MNA Hike at Grinnell Memorial Sanctuary at Bare Bluff, Keweenaw County

By Nancy Leonard, MNA Stewardship Contractor

July 30, twenty-four of us gathered at the Grinnell Memorial Nature Sanctuary, known to the locals as Bare Bluff. The soaring pink rhyolite cliff is a familiar landmark for those who approach by water on the big lake and a popular destination for hikers looking for a challenge.

The plan was to approach the loop trail via the steep side, work our way up the cliff and then picnic on the very top of the bluff. When the group was given the option to take the gentler slope up and work our way down the steep side, the vote is unanimous, “No, let’s go up the steep route!” The youngest hiker was in his early thirties and the oldest just turned eighty. The first section of the trail was an old two-track and on private land.

The hikers stop for a much needed break along the trail.

We all discussed the overwhelming presence of spotted knapweed but thoroughly enjoyed the ripening thimbleberries and wild raspberries also in abundance. At the trailhead, now in the forest, hikers were given one last chance to opt for the “easy” way up. Once again there were no takers. As the trail wound its way to the base of the cliff wall, hikers were reminded to “Look up!”

Exclamations of amazement served as indicators when someone actually did look up at the soaring pink wall looming over us. Overhead we heard raptor’s screams and we were thrilled to watch two immature peregrine falcons glide along the cliff face. The birders among us debated, but the call of the birds settled the question.

As the trail began to work its way upward, the group easily divided into three. The folks out for a vigorous walk surged forward; some approached the upward climb with a bit of trepidation; and a third of us spent time searching out and identifying northern ferns that make their home here. We were rewarded with not only a ledge to rest upon but a lovely miniature garden of the delicate rock-loving Asplenium trichomanes. The more common Rock Polypody fern greeted us often along the way.

We made our way slowly upward through the steep cleft in the rock face. Each hiker chose his or her own rock or log to sit upon and rest a bit. All around us were northern lichens, mosses, and an almost tropical looking holly fern named Polystichumlonchitis. By the time everyone met at the top of the bluff, the most vigorous hikers found a picnic site with some shade and an incredible view of Lake Superior. It was a warm summer day and the view was clear for miles and miles toward the horizon. Old and new acquaintances alike shared food and conversation.

The hike had great views of Lake Superior

We finally agreed that it was time for the return trek that took us along the crest for a little while longer and then onto the gently sloping forest trail. Goodyear oblongifolia, one of the more common of the northern wild orchids, was beginning to bloom. The strange parasitic American Cancer Root was still in bloom. Reluctant to part ways, even after four hours of being together on the trail, many in the group met at a nearby resort for refreshment and the sharing of trail stories.

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Member Vote Overwhelmingly Approves Five Lakes Muskegon Land Trade

The results are in!

The members of the Michigan Nature Association have approved the proposed Five Lakes Muskegon land trade!

Voting closed August 15th. With 452 votes cast, more than 97% of the votes were in favor of the proposed trade, and less than 3% opposed.

Some of those who voted also passed along comments for and against the proposed trade, including;
• “Great idea.”
• “Well presented and negotiated”
• “Thank you for the excellent presentation”
• “Enjoyed rare plants, trade will make access better.”
• “I hope everything goes well in the land trade. Keep up the good work.”
• “Sad to see you give up any land.”

Now that our members have ratified the proposal the Five Lakes trade may proceed, and MNA staff is now actively working with our partners to finalize the exchange. The trade will join the currently bisected Five Lakes sanctuary into a single, larger piece of property, and will ensure that the core of the sanctuary will never be developed.

The vote on Five Lakes is a terrific display of the MNA membership in action. Throughout our nearly 60 year history, the members of the Michigan Nature Association have played a pivotal role in the organization’s success. In addition to providing generous financial support, MNA members guide our organization by electing our board of trustees, help us identify natural areas needing protection, volunteer countless hours helping us manage the thousands of acres we own, and (as in the case of Five Lakes) make important organizational decisions when the need arises.

The active involvement of our members is truly one of the great strengths of MNA. Without the generosity and willingness of our members to be engaged, we would not be the organization we are today.

Thank you, again, for all you do!