On the Trail – day 1

I spent most of last week getting ready, then hiking the Kal-Haven Trail. All 33.5 miles of it in three days. I’m a 54 year-old, slightly overweight, out-of shape woman and I thought that this would be a fun way to raise funds for our local community theatre. I’ve done some hiking in the last couple of years, but never this much at one time. I was determined to try, despite my shortcomings.

The week prior was cold and wet, not getting much out of the 40’s(F) and I was concerned that the weather during the week would be more of the same. Luckily, the weather got warmer, in the 50’s and 60 degrees, and it looked as though we would be walking during the peak fall color.

Day 1: approximately 13.5 miles – from Kalamazoo to Gobles.

The Kal-Haven trail is an old, abandoned railroad track that has been turned into a linear state park. It is used by hikers and bicyclists, mostly on weekends and during the spring and summer months. You can find out more about the trail here .

My hiking partner is a co-worker at the library who has had much experience in hiking, camping and the outdoor life in general. I felt it probably wasn’t a good idea, safety-wise to hike alone and she was kind enough to arrange her work schedule to come with me as my bodyguard. Thank goodness she was there to keep me going when I got tired and sore.

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The trailhead in Kalamazoo. I was told by a reliable source that the trail goes downhill from Kalamazoo to South Haven so I decided to take any little advantage I could by heading west towards Lake Michigan.


We’re ready to begin our adventure. My friend Maureen is the one on the right, she actually looks like she knows what she is doing. I’m the rank amateur on the left. We started out at about 8:45am.


Heading down the trail.


You just know that I spent most of the time trying to capture the color that was all around us.


After a cloudy morning, the clouds broke up around noon, showing a little sun and a warmer walk.


Even though it was a weekday, we met bikers throughout the day, and on all three days.


Maureen takes the lead as the bike passes by.


We begin to see evidence of the agriculture in the area. This is a field of feed corn, waiting for the harvesting machines.


It’s noon, and we’ve crossed a little stream. We think that it’s Campbell Creek, also known as Whiskey Run (but we’re not sure). There is a sign welcoming us to Van Buren County. 


Looking for trout.


Time for lunch.


Mr. Toad visits us while we’re eating.

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Maureen knows the names of the trees, the birds by their song, and lots of the plants along the trail. This vine is called a Virgin’s Bower Vine. It’s obviously related to a clematis.




Wow! Look at the fall color!


An old abandoned train depot. A reminder that we are hiking along an old railroad track.


We saw Woolly Bear caterpillars all over the place.  I kept trying to call them Woolly Mammoth caterpillars. What does it mean when you see an all black Woolly Bear?


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Walking through a golden afternoon.


A Christmas tree farm

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Arriving at the first day’s destination by 3:30pm, about 2 hours earlier than originally planned.  This is a small town called Gobles where a work friend picked us up to spend the night at her home.


Martha lives on this beautiful private lake, a kettle moraine formed by the glaciers; very deep and spring fed . Her grandfather originally bought property all along one side and eventually Martha, her sisters and children have all built homes here. She told us that it is just like the Kennedy compound, except without the wealth. The other side of the lake was made of wetlands and unsuitable for building. A good means to keep the lake a private lake.

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A bottle tree near her garden.


Her sister, who works with stained glass, made this window and Martha’s husband built the arbor for her son’s wedding.


Her small side garden, almost done for the year.


A handmade stone walkway thru her garden embellished with little colored glass.

I never really thought of Martha as being an artistic person, but as she gave us a tour of her house and yard, she showed us several beautiful items that she designed or made to decorate her home.

Martha and her husband fed us well and we both grabbed a hot shower, stretched out our sore muscles and fell into bed. My back seemed to be bothering me the most and Maureen had some pain in her hips. I was hoping that a good night’s sleep would ease the sore muscles.


About Jill-O

a girl who likes lakes, trees and critters; making an attempt at living the artistic life.
This entry was posted in autumn, goals, Michigan, nature, photos, weather and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On the Trail – day 1

  1. Catherine says:

    What a nice trail and such pretty scenery along the way. I love all the yellow leaves on the trees along the trail.

  2. Sue says:

    That’s a beautiful place to go for a walk! I enjoyed the story and photos of Martha’s place, too.

  3. I look forward to following your progress – you did well on the first day and you walked through beautiful country – the photos are lovely

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