Peach Mountain

Outside of Dexter, Michigan is a mysterious place called Peach Mountain. It's not on any maps, and no signs are posted saying who owns it. Just a gate and a road. A secret training camp? An underground medical facility where they conduct cyrogenic experiments? We'll just have to find out.

Why it's even called Peach Mountain is God's own private mystery. It's really just a big wooded hill (although at 1,040 feet above sea level, it's the closest thing we have to a mountain in southeast Michigan), and there isn't a peach tree within 500 miles.

A shaded dirt road climbs through a mixed forest of hardwoods and conifers. Various species of oaks and maples share the terra firma with pines and evergreens. Black walnuts and white pines over one hundred years old co-exist peacefully in this 'hood.

At the peak are several buildings. Missile silos? Nope. It's the University of Michigan observatory. This overgrown telescope probably dates back to the time of Nostradamus.

Nearby is a bigger telescope, the pride of the star fleet. So you'd think they would make the new initiates at the U of M Astronomy Club get up there with a can of paint and a roller brush. Show some pride and sling some paint, space nerds!

There's a place for students to crash after a late night of looking for Trans-Neptunian objects and Oort clouds. Is it like other college housing where they have kegger parties? Or does a fun time mean watching Star Trek movies and having a spirited discussion about whether hydrogen converts into helium during a supernova? We suspect the latter.

Down the hill a bit is a huge satelite dish. Last week this thing rotated and tilted right towards us and for a terrifying moment, we thought we were about to be vaporized by a laser beam. It was probably just the National Public Radio feed switching from Car Talk to the BBC world news hour, but we're taking no unnecessary chances. From now on, we're wearing our aluminum foil body armor and taking our Ion Intercept Deflectors, just in case....

A network of trails criss-crosses the property. Spotted fawns scamper away and squirrels drop walnuts on your head. On one hike, there was a noisy murder of crows making a huge ruckus above. All of a sudden, a red tailed hawk dropped a headless crow from it's talons right in front of us as the crows squawked and flailed about. Apparently, they weren't too pleased one their homies had become raptor lunch.

Blackberry bushes on the trail edge provide a delicious mid-hike snack. Other than the occasional hiker or grad student, rarely do you run into many people at this gem of a place. The only exception are weekend groups of weird geo-cachers running all over the place with GPS units, taking part in a bizarre competition to dig up shit and then rebury it.

A 1,000 foot radio tower sits on the east side of the mountain, broadcasting the Thistle and Shamrock Show and A Prairie Home Companion to 5 million people. Don't get us wrong, we like NPR, but listening to their news can get tedious. Every story has to have a liberal victimization angle to it. It's always something like: the sun is going to implode in 10 days, and the indigenous people of Borneo and the homeless in New York City will be among those most impacted...."

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