The Great Outdoorsman: NW Ohio native pens books on Mich. getawaysWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
From the time he was a little kid growing up out in the country in Monclova, Northwest Ohio native Paul Emch has loved exploring the outdoors. He had no idea that one day he would be able to turn his childhood hobby into a useful endeavor.
In 1997, Emch first visited Michigan’s Grand Island National Recreation Area on Lake Superior while working at a camp in Wisconsin. Having taken several backpacking trips to nearby Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with his grandfather and friends in the years following, Emch loved the area and always wanted to get back to Grand Island. He finally got that opportunity in 2004, only to discover that information about the island was slim and no adventure or historical guide existed since it was one of the country’s newest national recreation areas.
“I started collecting all this information and I started having a file of this stuff of things to go see [and] do on the trails, the history of it,” Emch said. “Don’t ask me how or why I got this crazy idea. I was like, ‘I might as well put it all into a book form.’”
After getting the green light from the National Forest Service and nearly a two-year process organizing the material, that’s exactly what Emch did, releasing “Grand Island National Recreation Area Adventure & Historical Guide” in 2006 through Trafford Publishing, an on-demand book publishing service. With both the experience and the blueprint on how he wanted to format his books, Emch released his second book in 2008 on another Michigan destination he first visited as a camp adventure guide back in 2000, the “Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area Adventure & Historical Guide.”
“I like it because I did the books, but it gives me the opportunity to share with other people cool places that they can go,” Emch said.
A ‘Grand’ Island
Located approximately 43 miles from Marquette, Mich. and a half-mile from Munising, Mich., Grand Island is accessible via the mainland passenger ferry on M-28. The island offers a variety of outdoor activities for families to choose from, such as kayaking, fishing, backpacking, camping, hiking and biking. Emch’s book includes features like 300-foot sandstone cliffs, sea caves and nearby glass bottom boat tours where visitors can see shipwrecks like the Bermuda through the clear waters of Lake Superior.
“I wanted to put the whole thing together so other people could find interest in the place and go up there,” Emch said. “I didn’t want too many people going up there at one time, but I wanted to share the information so other people would know about it and they’d get a chance to go see it.”
Life’s a beach
In addition to Grand Island, Emch’s book about the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area—located on Lake Michigan between Ludington, Mich. and Manistee, Mich.—describes a place where families can explore “7,300 feet of undeveloped and untouched shoreline” and visit Michigan’s only designated wilderness in the state’s Lower Peninsula. The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area is part of the largest concentration of freshwater sand dunes on the planet.
“It’s really a cool, little getaway for our area here because you can get up to that area in about four hours, and if you just have a real quick weekend that you want to get out and just do an easy backpacking trip, that works very well,” Emch said. “Going to Grand Island, it’s a haul. It’s a seven, eight-hour trip to get up there. This, you could easily go out there with your kids for a weekend and hike in a couple miles and get your tent right on the beach pretty much and camp out.”
Having obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation and his Master’s Degree in Recreation Administration from the University of Toledo, Emch unfortunately was never able to find a steady paycheck and a steady job in his field of choice. However, the owner of Painted Turtle Interiors and FrogTown RainTube was able to use his business sense to find a way to pursue his passion for the outdoors and share it with others.
“Writing the book was a learning experience, but it’s something that almost anybody could do it now because if you had an idea of something you wanted to write about, you could easily do it,” Emch said. “With the on-demand companies in self-publishing, if you had a cool idea of something you wanted to write on—and maybe no one else though it was, but you really wanted to get the satisfaction of doing something like that—it’s pretty easy to do.”
To learn more about Emch, visit his website at www.takeahike-wp.com