The Odyssey Visits Lawrence & Mary Bell Wade Memorial

By Dave Wendling and Tina Patterson

Lawrence and Mary Bell Wade Memorial Nature Sanctuary:  May 1, Tuesday

Thirteen people, including some new faces, joined us as we met up with sanctuary steward, Jim Slaghuis. Jim has had a part in Wade for most of his life, knowing both the history of the property as well as the many terrestrial and aquatic plants, birds, reptiles, and mammals who call Wade home. A unique feature of this sanctuary is that a small one room cabin is located not far from the entrance. Built about 50 years ago, it has been used by scouts and other groups throughout the years. In the cabin is a guest book that people sign and leave notes on their experience at the sanctuary. We made sure to leave a note about our Odyssey visit. Jim is planning to put a new roof on it this summer, as he continues to protect and improve this 72-acre property. A treat for the Odyssey hikers was a walk down a 30-foot bank to the shore of Silver Lake which we had seen from the ridge above.

Dave with a three-trunked tree

Dave poses with a three-trunked tree at Wade Memorial. Photo by Tina Patterson

In the Sanctuary Guidebook, this sanctuary is described as a beech maple forest. Indeed, there are numerous beech and maple trees here, but there are also many, many red oak and, of course, the northern hemlock that are found mainly along the ridge going down to the wetlands and Silver Lake. This would make these woods more of a mixed northern hardwood forest.  Much of the understory shrubs and wildflowers that we found here would help to confirm this.  There were not many of the typical beech-maple spring ephemerals, but we did find a lot of blunt-lobed hepatica and true Solomon-seal.  We also found wild sarsaparilla, flowering dogwoods (just past their prime) and a profusion of maple-leaved viburnum and witch hazel. The viburnum was in bud, and the witch hazel does not fully bloom until fall.  This makes me want to come back later in May to see all the viburnum in bloom and in October to see the witch-hazel.  This sanctuary is open to the public, so you can also come and see this!

Another thing that we noticed was that many of the large trees here have multiple trunks, especially the red oak and some of the beech and cherry trees.  This fits with the history of the woods being burned about 90 to 100 years ago with some of the trees resprouting with multiple trunks following the damage from the fire.  We saw one red oak with five large trunks!

To see more photos from our visit to Wade Memorial, visit MNA’s Flickr page.

As we continue on our Odyssey we will occasionally offer additional opportunities.   During the next segment we have another added bonus hike.   After our morning hike at Mystery Valley Karst Preserve and Nature Sanctuary on June 5, we encourage you to bring a brown bag lunch, after which we’ll head to the Peter Memorial Nature Sanctuary to look for the dwarf lake iris, the official flower of the MNA.  The iris should be in full bloom at this time. The rest of the next segment includes a visit to Kernan Memorial Nature Sanctuary on June 6 right on Lake Huron and Brennan Memorial Nature Sanctuary in St. Clair County on June 7. All three tours start at 10 am, and there will be 60th anniversary refreshments at the end of each tour.

As we pointed out before, we keep adding more to our Odyssey! On July 14, there will be a kayak tour of the Les Cheneaux Islands. We invite MNA members and friends to meet up for the kayak Ecotour offered by Woods and Water, at just $75 a person. For more details, see the MNA website or call the office. This will be the day before the hike at Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary. Plan a wonderful weekend with Dave and Tina on both the land and on Lake Huron.

If you would like MNA to coordinate a bus tour to the last two of our Odyssey hikes in the Keweenaw please contact the office, as planning needs to begin. Call (866)223-2331 and ask to speak to Laurie or Johanna.

For more Odyssey dates, visit the MNA website. We hope to see you there!

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About Michigan Nature Association

The Michigan Nature Association is a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to preserving Michigan’s natural heritage since 1952. MNA protects more than 10,000 acres of land in over 170 nature sanctuaries throughout the state of Michigan, from the tip of Keweenaw in the Upper Peninsula to the Indiana/Ohio border.

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