Chapel Loop Trail- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If you are searching for a wonderful day hike I would highly recommend the Chapel Loop Hike- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. This is a 10 mile loop with breathtaking views along the gorgeous lakeshore bluffs of Lake Michigan.

This was our first time hiking this trail and I am extremely thrilled to say #1 we made the entire 10 miles and #2 it will be repeated again! Here is what we did, where we stayed, and advice for anyone thinking about attempted this hike.

We drove from our home in WI and stayed the night in Munising, MI which is about 20 minutes from the trail head. Before leaving home, I contacted the park ranger and we discussed the black fly problem and bear precautions. He informed me that the black flies are normally gone by September but could linger depending on the weather. We purchased headnets to wear in the instance that these were still lingering although we never needed them. The only place we encounter them was when we were on the beach and they were not too horrible. As for bear precautions, as much as I hated spending $50 on a can of bear spray, I did it anyhow. My husband wore this the entire hike on the outside of his pack for easy access if needed. Thankfully, the only bear we saw was in the backyard of our hotel and I was safely inside our room looking out at this fine creature. I will say, however, that along the trail we did run into a few other hikers and backcountry campers whom all had their bear spray visible and ready also, so I felt a little safer knowing that we had ours too. Now, as for the trail….we arrived just before 8am Saturday morning and the parking lot only had a few cars in it. We used the bathroom facility, took a look at the maps, warnings, and such on the board and decided to head the direction of Chapel Falls.

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The first part of this trail was wide and went through big, beautiful forest.

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Not far in we heard Chapel Falls.

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Then we headed further towards Chapel Rock. This was really amazing.

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IMG_2533After Chapel Rock you will continue down the trail to Chapel Beach. This is also the location of the first campsite area for back country campers.  IMG_2547

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And an area that had restrooms. I was very thankful for this and I must say, this was one of the nicest signs I saw along the trail.

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When I came out I found my husband had stripped of his pack, shoes, and socks and was enjoying the cool waters of the lake.

IMG_2562 IMG_2559 After a nice break here we headed up further to Grand Portal Point. These few miles went by so quickly because the views we saw as we hiked the bluffs edge were just spectacular.  IMG_2568  IMG_2594

IMG_2589As you round the back side of Grand Portal Point you come to a very nice area for a break. At this point you are about half way finished.  IMG_2631

If you decide to sit and have a snack, watch your packs, critters are very friendly on this trail. We met this little fella begging for one of our almonds.

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As you make your way further you will see beautiful blue water, rock ledges, and what is known as Lover’s Leap Arch.  IMG_2522

IMG_2520This is all while hiking along the lakeshore on, at times, a very narrow path near the edge, caution is needed.Your next big stop will be at Mosquito Beach/Camp which is also camp area #2 for campers.We found this much more busy with tourists and moved pretty quickly through this area toward Mosquito Falls.  IMG_2650

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By this time we were getting pretty tired. The trail had turned from packed dirt, to sand, and these last few miles were loose rocks and tree roots causing huge tripping hazards it seemed. We slowed our pace to not injure ourselves and upon arriving at the falls my husband actually took his shoe off again to soak his foot for a bit. (Remember, he is recovering from a herniated disc that has left him with nerve damage in that leg/foot and ice cold water helps)  IMG_2661

While he did this I explored the area.

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IMG_2628All that was left after this was the parking lot. Which seemed to be miles from where we were but was actually only about another mile. When we arrived back at the parking lot I was completely speechless……….there were so many cars that they had started parking up both sides of the dirt road for almost an entire mile. My advice is if you plan to do any part of this hike arrive early. Very early.

We accomplished this 10 mile hike is just over 6 hrs, with two breaks for a snack and two rest periods in the water. After finishing for the day we returned to our hotel, ate dinner, and were both in bed by 7pm exhausted but extremely grateful for accomplishing this hike. It was wonderful!

My personal thoughts: I loved this hike, however, I am one that loves rock, bluffs, and waterfalls. If you are the same, then you should also enjoy this hike. There is a lot of different terrain here, nothing severe, but different throughout. Roots and rocks can be detrimental to toes so sandals would not be your best choice of footwear here. I thought the trails were very well marked until the last few miles. From Mosquito Campground until the parking lot they can be somewhat confusing so remember your trail map. And one last thing, because I know every female will appreciate this, yes you will find restrooms at the start, at Chapel Beach Campground, and at Mosquito Beach Campground HOWEVER bring your own TP!

NOTE: We did run into one trail hazard along the route and it was well marked and a detour has been made by the park dept. It only brings you off trail a few yards at most. Be careful.  IMG_2626

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Introduce Your Children To The Outdoors

It’s almost been a year since we took one of my daycare children on her first hike. She had always asked to join us but when a child is included hikes need to be geared toward their abilities and interests. At the time she was almost 2 1/2 so we knew this would not be a day to hike many miles, climb bluffs, or explore anything too difficult. That being said, this did not mean we could not all have fun being outdoors.

