I did a nifty little hike today in a local swamp for a quick hour or two.
The swamp has a creek running thru it so I sometimes walked in the creek. I wore hipboots. It's neat how a creek can have a nice firm mud bed in the middle of a deep-muck swamp.
As soon as I stepped off the road I saw possy tracks, then I immediately saw a little possy rummaging by the creek. He looked up then went back to rummaging, as they do. Then I saw a coyote---black and brown, like a Belgian Tervuren dog, but I checked where he'd bedded and saw his in-line, ovoid non-domestic tracks. Then I saw some deer. Then, hiking along the creek/swamp I saw a set of very big mink tracks cruising along the creek---the tracks weren't snowed-in so they were from this morning. This was a cat-size mink. Lovely. I checked out a beech hillock in the middle of the swamp. I broke thru ice occasionally but had a walking stick. It's just shallow mud around here for most part. I did stay sensitive to the ice/muck. Basically my whole hike was within sight of a road. It's amazing how wild and pretty it was right when I stepped off the road. It was a gray day but there was lots to see. And some nice colors almost invisibly tucked here and there.
The scene had that special Michigan vibe: it's a mix I never get tired of. Swamp, water, cattails, pines, oak, birch, hillock, cedar. All in one stone's throw view. No big sky country but special in its own way.
I followed the swamp/creek to a bigger drainage ditch then followed that to a road and back to my car.
This swamp was among the prettiest and wildest back when I used to run my highschool trapline so I enjoyed revisiting it. It's still just as nice even though several meadow mansions have sprouted close by since then.
The old guy who owns the land is George Petrides, author of A Field Guide to Trees (Peterson/Audubon). He's an old Yosemite ranger and MSU forestry prof. Good ole guy. I bet he liked the idea of someone stopping to ask if they could hike his swamp in winter.