Photostock 2013 – Lake Oneal and The Birchwood Inn

I don’t recall if I regaled you all with the saga of my stuck rental car. I had heard from some other folks at Photostock about Lake Oneal, which they said was absolutely beautiful, but really needed to be photographed in foggy conditions. Something was mentioned about the road to it being challenging, but that kinda got lost in my memory at the time. On my last day at Photostock, I decided to drive around on my own and take some photos. I had stopped in the general store in Good Hart and the owner gave me a map of Emmett County and marked a number of photogenic sights on it. I headed out, map in hand, stopping at the boat launch in Cross Village to get my shots of Lake Michigan. Carrying on, I saw the road to Lake Oneal marked on the map. At the end of the road there was a symbol for a boat launch. I thought, “how bad can the road be if there’s a boat launching ramp at the end?”. So, naive as I was, I drove back there. The road had some sandy spots in it, but nothing I couldn’t navigate around in my Ford Fusion. Then, at the very end of the road, there was a tall uphill, and on the downslope to the parking/unloading area, a VERY sandy stretch. I managed to get down the slope fine, so I figured I could follow the same track back up. NOT. I tried, several times, and ended up getting the car stuck on the side of the road. Long story short, two and a half hours and $300 later, my car was back on a hard surface road.

The Sandy Uphill
The Sandy Uphill

While I was stuck there, in the bright beautiful sunlight of a fog-less afternoon, I decided I would take on the challenge thrown down by the other photographers of getting a good shot of the lake with no fog. Here are the results:

Bridge, Oneal Lake
Bridge, Oneal Lake

The bridge is over a sluice/runoff drain for the lake. Judging from the stands of dead trees sticking out of the lake waters, the lake was an artificial lake. Why it was created I’m not sure, but I’m not about to complain.

Oneal Lake
Oneal Lake

Here you can better see the snags of dead trees reflected in the waters. Other than the leaden white sky (there was a little overcast, but still bright sun), I’d say challenge met.

These next two photos are of/at the Birchwood Inn, our headquarters for Photostock. The first one is of some magnificent clouds we had one evening. The roof of the annex to the inn is just visible at the bottom.

Clouds, Birchwood Inn, Evening
Clouds, Birchwood Inn, Evening

The last photo of this post is the Birchwood Inn’s patio illuminated by the full moon. This was I believe the night of the “super-moon”, but late enough it no longer appeared larger than normal. But it sure was bright and beautiful.

The Birchwood, Moonlight
The Birchwood, Moonlight

All the black and white images were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Ilford Delta 400 film. The color shot was from my iPhone. Which was my lifeline to getting un-stuck, but barely – signal at Lake Oneal was so bad, I kept dropping my calls to AAA. So two words of caution should you ever want to visit Lake Oneal yourself – ONE: bring your own 4-wheel drive/offroad vehicle, preferably with a bumper-mounted winch, and TWO: a satellite phone would not be a bad investment. I watched two different 4wd vehicles go up that hill, and both had trouble, although one fared better than the other. The first one was only technically 4wd, because his front transfer case was acting up and so the power was only going to the rear wheels. His knobby tires and high clearance were what enabled him to get out. The other one spun and sputtered and wallowed through the sand but made it out in one pass.

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