Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cougars, Beavers,Porcupines and Me

Although Oakland County is full of ooutdoor adventure, sometimes we need to wander north. And so, it was off to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (near Empire Michigan), the only location in the Midwest or East where the Federal Government has posted cougar advisory signs. Michigan DNR now also states what many have known or presumed for some time: cougars - call them mountain lions if you wish - roam a few locations of our state, staying mostly very out of sight. With that said, I am far more worried about drunk drivers, cell phone distracted drivers and unstable humans than I am about a cougar passing through our woods and treating  the dunes as a giant kitty litter box.  But safety is always good and being firearms dear season I outfitted my backpack with a lime green covering, covered my head with a blaze orange cap and trekked a ten mile loop with a tenting overnight at White Pines Campground where coyotes serenaded loudly and frequently adding a primeval touch of wildness to the foggy night.  Dawn brought evidence of fresh beaver activity along the shore of Otter Lake. Trees were being felled in abundance, as nature's greatest engineer raced the seasonal clock to stash away a rich underwater pantry of inner bark and young branches. But perhaps the most memorable encounter was right in the middle of the trail. A young porcupine was busy searching for whatever young porcupines search for when on the ground. Distracted by human presence it stopped, froze and then remembered, "Oh yeah, spin around and face the tail towards the enemy. " And that it did allowing me time to sit and watch and rejoice in a moment of sunny  wildness on the last weekend before Thanksgiving.


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