CHASSELL - Now that winter has finally reared its head, the outside activities can begin and the Michigan Nature Association has a platter of different events for the outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.
Nancy and Bill Leonard are the Keweenaw Peninsula organizers for the MNA and have been doing it for many years. Over the course of the next three months, snowshoeing, hiking and cross country skiing will be some of the events at various nature sanctuaries in which people can participate.
"It gets us out of the house," Leonard said. "It's really fun to go with a group of people, especially to places you've never been before."
There are more than 170 sanctuaries throughout the state cared for by volunteer stewards.
The outings are also for people of all skill levels, even though the hikes can range from 1 to 3 miles.
"We have a lot of patience with beginners," Leonard said. "If they want to come and try it out that would be great."
It's also an opportunity to learn a few things about nature, as sometimes botanists and foresters will come along and share their knowledge about the area.
Each outing is led by a steward who usually has some experience in the area. Stewards also help keep the sites and trails in good condition.
Leonard said over the years they usually have a decent turnout with up to 40 people participating.
While RSVPs aren't necessary, they help in planning, she said.
"People don't have to if at the last minute they decide they want to come, but it is helpful," Leonard said. "If the weather is bad it's best not to trek out into the Keweenaw waiting for someone, but there's usually someone who shows up."
The Leonards also often go on the hikes and Nancy said she loves doing it and introducing people to new places in the Keweenaw.
"A lot of these places people just might not be aware of," she said.
Winter outings take place through January, February and March, but winter is not the only time for them. There are also events planned during the summer.
"We do a lot of field trips. This past summer we did a field trip to identify dragonflies, ferns and mosses," Leonard said. "In the spring, we did a hike where we listened to the frogs at night and identified them by the different sounds."
To RSVP for an event, contact Nancy Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org.