Up North Blog

Port Oneida Ski

On Sunday, my family and I skied across some beautiful secret terrain in the most difficult to get to sections of Port Oneida Historic District. We dropped our car off on Port Oneida Road and then climbed into our truck and drove four miles to a spot between Bass Lake and Narada and skied some woods and hilly fields east of M-22. The snow was perfect for making gentle turns through the junipers and wild cherry trees.

Then, the boys and I went to cross Narada Lake by the beaver dam on the north side and Steph saw some open water and said, “No way.” Nobody could argue with this, so we detoured along a branch of Shalda Creek ’til we came to a narrow ice bridge covered with so many animal tracks it was like a highway. We crossed safely and headed down a thin stretch of high land surrounded in swamp. Then we came to this stunning white pine glade so secret and beautiful, I pulled my camera out to capture the two speedsters picking their way through the endless pines taking over what was a field when I was a boy.

After the pine glade, we cruised through a hardwood forest. I shared with the family how astounding it is that this old two track is still clear of trees after 40 years. They were unimpressed and maybe they are right — all these old trails should disappear. Or maybe they were just tired of skiing up that long incline and didn’t want to talk?

We had been skiing hard for a long time and we were all hot and sweaty. I caught Steph taking a “water” break.

And here is Hawthorn guzzling down some icy H2O as well. I caught him in an old severely excavated field north of Basch Road. The broken ground was great soil for white birch trees, which were outstretched across these fields in full splendor.

Here is Hawthorn circling by another beautiful white birch with fun drops to race down in every direction he looks.  We all took a break from our trek and had the best time racing down these steep birch covered hills.

I caught Colebrook for a rare photo. He is so fast, the only photos of him I ever seem to take are of his back! Check out those birch trees!

A favorite attribute of Port Oneida and northern Michigan overall is the variety of landscapes. We went by lakes, swamps, rivers, hardwood hillsides, cedar forests, white pine glades, and this old red pine plantation that frames Hawthorn in columns so even they could be from a church. This is a great example of the precision so typical of the German residents who lived here long ago.

Colebrook checking out the ghostly old Basch farm off of unplowed Baker Road.  I can imagine what he’s thinking while studying it as I’ve told him so many stories of how my friends and I would scare each other senseless sneaking into this abandoned house late at night when I was a boy. Thanks goes out to the organization Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear and their work fixing up this stately homestead. It is looking great and so are these beautiful fields surrounding it.

That’s the last good photo I have on what ended up being a four hour ski.  But I do have this fun photo of us having Cheese Fondue for dinner to celebrate a big day on the snow.

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