Saturday, June 13, 2020

Michigan's Kirkland Warbler GeoTrail

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.”


And, so, that is how we felt Saturday as ShelleyJean, TaGeez and I headed up to Roscommon for the Kirtland Warbler's geotrail. With Governor Whitmer loosening the restrictions for COVID-19 travel, we were free to roam (with proper precautions - Have I mentioned that SJ bought a personal porta-potty? Brilliant!).

The brainchild of Mike Petrucha, the Kirtland Warbler geotrail was supposed to run in conjunction with the annual (cancelled this year) Kirtland Warbler Festival.

Welcome to the Kirtland's Warbler GeoTrail (KWGT) Launch. This trail will take you in a loop in central Northern Michigan through the Jack Pine ecosystem, breeding home of the Kirtland's Warbler. This tour takes you to a total of 25 caches with an amazing trackable geocoin as a reward (100 available)

Big kudos to Mike, who moved the launch event to a large parking lot for social distancing and even supplied homemade masks for those in need. No surprise that almost 100 geocachers attended - our first opportunity to get out and enjoy the sunshine in months due to lock down.

Ran into friends at the I-75 rest stop

ShelleyJean, TaGeez and Scrapcat - playing it safe

And away we go! It's estimated it's a 128 mile drive from cache to cache between Roscommon and Mio. It made for a very nice loop, and we ran into other cachers at most every stop. Part of the trip was on rural highways but a good portion were on these tiny Michigan logging roads!

Mural at one of our stops

World's Large Kirtland Warbler - Mio

Mike did things a little differently than most geotrails. As we found each cache, inside the container was a question to be answered from the geocache page. Great way to ensure we read them and learned more about the Kirtland Warbler and the Jack Pine ecosystem.

Kirtland Warblers nest at the base of the Jack Pine

It took us exactly 5 hours to complete the 128-mile trip, collecting smilies on 24 of the 25 caches (traffic jam on a narrow logging road so we skipped 1 outlier). We ended our geotrail in the Gahagan Nature Preserve where Mike awarded each of us a lovely geocoin. By day's end, he was down to 4 out of a hundred.

We had intended to walk and do a picnic lunch at the preserve so we detoured to a nearby park for cold fried chicken, green grapes, and Pringles. SJ brought her peach bread, which we enjoyed sitting under a tree near the baseball field. Absolutely lovely. 

With time to spare we drove up to Hartwick Pines State Park (Michigan's largest old-growth forest), where Shelley & I walked the trails while TaGeez napped in the car. Here we heard many birds, including, we think, the Kirtland Warbler, but we didn't see any. Nor did we see people - the trials were cool and peaceful under that lush canopy of trees.

For old time's sake - they got a new sign!

Tree Worshipper
Scrapcat visiting The Monarch

ShelleyJean, Bird Watcher

Chapel in the Woods

94 days in lock down due to COVID-19. We tried to keep our spirits up, but nothing could've been more restorative than out with friends, in beautiful Michigan, on a new geotrail. PRICELESS.

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