Exploration Guides

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A Bit of Snow

Friday night, there was no snow on the ground in southeast Michigan. Things changed a bit on Saturday. Up to 14″, depending on where you live.  The blue sky makes it look too inviting to not go out exploring.  Just remember to dress warm.

Kensington Trail After Snow

November 22, 2015 Posted by | Trail reports | Leave a Comment

The Advantages of Exploring in the Fall

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a huge fan of fall or winter, in general, but there is, however, one, distinct advantage to this time of year. From the time in early fall, when the undergrowth has largely died down, until there’s heavy snow, then again from the time the snow melts until the undergrowth takes over, it’s the best time to look for new ruins in forested areas.

In the winter, everything buried under snow. In mid-summer, it can sometimes seem it’s buried just as deep in mosquitoes, and it’s just as hidden with undergrowth. You can still go explore your world, of course, and you should, but time time of year, it can be a little easier to spot new things.  This weekend, while hiking in Ortonville State Recreation Area, some friends and I found this.

stone wall at ortonville

It’s a little hard to see, unless you zoom in, but once you do, you’ll see the remains of a stone basement wall.  We found two basements I hadn’t seen before, and part of a car body, too, all in places I’ve repeatedly walked by in spring and summer without even noticing them.


And don’t forget, your first chance to see Rediscovering Edsel Ford’s Haven Hill will be on Wednesday at 6pm at Hartland’s Cromaine Library, in downtown Heartland.  Following the film, I’ll be answering questions on Haven Hill, archaeology, and filmmaking.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | hiking, Trail reports, video | Leave a Comment

Time For Some Changes (In Your Pack)

I’m afraid it’s true. Summer does seem to be coming to an end, after all. While a chance of season brings up a whole new set of trails to explore, it also brings some new requirements for your pack.

Your can lose the bug spray, if you have any left. You don’t want that stuff to freeze, anyway. Just save what’s left for next year.

Sunscreen may need to stay in your pack for winter, depending on where you’re hiking. Come spring, though, throw it away and buy new. It only lasts a year or two before it starts to break down and become less effective.

Space blankets are in. They’re light. They’re cheap. They take up almost no space. They can save your life, or at least make a miserable hike only an uncomfortable one. There’s no reason to not carry one or two in the winter (and summer, really, since they keep the sun off you in the summer).

Every cold-weather pack needs a chemical heat pack or two, too. These used to be fairly expensive, but now they’re only a buck or two. You can get small ones to slip into your gloves, or larger ones for pockets. Like sunscreen, these expire, too. Check for an expiration date and, if you don’t find one on the package, throw it away and buy some new ones for this winter. Don’t worry. They’re generally nothing more than iron powder, and maybe a bit of salt, so they’re non-toxic, but as moisture and oxygen seep through the plastic over a period of months, they do degrade.

Extra water ALWAYS belongs in your pack, of course. You should drink as much in the winter as you do in the summer. A good guide is 0.5 – 1.0 liters per hour while hiking.

And, of course, if you’re not wearing your waterproof, windproof shell, it needs to be in your pack. Same goes for hat and gloves.

Now get outside and enjoy the trails.

October 3, 2015 Posted by | hiking, Trail reports | , | Leave a Comment

New finds at Haven Hill

I spent a couple years actively exploring Haven Hill with a couple friends. That project fell apart, but now I’m back and working on a video documentary of the site. Amazingly, we’re still finding new stuff! We found a new building foundation a few weeks ago and, after getting a bit more information up at the state archives earlier this week, today we found remains of the ski slopes set up for the Fords (and later added onto).

No release date for the documentary yet, but we are making slow, steady progress.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Trail reports, video | , , , | Leave a Comment

Best time for a slippery log crossing

Best time to cross a slippery, unstable log over a bottomless pit of mud? When carrying a ton of expensive, not waterproof, electronics.

Second best time? When carrying those same electronics, but when it’s still light out.

Oh, wait a minute. Did I mean worst, not best? Oh well. Did both today, successfully, while filming for our upcoming documentary.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Trail reports, video | Leave a Comment


Saw this little guy (ok, big for a crayfish) trying to climb the Haven Hill Dam a couple weeks ago. He was almost up to the vertical part of the spillway when he lost his grip and fell back to the bottom, where we lost track of him. There’s still a bit of warm weather left to get outdoors and explore, and, of course, fall colors, so get outside and enjoy before everything’s covered in ice and snow (then go out and explore that, too, of course).


In other news, serious video work beginning soon on our first full-length video documentary. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

October 1, 2014 Posted by | animals, Trail reports, video | , | Leave a Comment