South Bend

#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

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

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”:

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!

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

Rough terrain in South Bend

This Sunday, five urban mountain bikers explored some of the lesser frequented parts of South Bend. We started in a parking lot off Angela Blvd and headed north into St. Mary’s College. From there we accessed a hidden abandoned railroad that follows the St. Joseph River. Obstacles included large downed trees and gravel that is just about the worst size for biking on. Next we crossed the river and continued to follow the once-rail-way, but here we had to fight our way through dense grasses that covered us in burrs and more terrible gravel. Thinking the worse was over, we crossed Lincoln Way and rode west to explore a densely wooded area that included a big abandoned chemical storage tank (accessible but potentially carcinogenic) and several patches of quick sand (plus more burrs and gravel). Once we got out of there alive, we shot down to Western Avenue in search of food. We found a very tasty small Mexican place called Taquiera Chicago. After stuffing ourselves on tacos, we returned to our cars via the East Bank Trail. In total we covered 11.75 miles. Overall, it was exhausting and fraught with challenges, but in all seriousness a pretty fun and exciting ride.


Categories: Adventure, Autumn, Biking, Day trip, South Bend, Urban Exploring, Urban Mountain Biking | Leave a comment

Paddle from South Bend to Lake Michigan

For hundreds of years, the St. Joseph River has been the superhighway of Michiana. It’s been paddled by Potawatomi tribes, French fur traders, and now the South Bend Adventure Club. On Friday, immediately after work, a group of nine of us launched our fleet (some owned, some borrowed) from a friend’s house, paddled through downtown South Bend (portaging around the dam at Seitz Park) and then off into the sunset. Our final destination: Lake Michigan.

There was actually a surprising amount of daylight left in the evening, and we took advantage of it, paddling until after 9:00. When we reached the French Paper Mill Dam portage in Niles, we were getting tired and decided to camp for the night in a hidden spot in the woods. There are mixed feelings about wild camping on public or private land without permission. My protocol is to make sure there are no signs explicitly prohibiting it, and to be as inconspicuous and non-invasive as possible. This means leaving nothing behind. In the unlikely case that someone does discover you, be courteous, apologize and most of the time people will be reasonable. The site was overgrown and buggy, but comfortable enough and free so we stayed.

We woke up Saturday morning and started the day with a long portage around the Niles dam. The portages are probably the most exhausting part of the entire trip because they require you to carry your boat and all of your stuff much longer than you would like. We had four portages on the trip (the South Bend one, this one just before Niles, one in Buchanan, and one in Berrien Springs). I had designed an axle with wheels to help with canoes. But otherwise, there’s no real easy way to get past dams (this is one of many reasons you should oppose any dam construction projects in any way you can).

Saturday was our powerhouse day where we covered the majority of the miles. Throughout the day we passed through the city of Niles, Lake Chapin, and Berrien Springs. The current in Lake Chapin was painfully slow and about half of the group jumped in the water to cool off. Two group members decided to end their adventure at Berrien Springs and called for a pickup from home. The others pressed on. That evening, we stopped at a few different spots searching for a campsite before we came across a perfect little chunk of cleared land that looked promising. We set up camp, cooked some dinner, and passed out from exhaustion.

We woke up Sunday and kept paddling, despite our sore arms. The section following the Berrien Springs dam moved pretty swiftly and we covered lots of distance very fast. This section was also the most undeveloped part of the river. For the whole weekend, the banks had been pretty regularly covered with ornate houses (palaces would be more appropriate for some). But here, the houses thinned out and it was mostly dense wilderness. In the late morning, houses started to appear again and we were soon in the outer edges of St. Joseph. We had shuttled our cars to a friend’s house in town so they were there waiting for us. Some of the group opted to end the paddle a few miles short of the lake and avoid the treacherous wind and waves to come. One even made it to within sight of the lake and then decided it was out of his league. But three of us pushed onward, determined to make it out into the lake no matter what the cost.

The river ultimately feeds you into a corridor that runs between two piers into the lake. To officially paddle to the lake, we had to paddle past and then around the pier to land on the beach. As soon as we were along the piers, several large motor boats passed us, creating wakes that echoed back and forth between the piers and turned the entire corridor into a giant wave pool. The waves were over our heads and our little canoe and kayak bobbed up in down in the turbulence, but we pushed on. Beach goers watched us in amazement from the piers. Eventually we paddled around the end of the pier and headed for Silver Beach. Now we were being slammed from behind by lake waves and our boats came dangerously close to tipping over about every ten seconds. We surfed our way back to shore and the trip was finally over. All that was left was some shuttling of cars. Some of the group went out for a victory meal at a local brewery before heading back to town.

With most of northern Indiana and southern Michigan covered in cities and cornfields and very little of it kept natural, it can be hard to find a real wilderness adventure in the region. Rivers are one exception. They act as a wild corridor and can allow you to escape the structured world of parks with entrance fees, rangers, and regulations. On the river, you’re on your own. While much of the St. Joe’s banks are developed, it still has enough wildness to feel like you’re getting away from civilization for a little while.

Total miles paddles: 57
Total time spent paddling: 15 hours
Average speed: 3.8 miles per hour
Number of boats: 2 canoes, 5 kayaks
Wildlife seen: Bald eagles, river otters, turkeys, blue herons, deer, slugs, mosquitoes, damselflies
Total trip cost: $10 for gas

St Joe Map

Categories: Adventure, Paddling, River camping, South Bend, St. Joseph River, Summer | 3 Comments

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