Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Day hike at Bundy Hill Preserve

Happy 2017!  How did you begin your new year?  On New Year's Day, I woke up before 6:00AM and drove forty-five minutes to the Bundy Hill Preserve. In the pre-dawn twilight, I was joined by a group of other nature lovers for a sunrise hike.  Located in western Isabella County, the Bundy Hill Preserve is the newest property owned by the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy.  At approximately 1,270 feet above sea level, Bundy Hill is the highest point in Isabella County. 

From the parking area, a half-mile trail led us up and down over snow covered hills to the summit of Bundy Hill.  While most of Isabella County is flat or gently rolling, Bundy Hill is part of a glacial moraine that rises above the rest of the county.  The trail to the summit climbs about 150 feet from the parking area and can be a bit of challenge when covered with snow.

I took this photo in low light conditions while moving forward.  I think it's interesting.

Hikers climbing the first part of the slope.

The steep climb near the summit
We arrived at the summit just a few minutes before the sun peaked over the horizon.  This gave us the opportunity to explore.  Some of the group went west to a false summit that offers open views to the south.  The rest of the group remained at the peak.  While we waited for the sunrise, a few late arrivers trickled onto the scene.  By the time 8:09AM (the official time of sunrise) rolled around, there were fourteen people gathered at the top of Bundy Hill - with two more stragglers to arrive soon.

On the western summit

The main summit of the hill

Fortunately, we picked a good morning for the hike.  Right on schedule a brilliant reddish-orange sun rose on the eastern horizon.  The summit of Bundy Hill is surrounded by trees so we lacked a clear view of the sunrise, but it could be seen peeking through the trees.  The sun elicited all the appropriate oohs and ahhs from the crowd.  

The sun can be seen peeking through the trees on the right side of the photo.

Everyone smile!
Some of the happy hikers recorded the event with photos or videos; others were happy to just revel in the dawning of a new day and a new year.  A quick group photo with the sun in the background, and people began to trickle back down the trail to begin their day.  I lingered a while longer, taking photos from points along the trail.  

This was my second trip to Bundy Hill in less than a week.  Because I was leading the New Year's Day hike and had never visited the property before, I made an exploratory trip last Thursday just to check on trail conditions.  The highlight of that trip was seeing an immature Bald Eagle from the western summit.

Immature Bald Eagle (29 December 2016)

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