking, Ice, St. Joseph River, Winter | 2 Comments

Cross-country skiing and tasty Venezuelan cuisine

The trails are still covered with snow. Cross-country skiing is pretty much the best way to pass the time while staying active through these cold, wintry days. We were able to get an impressive total of 18 people (not all at once, but people came and went throughout the day) out for a trip at Madeline Bertrand County Park this Saturday. We had a mix of experience levels, but it didn’t take too long for the newbies to catch up. We skied the green loop once and the yellow loop twice, while various sub-groups split off to ski more or fewer miles than the main group. Snow conditions were perfect and an unusual weekend warm front made the air temperature tolerable. Once we had our fill of the trails, we headed to Mango Cafe for a feast of delicious Venezuelan arepas, empanadas, fried yucca, plantains, and other various fried, cheese-filled creations.

The Madeline Bertrand/St. Joseph ski trails, which are accessible from either of those parks, are well groomed, pretty entertaining, and a very short drive from town. They rent out skis and have a cozy warming lodge with a fire place and bird-watching window.

Categories: Adventure, Madeline Bertrand, Ski | Leave a comment

Indiana’s underground playground

The frigid cold of mid-winter Michiana brings some different challenges for adventurers, but it also brings different opportunities. One of my favorite go-to winter activities is caving since temperatures underground stay at a comfortable 53 degrees year-round. After having taken a small group of experienced cavers to scout out Sullivan Cave a few weeks ago, we were ready to send in the whole gang. Friday night, 15 club members caravaned down to Shakamak State Park, our base of operations for the weekend. Another challenge of winter is that camping just plain sucks (in my opinion). In the past we’ve used couchsurfing.org to find free lodging, but our group has grown too big for that. Luckily, Shakamak has affordable 22-person cottages. We piled in and had a warm weekend of sleep for a reasonable $15 per person.

Saturday morning we drove to Sullivan Cave outside of Bedford. Exploring the cave went smoothly for the most part. We got in and immediately walked down the 2000 ft ‘back breaker’ passage, a walkway about 4 ft tall that requires you to hunch over in the most awkward way possible. Next it was a tight squeeze crawl to the Mountain Room, an impressive space that literally contains an underground mountain of collapsed rubble. We climbed to the top, then back down and continued. We took a long passage through a river (only up to our knees) to the Quarry Room. This room is full of bus-sized pieces of rock, fallen from the ceiling long ago and now available for us to climb on. At that point we turned back to begin our exit of the cave. On the way out, half of the party briefly got separated and lost, but were found pretty quickly. We spent about five hours total underground and had a pretty great time.

After making it back to the surface, we returned to the cabin and feasted on our potluck dinner, which included a cornucopia of amazing dishes. As our party heated up, things quickly progressed to playing rounds of the game dizzy bat, which quickly progressed to not playing dizzy bat when one person almost ended up vomiting. Later that night, we got word that a super massive snow storm was moving in and would probably make travel on Sunday impossible. About half of the group decided they couldn’t risk missing their work obligations, packed up, and headed back to town that night. The other half decided to ride out the storm and leave in the morning. Our Sunday hiking plans were cut short by weather, but everyone made it home safe.


Some photos were provided by Lara.

Categories: Adventure, Cabin, Caving, Shakamak State Park, Sullivan Cave, Winter | 2 Comments

Scouting out Sullivan’s Cave

This weekend a group of intrepid adventurers headed down to cave country in southern Indiana to explore yet another cave system. Caves are confusing and we are notorious for getting lost in them. In an attempt to be safer and more responsible trip leaders, we decided to take a small band of experienced cavers to scout it out. Five of us drove to Bloomington and met up with Andy, a friend from another adventure club. We couch surfed with Dave, another friend from a previous caving trip. The six of us squeezed onto the floor, happy to not be camping in sub-zero temperatures.

Saturday morning, after a pit stop at Crescent Donuts, we drove to the cave. There we met Joy and Dave, two experienced cavers that had been in Sullivans many times. They helped us navigate through the many twists, turns, and passages. Overall, there was less crawling than previous caves we’ve been to, but lots of awkward bending over and lots of water. We were in the cave for about five hours before we exited into the freezing open air, completely drenched. Satisfied with our mission, we headed out for other fun.