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She was excited, which in turn made us excited, and the key to everything was to make her feel like one of us. We had backpacks, so she needed a backpack, we had water bottles so she needed a water bottle, and so on.

Well, to this day I still hear stories about that hike from this child. She remembers everything from the items she found in the geocache bucket to the cookies we ate on the trail when we found the woolly bear caterpillar. It’s amazing and so rewarding to hear that she had so much fun at such a young age being outdoors.

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Which brings us to now, a year older. She has been asking lately if we are going to ever go hiking again and I keep telling her as soon as the snow melts we will. However, this year she has a much larger request for her dream hike. She has this hope to hike into a cave. (And she has no idea that her childcare provider dislikes bats) Not just look at the opening of a cave, nooooo, she wants to hike INTO it. She is going to bring her headlamp that we bought her for her birthday and go explore in this cave. She tells me it will all be fine, that we can hold hands and then we won’t be scared. How nice of her to offer to hold my hand. So, me being who I am, I have started researching caves nearby. I can only hope at this point that she chickens out at the cave opening when she she’s it, but if not, I may just try and convince her that my husband is a better cave explorer that I am and send her in with him. I will keep you all updated on this cave hike when it happens.

The message I am trying to get across is that at any age it is possible to introduce your children to the outdoors.(Here is a great example:a family with four children with two still in backpack carriers hiking)

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Keep it simple, age appropriate, let them have input on the adventure and make it fun. You will be amazed how much fun you will all have. For me there is nothing better than seeing families together enjoying the great outdoors.

 

 

Favorite Quotes

“Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.” – George Carlin

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

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“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

“Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

“Be the mom you want them to remember.” – Unknown

Whitewater kayaking with our son

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“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” –John Lubbock

“There are two gifts we should give our children: roots, and wings.” – Unknown

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”- Ed Viesturs

Angel’s Landing,Zion National Park, Utah

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“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”- Greg Child

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.” – Robert A. Heinlein

”You are afraid to die, and you’re afraid to live. What a way to exist.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Do you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears?  – Unknown

 

 

 

Amazing Trail Discoveries

The trail is normally a great escape for me. It’s a time to reset, enjoy nature, savor the peace and quiet of falling leaves, and just be in the moment. Unfortunately, even when I am on a trail I sometimes may run into something/someone that just takes me by surprise (besides a snake)!

Recently, a friend joined us on a hike and we came across a few of these “surprises” and I was quite happy to hear not only do they surprise me but others also.

  • Lack of people. We recently hiked two separate days a total of 7 miles on a very popular trail in a state park. The sun was high in the sky, temps were perfect and bugs were tolerable. It was also a weekend when you would expect most people out doing something fun. Don’t let me forget to mention, the campground at this state park was almost full. During these two days and 7 miles we came across a total of 13 people! I was shocked, I could not believe we ONLY saw 13 people in two days.
  • Flip flop hikers. Clearly they had the urge to hike but it was not in the game plan initially or they would have had better options for footwear. I could never pull this off but they did and I was impressed.
  • Trail maps. “YOU ARE HERE” may not always mean “YOU ARE HERE.” I have only hiked in a few states and WI is by far one that needs some work with their trail maps. Whether it be updating, repair or even placing the red star in the correct spot stating “YOU ARE HERE”, they just need some attention. I would highly recommend a GPS if you plan any elaborate hikes in the area.
  • Food taste better on the trail. Truth be told, I never thought I would ever consume a freeze dried meal. However, after a long hike, they are quite appetizing to say the least. I may even go as far and say that I even look forward to them.
  • Hikers texting. OMG, put your darn phone in your pocket and look up!!! You are missing the best part.
  • Smokers on the trail. This took me by surprise. This person was just ahead of us on the trail and instead of taking in fresh air we had to breathe second hand smoke. Happy…. I was not! Irritated…. extremely! The trail was not that long but apparently they just could not wait and had to light up before the hike was over.
  • Age groups we come across. This is my biggest shocker I think. Most hikers we come across are middle aged to older adults and I am just so happy about this fact. I think it is fantastic!!! We have so many people we know that we have tried to get to join us on fun hikes and everyone says the same exact thing…..they’re too old! I just wish they could see they really are not too old, because we see it on the trail all the time.
  • Kids exhausted. As scary as this is for me to see it is also very frustrating for me also. Kids should be able to do anything I can do and much more. However, we come across kids 10-16 years old that have to sit, rest, and simply force their bodies to hike further down a trail. What is happening to our youth?
  • Pack it in/Pack it out. Dispose of waste properly! This is what that means. Let me be more specific. If you carried it in with you, you also carry it out with you. If you did not find it on the trail, it does not belong left on the trail.
  • Strenuous/Moderate/Easy. This can mean different things to different people. Do your research and make sure it’s what you can handle.

Do you have anything you can add?

I would love to hear what you have come across while hiking.

Can you relate to any of mine?

A Chilly Last Splash Of Summer…What’s Next?

