Spring Surprises 2018

So… how about this weather!?

Although this weekend was full of braving a boat ride across Lake Huron and staying out of the horrible weather as much as possible, last weekend was full of island hiking, and I decided to explore around Sugar Loaf and see everything else along the way:

The lighthouse passage as seen from the top of Fort Hill


The Mackinac Bridge at sunset
More lake ice at sunset

There are a few Mackinac Island landmarks that are fairly close to each other, so whenever I visit one, I try to visit all three… Fort Holmes, Sugar Loaf, and Arch Rock. Being a resident who lives downtown however, I don’t always realize how much more snow is in the middle of the island. I walked up Fort Hill, strolled behind Fort Mackinac, and proceeded to hike along one of the trails towards Sugar Loaf, when I quickly realized that none of these trails had been touched and were covered in a good half foot of  thick snow. But I had made it up that far so, why not keep going?

Here you can see my lone footsteps in the snow, and a tree that had fallen into a very interesting spot!

At every intersection I tried to calculate how much further I had to go and kept telling myself that I was so close. Also, knowing that arriving at Sugar Loaf would be so worth it, I kept trudging along until finally, I was there!

It’s a pretty big rock! I know lots of people try to climb it, even though you aren’t supposed to… my older half sister once climbed it back in the 70s and she somehow got stuck! She had to get pulled out by the local firemen. Anyway, there’s a small path that you can walk around it, but I decided to rest my feet and just take pictures from the road.

I then realized that I chose to visit the landmark between Arch Rock and Fort Holmes… and not wanting to go one way just to backtrack the other way and trudge in more snow than I needed to, I decided that I would skip Arch Rock this time around and head towards Fort Holmes. So, I made my way up to Lookout Point (which I had to do very carefully up the snowy, slightly slippery stairs!) and took one final look at Sugar Loaf:

The road to Fort Holmes had a clear path and I was able to walk fairly normally the rest of the way! It also happened to be a beautiful, sunny day to take a clear pic:


And one more picture to share… yesterday as I made a short trip to St. Ignace and back, there were two freight boats parked just outside the island, waiting out the crazy winds we’ve been having. Unfortunately I didn’t have a nice camera on me so this one I took with my phone, but I still think it’s worth the share! Considering that the winds picked up even more today, I’m guessing they’re still sitting out there… or if they moved, they didn’t get very far!


I hope everyone is having better weather than we are, and here’s hoping that Spring actually decides to show up soon!

~ Heather

Pine, Parties and Poker Runs

It’s the perfect weekend for some festive Mackinac activities!

This weekend was the annual winter festival on Mackinac Island. Being the overworked secretary/teacher/candymaker that I am, I completely skipped out on Saturday’s activities, but heard that the kids all had an amazing time playing games at Turtle Park. I did, however, spend some time with Chelsea Berkshire planting boxes for her scavenger hunt. The kids had to figure out clues to find the hidden boxes at different checkpoints around the island that included Skull Cave, Fort Holmes, and Point Lookout, among other places. We had a fun time planting them all and almost stayed out there with them when Chelsea’s snowmobile wouldn’t start back up! Fortunately a dray went by and helped us out. I love the friendliness of this place…

The view of Sugar Loaf from Point Lookout
The view of Sugar Loaf from Point Lookout
Walking down the 144 steps from Fort Holmes. It helps to have a big pair of gloves and your snowmobile helmet in this kind of weather!
Walking down the 144 steps from Fort Holmes. It helps to have a big pair of gloves and your snowmobile helmet in this kind of weather!

Instead of going to the park on Saturday, I decided to take care of some loose ends downtown, and also had time to shoot some photos as I was driving around, most of which I see on my commute to work.

Some snowmen up in Harrisonville
Some snowmen up in Harrisonville
A trail up on 7th street takes me from my home to a back road that gets me to work
A trail up on 7th street takes me from my home to a back road that gets me to work
Driving to work
Driving to work
As I turn the corner, I always pass by the Governor's summer residence
As I turn the corner, I always pass by the Governor’s summer residence
Passing behind Fort Mackinac
Passing behind Fort Mackinac
Almost there... the view from East Bluff this past Sunday
Almost there… the view from East Bluff this past Sunday

My day usually consists of me driving to Ste. Anne’s church for work in the morning, then heading through town to get to the school in the afternoon, and if need be, stopping by at May’s Fudge Shops in between to send out orders. Some days I stop by the school first, or maybe I’ll stop by the fudge shop first, but any way that I go, I know the commute will always be an interesting sight!