We went to the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center where we marveled at the ornate buildings and shrines and got a mini tour from one of the staff members. Feeling enightened, we went back into town to Turkuaz for delicious Turkish cuisine while sitting on a pile of lavish pillows fit only for a sultan. We crashed again at Dave’s house.

Sunday morning, we stopped at McCormick’s Creek State Park for some precarious hiking on the frozen river before finally heading back to South Bend.

This trip was in preparation for an upcoming trip, also to Sullivan’s Cave that will be open to beginners. If you’re interested in trying out caving, sign up on our facebook event.

Categories: Adventure, Bloomington, Caving, Couch Surfing, McCormick's Creek State Park, Sullivan Cave, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center | 3 Comments

Hiking at Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park

Fourteen South Adventure Club members met up at Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park (aka Baugo) at 10am this morning to hike and geocache. It was a bit misty as we were heading to the park but it cleared up for our hike. The temperature was near an unseasonable 45 degrees. The park was not charging an admission on this day so that was an added bonus.

We took a short hike to the first geocache (http://www.geocaching.com) and found what is considered a “pill bottle”, well hidden in the branch of a pine tree. We then went to a trail head where we met up with an additional three members of the adventure club. Early on the trail was a bit muddy, we headed under a train trestle as a large locomotive train passed over head. We Followed Baugo Creek as it wound through the woods south Of Lincoln Way. If you have every looked at a map of Baugo, it appears to be a rather small park but the park continues South of Lincoln Way and Washington and there are 1, 2 and 4 mile trail loops.

As we followed a creek, we noticed a bridge ahead. Before we crossed the bridge, we took some pictures (see below) along the bank of the creek. After we crossed the bridge we followed a narrow trail that followed the creek. The trail has been narrowed due to erosion on the bank of the creek. We followed the Portage Trail to the Tumpline Loop Trail where we spent time enjoying where the creek flows to a quicker pace. We could see trees in the creek off in the distance that the park has manually placed. This was done to re-introduce the beaver to the area. The Trumpline Loop Trail is somewhat difficult to follow at times as the creek rises a great deal due to rain and snow melt. You will see some pictures in the gallery that will show that. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Aditi Kelkar, who took about 3/4ths of the pictures in the gallery.

We continued back to the Portage Trail before taking the Palisades trail through the outside portion of the property, which loops back to the Portage Trail. The building you see in one of the pictures is “Baugo Station”, This is a place where you can rent snow shoes, cross country skis or other seasonal activities. We continued on to a little known trail west of Baugo Station to find another geocache, the trail continued to the North West of the property and then we followed it to a pier on Lake Osceola to search for another geocache. We finished off the hike by hiking up the Tube hill and hiking down the other side searching for another geocache. It was a slower paced hike that included many great places to take a picture, again, I didn’t take many but I thank everyone for (again, such as Aditi Kelkar) for allowing me to share them.

After the trip, we stopped off at “Bravo Café” (Highly Recommended!) which is similar to a Greek Diner. I had a Beef Shish-kabob which was a massive plate of Steak, Onion, Potato, Green Pepper and Rice. Someone else ordered a Chicken Salad (that too , pictured below) A great day with a great group of people!

 

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Baugo, Geocaching, Hiking | Leave a comment

Muddy monks, ammunition depots, and boba tea

On Saturday, a small group of three headed west to Joliet, Illinois. Kerry and Kelly spent the morning racing the Muddy Monk trail 10k, which turned out to be more of a challenge than expected but still fun. After wolfing down complimentary veggie hot dogs, we drove to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie where we hiked a bit and explored an eerie field of cement bunkers once used for ammunition storage. Next we hit Kankakee River State Park and enjoyed a walking path along the river with views of rocky cliffs. Finally, dinner at Joy Yee, a pan-Asian place that had way too many boba tea flavors on the menu. Fun stuff.

Kerry’s Blog about the race
Joy Yee’s absurd drink menu

Categories: Adventure, Day trip, Hammell Woods Forest Preserve, Hiking, Kankakee River State Park, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Trail Running | Leave a comment

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