Fall arrived this week which is why we now have all our kayaks stored for the winter. That is not to stay our gear could not make another appearance this fall, however it is very unlikely. We were able to get to the river one last time this past weekend as a family. It was also our son’s first time on whitewater with his new kayak.

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The river was running higher than usual and it was quite a ride for us all. After being laid up recovering most of the summer this was a fantastic way to end the paddling season for him.

We now move on to camping, geocaching, and hiking. This is the best time for these activities in our area. There is not a lot of mud and water from melting snow like spring time brings. No knee high snow to walk through like during the winter months and not many bug, snakes, or heat/humidity to have to endure from the summer months. Believe me, our calendar is packed right up until Thanksgiving with anything I can possibly think of to do outside.

So until our scenery turns from this

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to this

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I will be switching gear from this

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to these

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and living life just as I plan, like this.

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I better be going, have a great weekend everyone.

 

 

 

My Favorite Form Of Exercise And Why

You all know I love to exercise. I do it everyday in some form or another. I do it for my health, to control my weight, to feel a sense of accomplishment but most of all exercise is a way for me to control stress and keep my sanity.

I spend countless hours caring for children during the week. This in itself can be very rewarding yet stressful. To relieve stress during my day, cardio is the way to go. This is usually a 30 minute bike ride during nap time on weekdays.

My most rewarding exercise at the gym would have to be the elliptical or ARC machines. They both seem to give me the best workout with very different results. I don’t feel I get much benefit from weight lifting other than keeping me strong and fit enough to keep up with the activities we do. However, I know they are good for me. I don’t dread doing them but I could easily pass them by if I knew I would not pay the price later on.

I do have to admit that even with everything I do, walking would have to be my number one go to form of exercise. It’s how I started my journey to a healthy lifestyle and it is still today my favorite thing to do. I could be walking a street, mall or a trail and be perfectly content to walk on forever. It does not matter if I am alone or with someone, I love to walk. When I am alone I have time to think. When I walk with my husband we can have a completely private conversation and not even realize we have walked a few miles. And when I walk with my daycare kiddos, it is non stop talking about anything and everything. It a great form of exercise that is easy to do anywhere at any age.

Tell me, what is your favorite form of exercise and why?

Random Thoughts…

Ahhh, it’s Friday and I have so many things running through my head that I am afraid it could explode. It has been a crazy week and I hope to have many things wrapped up by the end of the weekend. Hear is what I have on my mind…

Illness In Our Home Taking care of youngsters is normally a joyous experience until something like illness strikes. At this point I am in the “hoping it stays with one family and does not spread through all my families” stage of the game. Monday night my husband,son and myself spent the night cleaning every toy, bedding, and stuffed animal we have. Along with sterilizing highchairs, outside toys and everything else little fingers touch in our home. Here’s to hoping we got it all and we have a healthy week next week.

Vacation Plans This has consumed me for the past two weeks. I am making great progress and really hope to have it all wrapped up by Sunday. I keep thinking in my mind that I am actually resorting to buying warmth and sunshine in the winter months. I have always disliked winter but I never thought I would be one of those people that pay money to find warmth. Apparently I am.

Winter Gloves  I am ashamed to say, I bought a new pair of winter gloves this week. People, it is SEPTEMBER and I bought winter gloves. OMG, what was I thinking????

Weekend Plans This weekend we plan to take a trip up north to visit and celebrate my MIL’s birthday. Saturday hubby has to work as does our son. And hopefully we make it to a waterfall so our son can get some photography homework done in the meantime. Other than that no grand plans are set. It’s going to be a chilly weekend here so I am just hoping my boys don’t get the urge to kayak…then again…does that urge ever go away?

Workouts  I am pretty proud of all the workouts I achieved this week considering all that has been happening. We made it to the gym, walked over 15 miles the entire week, I did not miss a single afternoon workout, and even did one yoga session. I have not done yoga in a few months, so believe me when I say, sore was a good feeling:)

Panicked About Winter  I just can’t shake the thought that winter is going to be upon us so early this year. Thursday morning we woke up to a WINDCHILL!!!! I heard that on the news and wanted to shut if off. Don’t tell me about it yet, I am not ready. Maybe those winter gloves were not such a bad buy in September. Anyhow, my fall list of outdoor chores is written and hanging on the board. I better get at them before it snows.

Training Plan With our vacation plans coming together and a good idea of what we will be hiking I have been thinking about how we will train for this trip. Training and exercise are two totally different things in my eyes. I train to accomplish a goal. I exercise to keep my sanity. We trained for our Zion hiking trip and were so grateful we did. We were two of the oldest hikers in our group. We were also two of the only ones that did not live on vitamin I (Ibuprofen) the entire trip. I was proud of this. Which means I need to come up with a plan for this trip as well. We want to enjoy every second and not live to regret it for weeks after.

There you have. Everything important running through my head. Along with everything else I typically have on my mind, I sort of feel a little overwhelmed right now. If only I could see in that crystal ball and know what the future holds….then again I would ultimately just worry about the future too. So as life passes by I will just be patient and hope things all work out for the best.