By Angie Jackson
Nature enthusiasts from across the state gathered in Presque Isle County Feb. 5 for a breathtaking snowshoe hike.
“It’s interesting to see people coming from various areas to learn about a geologically-unique area in northern Michigan,” Michigan Nature Association Stewardship Coordinator Andrew Bacon said. “We had a lot of fun playing and falling in the snow.”
Bacon led the event at Mystery Valley Nature Sanctuary and Karst Preserve, which stretches 76 acres and is cooperatively owned and cared for by MNA and the Michigan Karst Conservancy.
The outing introduced participants to the special natural area and the trail system that was installed this past summer, and then afforded them their first look at the sanctuary in the winter.
MNA member Paul Petiprin and his wife Joyce made the trip from Bay City. They frequently travel to national parks across the country, and they said the outing opened their eyes to the natural beauty that is close to home.
“We’ve discovered that much of what we look for is here in Michigan,” Petiprin said. “There are a lot of different places we haven’t been to that now we can and will visit on our own.”
The group, ranging from beginners snowshoeing for the first time to advanced, trekked two miles and observed Mystery Valley’s stunning geologic formations. Petiprin said he enjoyed learning about the Thunder Bay River and the large sinkhole’s interesting history.
“It’s really astonishing how the hydrology of the site was altered about 100 years ago from the dam that shifted, and now most of the water flow goes out to Thunder Bay,” Bacon said. “It used to go out the sinkhole and then it just disappeared—which is how Mystery Valley got its name.”
After three hours of exploring the sanctuary, participants said they were cold, but thoroughly pleased.
“What we enjoyed the most was meeting other people with similar interests and being outside in the winter,” Petiprin said.
The next MNA winter hike is Saturday, Feb. 12 at Keweenaw Shore and Upson Lake Nature Sanctuary in Keweenaw County. RSVP with the MNA office at 517-655-5655 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about MNA winter events and how to get involved, view our event calendar.