All week long Dan could not stop talking about getting back out on the Emerald Trail. He wanted to see it all! We talked about it with our wives on the Thursday night ride and got an OK to return to the trail Saturday morning. Arriving at MCB @ 8:15, it did not take Dan long to bounce on down from his elevated office, out onto the parking lot with his good old bike well in hand. Today we were going to start the Emerald necklace Trail from the Park we used as our Starting/Finishing point while mapping. Riverside Park at the foot of Jefferson and Grand Blvd. is where we started to map out the Emerald Necklace last February. As we snaked our way down to the starting point, my good friend Dan did not call out ‘Right Turn’ as he cut across my path, I snatched the brakes but was unable to prevent my first fall in over 6 years! Darn man, I mean we all got to call out our turns, Right? Whatever! No trail rash, no blood, and no wounds, let’s go!
Blasting by Composite Forging always reminds me of the dirty sobering echo of our cites past glory and fame. But given the toll on the Environment and moreover the Great Lakes, I thought to myself that maybe the real blessing of this hardship is the healing of the Great Lakes and maybe Mother Earth Herself? Anyways, we skipped around the fence near the ambassador bridge and soon found ourselves floating on by Riverside Park on Jefferson, then Entering into Ft. Wayne. A hard left and yet another, quick right at the dead end, brought us over and down into the Moat that used to surround the Fort way back when. Kind of cool as you can side- climb and swoop up and down as much as you want. Heading out and around the Fort we dived towards the water and got off for a minute to stretch and take in the murmuring sounds of the Detroit River. The local mail boat made two separate visits to the Large Freighters passing us by, sounding soft toots of the horn as in a way to say goodbye. Back around the westerly boarder trail that encircles the complex, on through the old officer housing, (found falling back to the ground rotting in decay), we headed back out onto Jefferson, left to Green, right to Lafayette, left to Springwells, right to Homer, were we turned left into the Iliad of our own invention. From there it was straight to Woodmere Cemetery Street right, making our way to Vernor, crossing on the green light, slight left entering up and into the ADA sidewalk enhancement ramp, darting up the hill under yet another Virgin Oak Savanna Forest Cluster.
We dismounted right in the middle of the sacred stand, opened up our hearts, attempted to stand, stretched wide to the sky, open to understand. The place has its own vibration, its own hum if you will. On a picnic table nearby a fellow was still hoping to gain, body language restless and in pain, please just a little more sleep, tirelessly he wrestled with the 4’x8′ sheet of plywood he had on top of himself to protect him from? We guessed the weather. We talked about the Secret Mysteries as a Muslim fellow moved, affixed himself kneeling up the hill towards our direction, making good use of his hopeful prayers in what would be loosely termed a Pagan Temple. Up on the saddles, flying down the hill, darting right on a never used sidewalk we flew down and around Patton Park, curving right at the tip we cross-walked over Dix onto Roulo entering into Dearborn on our way to Lapeer Park.
Left on the asphalt pedestrian trail, on up the huge, (Jim gets off his bike and walks up the last 23′ of the Burm) hill, we circled gently out to Eagle left, on pass ‘Johnny’s Place’ making another quick left on Salina we headed south, pivoted west around the dead end, spilled out onto Dix and then slid left, up on the sidewalk, under the rail road track bridge, on our way over to Mellow Street. From Mellow Street we rode on Past Schaeffer Hwy., and soon made our way north along side of the Rouge River. This is where I knew the fun would really start to begin!
In an L.A. Storm Drain like fashion, Mr. Ford and the Dearborn City Council saw fit to make the Rouge run through a concrete basin, from roughly his house at Fairlane all the way down to his newly constructed Rouge Plant. Surrounded with Army Core of Engineer flood plains and dykes, I am sure it wasn’t the best thing for the environment. With that being said and with all the time that nature had to heal, it sure seems like a good idea to me. Especially when the cement embankments offer a hard packed trail right along the river for any and all to enjoy? As Jon would say “Are you kidding me”? Man this was great fun, miles and miles of un-interrupted flow, no cars except for a few fishermen, this place is unreal and open to all of us pedestrian bike-coholics. Under Greenfield, then under I-94 too, down under Rotunda Drive, miles and miles of side slippery slide river trail. We pushed hard all the way up to the newly reopened watershed stream-bed that exit’s ‘Naturally’ through our concrete trail, out from Henry Ford Village, effectively stopping our proposed trail directly in its tracks. Nice improvement! Would have been cool to have a pedestrian bridge? What made matters worse they had built a 6′ high fence and posted signs of do not trespass! Well we hopped on over and in, but instead of continuing our way North, along the river easement, which is open to all, including pre determined setbacks as per Michigan State Law, we instead turned left and made a bee-line out, exiting the property proper form. We will have to figure something out or get them on Board for what we are hoping to do. Okay I will kind of admit it was fun going through and around the village of Henry Ford. The only downside is cars and the drivers therein. This is the Goal of going Emerald, it is the path least traveled, a green world of pedestrians. A world without cars and their influence unto and into the pedestrian stream of things, at least to us, is like the kingdom returning unto the earthly plain.
Anyways, we finally came round and darted east along Michigan until we had clear-to-cross, quickly we found ourselves on a great pedestrian trail, slight right finally we were in. Along the North side of Michigan Ave. between Brady and great big bad Evergreen, you will find an 8′ asphalt path that runs and plays in harmony dance with the river and the native watershed-land. Bridges cross over the river two separate times, up and down watershed half pipes, the path leads its way around Fairlane, UMD campus, Henry Ford Community College, under Ford Road and conveniently dumps you out into Hines Drive/Park. If you only hit this trail please do so and do so often as fast as you dare or like!
New Park, new vibe, new feel, okay, waking up, we avoided traffic and hit the brakes and then the asphalt trail of Hines Park which could only be described as something quite different from just a few seconds ago. Flowing left/west, one premature/explorative right turn led us down an arm of the natural watershed grade, we followed a stream down and down, snaking-making its way to the Rouge River, at the dead- end- forest we spun back around and slowly climbed our way back out to the road side trail. Looking at the map so that I would get it clear this time, it seem shortly to me we would find, our path and the last dreaded incline. 250 yards west/later we found the river shed lawn park grade opening out. Made our way slight right, in through wet thick grass and climbed our way out onto Ann Arbor Trail. 100 yards from the exact same place we conclude Part 1 a week earlier. From there and without hesitation we jammed it east out Paul and made our way back to MCB with only a slight water brake, on back to our homes, our wives and kids making 12:30 seem right to everyone.
Bike Detroit! Bike the Emerald Necklace!
J. Meyers bike explorer.