Precious red berries dangling over river

Precious red berries dangling over river

The marsh beckoned us as we drove south of Houghton.  We decided on an outdoor adventure along US 41, after a rather mediocre Chinese lunch and three errands at local stores.  I had walked this boardwalk last fall, but Barry never wandered along the shores of the Pilgrim River before.  We said goodbye to the car, wondering if we needed boots for snow, and started out.

No boots were necessary.  Almost all the snow had melted away.  We barely reached the river’s edge when I saw them:  the prize red berries hanging out over the rushing river.  Of course I had to leap off the boardwalk, maneuvering perilously close to the river, attempting to get as close to the berries as possible.  (You all know how much I love those berries, don’t you?) 

Clouds reflected in the river, with the Portage Canal up ahead

Clouds reflected in the river, with the Portage Canal up ahead

The boardwalk leisurely maneuvers on both sides of the river.  First the walker may attempt to follow the right-hand side down to the Portage Canal.  If you re-trace your steps back to the bridge and walk up hill a short while, you can meander down to the canal on the left-hand side of the river.

Oh it’s lovely to visit a marsh!  Especially when one is dry atop the boardwalk, skimming over the swampy areas.  The river rushes out to the canal, brown and blue and fierce.  All around cattails and alders and dried grasses wave in the breeze.  The temperature today settled between 45-50 degrees which translated into warm when the sun shone, and cool when it disappeared beneath the clouds.  Barry took off his coat, then put it on again.

A steelhead fisherman plies the river

A steel-head fisherman plies the river

A lone fisher-fellow tossed his bait out into the quick-moving river, attempting to lure steel-heads from the depths.  I’m sure Barry wanted to join him in seeking the elusive fish.  Instead, we walked and shared memories of childhoods playing in marshes.  There’s a trick to walking in swampy areas.  You have to step from elevated grass patch to elevated grass patch.  If you miss…you get soaking wet feet.  Fortunately, today we stayed dry on the boardwalk.  Except when one of us grabbed the camera and dove for the elusive photograph. (But, our feet stayed dry!)

Waves of swamp grasses

Waves of swamp grasses

Do you see the undulating waves of swamp grasses?  The bump-formations arise after a winter of heavy snow lying upon the grasses.  We took at least a dozen photos of the swamp-grass bumps from twelve different angles.  Barry jettisoned from the boardwalk and took a magnificent photo of the grasses up close.  However, we both decided the overall vista shows more of what the land actually looks like. 

Fishing pole holders await fishermen

Fishing pole holders await fishermen

It really was a lovely afternoon.  I love it when you do something different, something unexpected.  How often have we driven past this particular wetlands, also known as the Nara Nature Park, without stopping?  It’s so often worth it to step out of the ordinary routine, to try new walks, new vistas.  I hope we stop again, perhaps in the summertime, to see the wildflowers and leaves and grasses.

Here is the elusive trout lily, the leaves just beginning to unfurl and burst forth from the earth:

Trout lily leaves.  No flowers blossoming yet.

Trout lily leaves. No flowers blossoming yet.

We drove through Chassell on the way home.  There’s the oddest sight south of Chassell.  Someone has placed a snowmobile in a giant trap, dangling way above the road, outside a local business.  We’ve stared at this, puzzled, for months.  What in the world…?  There’s a t-shirt hanging below it that says something like “Trapping in the Upper Peninsula” or “Trapped in the U.P.”, I’m not sure which.  We had to stop and get a photo, just to show you.  What do you think of this? 

Snowmobile in giant trap.  Honest.

Snowmobile in giant trap. Honest.

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