Friday, November 10, 2017

Manka Trails Snowshoe/Walking Trail

I had an extra day off today for Veterans' Day and so Noelle, Sierra and I took advantage by heading over to the local Manka Trail for a walk in the snow. There is a groomed and lighted ski trail loop, along with a walking trail, which is what we traveled on today.
Sierra starts her hike
Sierra wanted to wear her snowshoes and seemed exited to hit the trail.
Sierra and Noelle
However, it seems like her energy quickly wanes in the snow and soon enough she was lying in the snow and begging to be carried.
laying down in the snow
We took off her snowshoes and I carried them. Still, Sierra needed some extra motivation. We buried her in snow for a bit
buried in snow
and then ended up playing hide-and-seek as we went along the trail.
The promise of hot chocolate was the last bit of motivation needed to get Sierra moving to the end of the trail.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

Today Mom and Dad gave Noelle and I the use of their car and so we took full advantage and headed out on a beautiful fall day for some adventure! We were headed to Millville, New Jersey and the Nature Conservancy managed Maurice (pronounced Morris) River Bluffs Preserve.

It was a short drive to the preserve. We hit the trail immediately after our arrival. We would basically hike every trail in the preserve by making a right turn at all trail intersections. We headed into the forest and found some interesting looking fungi.
colorful fungus
Then we headed through a meadow and picnic area to our first overlook of the Maurice River.
1st view
We admired the view through the trees and then continued on, soon arriving at the ruins of an old stone house.
ruins door
We then continued on a section of trail that appeared to be an old road
hiking Noelle
to an area where there was a dock that led out onto the river. We went out on the dock and looked around.
Noelle overlooking Maurice River
It appeared to be pretty good eagle habitat, but we didn't see any eagles. We would hear an eagle call later on in our hike though.

The next sections of trail we hiked passed close to the bank of the river offering some great views out across the water.
Maurice River overlook
Near one overlook grew a tree with what appeared to be a section of railroad trail sticking out of it.
trail track sticking out of tree
We came to another old road that led down to the river.
Another river view
We admired the view
pilings in river
from an illegal campsite there
and noticed some old, rusty rings embedded in the rock.
old rings
Were they vestiges of logging from long ago? Nearby was a set of large concrete basins.
concrete tank
Later on we would find concrete supports. These discoveries made me curious about past use of these lands. After reaching a flowing water spigot,
the trail curved around and started to lead us back to the parking area.

Our adventure for the day was not done yet though. I had done some research and found what looked to be a great place for lunch. We made the drive over to Vineland and Outlaw's Burger Barn. The food at Outlaw's did not disappoint. I got the En Fuego with turkey and it was great. Noelle got the Barn Burger. We both agreed that we would go back to Outlaw's. After lunch at Outlaw's, we headed to downtown Millville to kill some time. We weren't all that impressed with Millville. There was a nice walk along the river, but some shady characters hanging around. Finally, it was time to head out to the last stop of our day out the Glasstown Brewing Company at the airport in Millville. We sampled some delicious beers at Glasstown. We both enjoyed the Big Breakfast Coffee Maple Porter. We got a few ales to go and headed back to Mom and Dad's.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area

Today we finally got a chance to visit the infamous Higbee Beach. I say infamous, because up until a few years ago it was known as the "nude beach." Not any longer though. Today its better known as a great place to do some birding. And so, even though we would be arriving much too late to see some good birds, we brought our binoculars along; just in case. It was a short walk to the beach on a sandy trail.
trail to beach
Noelle and I left Sierra with Pop Pop and Ta Ta to run around,
Sierra runs on the beach
while we headed into the scrubby forest to walk and look for birds.
Noelle hikes
Unfortunately, we didn't see much in the forest. Still, it was nice to get out and walk.

Eventually we made a our way out to the beach
gnarled trees
and walked the beach past some interesting looking maritime forest,
maritime forest
back to the rest of the family. We spent some time together enjoying the sand and wondering what the mysterious half-submerged object was just offshore.
weird structure
Soon enough the Cape May - Lewes Ferry came in
and I walked over to the jetty to watch it come into port.
Then we headed out after a glorious morning.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge: 2 Mile Beach Unit

It was a cool but sunny morning and Noelle, Sierra, Mom and I decided to take advantage by heading out for a walk at the Two Mile Beach Unit of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. We made the short drive from my parents' house and headed out for our walk. We brought our binoculars along, just in case we spied some interesting birds.

From the parking lot we walked a short path through the dunes
dune and closed sign
to the beach and passed some pretty pink flowers in bloom along the way.
pink flower 2
Then we retraced our steps and found another, longer trail. The longer trail also led to the beach,
dune walk
walking to beach
view from the dunes
but along the way we saw some goldenrod in bloom with lots of insects on it.
insect on goldenrod
We retraced our steps back to the car where we ate a snack. Then we headed out on a boardwalk
walking boardwalk
that led to a wetland area.
view from bird blind
We saw lots of aquatic birds swimming around in the waters of the wetland and got to use our binoculars a bit. Then we headed back
Sierra on boardwalk
to yet another trail. This trail followed an old road through the dunes.
Noelle walks trail
We passed several butterflies along the way,
another butterfly
including a beautiful common buckeye
common buckeye
and a monarch.
monarch on goldnrod
We passed an off-limits area used by the Coast Guard
Coast Guard installation
and then hit the beach.
Noelle and Sierra walk to beach
The beach is closed at certain times of the year to protect piping plovers, but its open right now and so we decided to walk the beach back to the car.

We saw lots of gulls on the beach,
herring gull
but not much in the way of other birds. There were also some interesting shells. We found 2 whelks,
whelk shell 1
Mom and whelk shell
some razor clams,
Sierra and shell
jingle shells, and lots of others. It was a great way to spend a fall morning. After our walk we headed over to Wawa to get some lunch; hoagies and Tastykakes.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hiking the Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club Trails

Originally we had planned on taking the canoe out for one last paddle. It was pretty chilly this morning though, and so instead we opted to try hiking at some ski trails on the Fort Frances side of the international border. After crossing the bridge Sierra got to spend some of her Tooth Fairy money at Betty's. Then we got lunch at the Harbourage, before heading across the Noden Causeway to trailhead.

We didn't know much about the trail system here, so I was afraid that it would be a swampy mess. However, it turns out that the club maintains a hiking trail and that's where we started.
Sierra hiking
Right off the bat we saw a curious squirrel.
red squirrel
There were mushrooms everywhere!
mushroom on log
more shrooms
The trail led to a photogenic beaver pond.
Noelle and Sierra at overlook
beaver pond 2
There was a picnic table there. Had we known we probably would have brought a picnic lunch with us. There was some aster blooming near the pond's edge.
After a short break at the beaver pond we moved on
Sierra and Noelle hiking
passing a huge cairn.
Eric and Noelle at cairn

Eventually the trail split. We took the branch to the right and shortly after intersected a ski trail. The ski trail was relatively dry and we hiked it
running ahead
with a few views through the trees out to Rainy Lake. We stopped to rest on a big flat rock
resting on rock
and then hiked the ski trail back to the car.
walking again
It was an interesting hike and a place we hope to return to once snow covers the ground. They have both ski trail and snowshoe trails, so if nothing else we may come back to snowshoe.