All too often we forget to stop and smell the roses. In this day and age, it is tough to “get lost” (metaphorically) when we are so connected to our cell phones and computers. It seems as though every hour of the work week is planned and filled with the same level of monotony day after day. Last weekend I set out on a hike to an unknown destination and followed a road less traveled, meandering through the mountains to the beat of my own drum. Get lost and ye’ shall find.
It Was Good To Catch Up
Moving to a new state is a thrill but at the same time it requires a number of tasks and chores you just have to get done in order to get settled in. We have to buy new furniture, house items, set up bank accounts, get a P.O. Box, switch your drivers license … the list goes on and on. The first month was filled with many of these tasks of which primarily took place on the weekends, leaving little or no time to get out and really explore.
Last weekend I decided to take a drive and headed out to a winding mountain road. I drove higher and higher until I dared not to go any further due to the muddy conditions and extremely deep ruts in the road. I found a spot to pull off the side of the road and headed out on foot with my backpack and binoculars.
Meandering The Mountainside
I started off not following an existing trail but instead, creating my own. My first intention was to shed hunt if the grass was not too high but it was pretty difficult to see more than 20 yards each way. It was a rather steep hillside filled with oak-brush and it had a fair amount of trails with deer sign. I made my way to the bottom and then started the trek back up. The thick oak-brush made it very difficult to keep a straight line and sometimes I would walk into a dead end wall, having no choice but to turn around and find a different route.
I finally made it back to the top of the ridge and decided to follow an old two-track that switchbacked through the heavy brush. After 20 minutes of hiking, I finally arrived at a clearing where I could overlook a smaller ravine and thought this would be a good spot to enjoy the rest of the evening. As I paused for a few moments, I caught movement of a mule deer buck on the far ridge and it appeared that he was moving to a high meadow in the distance. Then and there I decided to go further up the mountain so I put away the one beer I had until I found the perfect spot.
Now back on the trail, the brush had become less thick and I can start to see the meadow. About 10 minutes later it was like all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I knew I had arrived. The meadow was absolutely breathtaking, filled with wild flowers, grouse, rabbits and butterflies
As I continued along the path through the meadow I began to wonder where that mule deer went; I knew I was close. Just then I look over my shoulder and not 30 yards away stands the buck I had seen from across the ravine. We locked eyes for a few moments and then two other bucks rose from their bed right next to him. All three stood there watching me as I stood motionless. After a short time, I decided to snap a few pictures with my cell phone but they were blurry so I am not posting them.
Its amazing how close you can get to a mule deer without them spooking. In Michigan, a whitetail deer does not give you the time of day to get close and often all you see is a their tail bouncing through the woods before you even knew they were there. Mule deer are much more calm and do not run off at the sight of a human. I’m sure that will change in a few months during hunting season!
Stop And Smell The Roses
After a two hour hike it was time to take a seat and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounded me. I cracked a beer and soaked in the breathtaking views of the meadow and the mountain peaks off in the distance. The three mule deer were still in the bottom of the meadow, making their way to an evening bedding area.
What I enjoyed the most about this spot was neither the view of the mountains or wildlife. Oddly enough it was the stillness of the air and the silence that swept through the meadow. There were no sounds of cars, people or city hustle bustle. In that very moment it was me and the mountains. Nothing else.
There are very few places like that in Southern Michigan where you can get far enough away from civilization to have dead silence. I really don’t think it is possible in Michigan nowadays unless you head further north into some of the larger tracts of state land.
Much Needed Alone Time
When I left the truck I had no plans or a selected route of travel. I was taking in each moment as it came and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey to the unknown. We all need to step back and find peace in nature without all of the added noises, people and commotion that can often be found in the mix. Sometimes no plans are the best plans. Get lost and be free.