Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Day at Van Riper

After we left Hog Island Point Thursday morning we headed north and west across the UP to Van Riper State Park. We didn't have to set up for the show until Friday afternoon and we were hoping to see moose. The chances were slim at best but it was a good excuse to get out into the woods.

The trail system at the park is not extensive but it passes through some great scenery. Here Lori and Lisa are ahead on the trail, on the lookout.

A short distance along and the main trail passes by Beaver Pond, where we did actually see beaver activity, although no beaver. For me this is a classic UP scene, true boreal forest full of evergreens, small lakes and ponds and a serenity one doesn't find in many places down state.

The area has been heavily logged and mined in the past, and the woods were quite young, but the mosses and lichens gave the woods an ancient feel.

Later in the day we took a walk along the Peshekee River, still looking for moose. About 15 years ago moose from Canada were relocated in the Michigamme area, and not two weeks before we were at the park a moose was seen down at the boat launch at the park. No such luck for us, but no matter--any excuse to get out in the woods!

On the trail along the river Lisa happened to look down and saw this feather, off the path and sort of under some shrubs. She picked it up thinking at first it was a vulture feather, but Lori quickly identified it as an eagle feather. This feather was about 16 inches long! What an exciting moment! We all held it, examined it, carried it for a while, then I took some pictures. It is illegal in Michigan to possess any feather except those of game birds, but it is a federal offence to possess an eagle feather--unless you're Native American.

On our way back down the trail, ol' Eagle Eye Lisa spotted the eagle's nest, across the river in a huge old white pine. The sun was setting behind the tree so I couldn't get any detail, but it's the big blob in the center of the tree. Eagle nests can weigh as much as 500 pounds, and I find it remarkable that the tree can support such a structure.
Even without any moose sightings it was a nice break, short as it was. Friday brought us back to reality, and we headed to Marquette for setup. It was cold and rainy much of the weekend so sales were slow, but we did OK, and got to stop at Seney National Wildlife Refuge on the way home Monday, but that will be for next time!

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