Driving by Windermere Park with a view of the Round Island Lighthouse Passage
Driving by Windermere Park with a view of the Round Island Lighthouse Passage
Down on the boardwalk... ice!
Down on the boardwalk… ice!
And finally parked at the Mackinac Island Public School. At the end of my day, I find myself looking at this kind of sunset...
And finally parked at the Mackinac Island Public School. At the end of my day, I find myself looking at this kind of sunset…

On Saturday night, there were festivities going on at the school for kids of all ages, and I spent some time there setting up the sound system for them. Once all was finished, I was heading out the door when I received an invitation to a bon fire just at the end of the boardwalk… and I certainly wasn’t one to turn down an invitation to some heat! The fire was big, and sitting on just the right side made my face hotter than hot. It was the first time all weekend that I really felt the warmth of Mackinac.

mackinac island gal blog bon fire boardwalk

There were even islanders there cooking up food on skewers and passing around for everyone to eat. I was offered a chair and quite possibly the best seat in the house, that is, until several men decided to throw a pine tree into the fire…

mackinac island gal blog pine tree fire

We quickly realized that the pine tree wasn’t the best of moves, and, even though it smelled fantastic, at least half of us left for a warmer venue.

The next day, I decided to make my way over to the Sunday brunch at school (which was delicious!), and look around at all the auction items and bake sale. There was so much offered and I really thought that I could win some of the silent auction items that were out, but instead I volunteered to help a friend run the last half of the poker run table so that she could catch one of the first planes off the island for the day. Being a poker player myself, I didn’t think it would be that difficult to keep track of everyone’s hands, and the game seemed like a lot of fun. Contestants started off by choosing one blue card from the table, then had to drive around Mackinac Island at 4 different checkpoints to pick up 4 other cards. At the very end of their trip, they would have to come back to pick up their last red card from the table, and whatever hand they could make out of their 6 cards would be counted.

View from the poker run table
View from the poker run table

There ended up being quite a few full house hands which were the highest of the day, and 4 prizes were given out. It was fun seeing everyone come in and choose their cards. But I suppose if I would’ve had the chance to play, no one would stand a chance…

mackinac island gal blog ace

Hiking Mackinac

Don’t you just love Michigan weather!? Last week we had piles of snow – this weekend, it’s almost nonexistent. With the warmer weather upon us, my friends and I took the opportunity to take a hike around Mackinac Island. I was pretty psyched about getting some fresh, spring air in my lungs, and hoped for some good shots of the surrounding nature. I also realized that I hadn’t gone letterboxing in quite some time, and immediately geared up to find some boxes!


If you are unfamiliar with letterboxing, it’s an outdoor pastime that combines navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a treasure hunt style outdoor quest. It’s actually very similar to geocaching – in geocaching, one is given latitude and longitude coordinates to find a hidden box where one can log in by signing a sheet and trading items within the box. With letterboxing, instead of coordinates, you receive clues that lead you to a box where one logs in with rubber stamps. Making your own rubber stamp is fairly easy, and a lot of fun when finding other creative stamps too! We set out to find two specific letterboxes, and found both.

Afterwards we decided to step up on our hiking and took a couple of trails and stairs that led us to Sugar Loaf. I was here earlier in the winter when no one had yet disturbed it in all of its snowy glory… this time, it looked as though some people had made their way here by foot, ski, and even snowmobile.


We made our way up Henry Trail towards Point Lookout, where we caught a glimpse of Sugar Loaf:


Then slowly made our way down the stairs. This was probably not our best idea, since the stairs were half wet and half covered in snow, therefore creating slimy, slippery stairs!

My friend, Myron, works for the island, and has been working very hard to clear the roads and trails of trees and branches that had fallen from last weekend’s snow storm. We actually lost a lot of lilac tree branches and some lilac trees because of all that heavy snow, which is incredibly unfortunate. Myron noticed a couple other branches at the bottom of the stairs, and cleared the way for us.


And finally… Sugar Loaf!


It won’t be long until all these barriers will be taken out for the summer!


Another thing I noticed along the way – the amount of litter left in the park. I brought a bag with me on our hike specifically for picking up empty bottles and trash. Every little bit counts!

I’m hoping that with this warm weather coming up that my friends and I might be able to take more hikes and more time to pick up litter as we go along.

Mackinac Island also hosts a Geocaching event, the 6th Annual Spring Fling, which takes place this year on the weekend of April 28th. Find out more about geocaching at www.mi-geocaching.org or www.geocaching.com. If you’re interested in learning more about letterboxing, please visit www.letterboxing.org or www.atlasquest.com