It quit raining shortly and I barely got wet, most of the showers were while I was in a dense wood section. It was a good warm up ride after my mini getaway up north and this was my first opportunity to ride in many days. That combined with today's temps being high in comparison to what we've been having and I just returned from a Upper Peninsula trip where the temps were unseasonably cool even for up there. To give an idea of what the difference in latitude represents, we had lilacs blooming in early May around Mother's Day. Lilacs were just now in bloom up there for Father's Day so they are about a month behind us, weatherwise.
My short excursion north was for a conference for the school board of the Charter Academy that I serve on. Our authorizing agent is Lake Superior State University and they are located at the tip top of Michigan's Upper Peninsula at Sault St. Marie on the US side. There is a sister city across the waterway that separates us from Canada in that region. This region is where Lake Superior goes into the St. Mary's River and that empties into Lake Huron. The Soo locks, as they are known, are located there and our group had a dinner boat cruise tour of the locks and passage through them. Last year when I went up for the conference I visited the visitors center for the Soo Locks and learned all about their construction. It is a modern engineering feat and has opened up an important inland waterway on the Great Lakes for commerce worldwide. While we toured the locks by boat this time we passed a Chinese freighter. Iron ore is mined out of Iron Mountain and copper from Copper Harbor, the iron ore is brought to a huge steel mill at Sault St. Marie for processing and production. The 40,000 pound bales of coiled steel are loaded onto freighters bound all over the globe. A freighter needs 6 days for going from Lake Superior through the St. Mary's River into Lake Huron, then through the Detroit River into Lake Erie, up the Erie Canal and through the St. Lawrence Seaway out into the open ocean of the Atlantic.
I went up a day early and used the trip as a recognizance for another trip I am planning with a friend. We are going to ride from Charlevoix to Mackinaw City, hop the ferry and ride Mackinaw Island. That ride will get us around the "tip of the mitt." and in the process we will pass through the tunnel of trees along Lake Michigan's eastern shore. There was spectacular scenery and vistas overlooking the lake. It should be a fun ride.
Indian Springs Metropark has a lot of amenities including a golf course, spray zone, plenty of play areas and picnic areas and an educational/interactive building and grounds that have walking trails through various areas of swamp (on elevated boardwalks and walkways) and other educational opportunities and kids camps. The paved bike trail is mostly flattish to slight rolling hills with one significant climb. The ride starts out with a 3/4 mile descent and you need to climb that to return to the trailhead parking lot. Right near the beginning of the trail I found this sign. I listened well and stayed on the trail, only venturing off pavement in closely mowed areas.
Indian Springs is in the northernmost area of the Huron River Watershed and just above the headwaters of the Huron River which meanders along eventually emptying into Lake Erie. . A watershed is a high area or ridge that usually separates major river systems. I have lived in the watershed for much of my life and my bicycling takes me to many trails throughout it's mid section. I have just recently began exploring trails in the upper reaches and hope to explore the trails of the lower reaches of the watershed yet this summer. Even with having moved some long distances during my life, I have remained within it's borders as it spans over 900 square miles. No wonder it seems like I am always pedaling along next to it's shores, whether I am riding in Milford or 50 miles south in Ann Arbor! A link to the Huron River Watershed Council can be found here along with a wealth of information about this important waterway. A link to a map of the geographical area that the watershed covers can be found here and here. I liked the trail and park so much that I expect that I will be a return visitor. The more time I spend bicycling along the shores of this major river system, the more I am learning about the ecology of the whole region. As a kid growing up I lived in the Rouge River watershed, another large system that empties into Lake Erie. A map of the rivers of southeastern Michigan that empty into Lake Erie can be found here.