I went out skiing this afternoon along the old Michigan Central Railroad tracks. For over a hundred years, tracks along this roadbed linked together Grand Rapids and Jackson, providing service to industries and farms along the line. In 1984, the tracks were removed, ending railroad service for many towns. Much of the track has been converted to a walking/biking path (and I have written about cycling along this section before).
It felt good to stretch my legs. Being that this is a former railroad bed and that it runs along a river, the skiing in relatively flat. With the trees naked of leaves, it wasn’t a problem seeing the river as it snakes its way through the hardwood swamp. The river is still flowing, but the backwaters are frozen. It was 30 degrees when I started, a lot warmer than last weekend when the highs were in the single digits. It was warm enough that I didn’t even need to cover my ears. But the sky was so gray that it felt colder and there was no way of knowing when the sunset. I skied down a couple of miles before turning around and making my way back to where I started.
Although I enjoy this path, it’s sad there are no longer trains running along here. But there are a few ghosts of the railroad, the trestles and some mile markers. After skiing, I stowed by skis in the back of my truck and went into Champs Bar, where I enjoyed a tall Red Sky Ale from a brewery in Frankenmuth (on the other side of the state) along with their Friday special—a fried fish platter.