Rainy Day Beauty

The weather in the UP (and ostensibly the rest of the state) took a nose dive the day we headed home. Since it was a week ago, and I wasn’t there, I don’t remember how bad it was – just that it wasn’t – and isn’t – summery anymore.

raindrops on fall leaves

The story this week has been rain, rain, and more rain. And it’s been pretty cold. A tough transition to go from shorts to coats, hats, and gloves virtually overnight.

raindrops on fall leaves-2

But the fall color is gorgeous, even under the rain. And since cold rainy weather calls for comfort food, we took a short road trip to Petoskey to track down some Polish Kitchen.

fall fence

We stopped at the Deadman’s Hill Overlook, which looks out on the Jordan River Valley.
Deadman's Hill Overlook - panorama

Petey drew a large crowd, and we met some nice folks before moving on for lunch. It was an odd gathering – well over half of the adults had carried beer or wine on the short hike. Hoping they weren’t driving. They seemed like a big family bunch arriving together, so we’ll assume the best.
Deadman's Hill Overlook

A surprising number of trees still hold all their green leaves.
Deadman's Hill - fall fence

Such an odd fall. Our leaves began changing in the summer, and have kind of stalled out in all this rain.
roadside falls

We have temps in the 30’s coming up though, so perhaps the overnight chill will spur the leaves to get back to their beautification project.
wet barbed wire - fall trees

Regardless, we’ll enjoy whatever Mother Nature brings. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset, right? On that note, have a great week!
red maple in pasture

Trolling the U.P.

Hold onto your lederhosen; it’s about to get photo-happy in here! (All of which you can click to embiggen :) )

Last week, Tony and I took Friday off of work and went gallivanting in the Upper Peninsula. We got a bit of a late start, on account of having double-booked ourselves Thursday evening. We arrived at our hotel around 2am, but were happily eating pasties (pass-tees) for breakfast the next morning. (As long as it’s before noon, it counts as morning, right?)


On previous trips to the Yoop ( = U.P. … Upper Peninsula), we’ve both hiked and driven like banshees. This time, we determined we’d have a more sensible trip. We picked out a few waterfalls scattered throughout Alger County to visit. We stopped at Alger Falls (not pictured), Wagner Falls (above on right), Au Train Falls (below on left), Laughing Whitefish Falls (the big set that follows), Scott Falls (no water…not pictured), and Tannery Falls (last one before the star shot).

The super-bright skies made for harsh lighting, but that’s the last you’ll hear me complain. Fall color was very pretty, though not quite peak, and the weather was to-die-for. Okay, I exaggerate. But seriously, it was in the 70’s and 80’s all last week. It was 45, windy, and rainy today.

We stopped at various places along our waterfall route, basking in the summer-in-fall, and simply enjoyed the trip. One of us gets a bit goal-oriented, especially when it comes to tracking down the perfect photo. Ahem.

Just for fun, before calling it a night, we dropped by the famous Miners Castle overlook. It’s stunningly beautiful, but almost a mundane sight as it is the Pictured Rocks shot. Still, it’s always worth a visit. Two in our case, as the aurora came out to dance after the sun went to bed.

Content with our gallery of waterfalls, we opted for a longer hike on Saturday along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. Going in a touch better informed than the first time (when we hiked around 12 miles instead of what we thought was less than half that), we headed to Grand Portal Point. I had a spot in my head that I wanted to revisit, which was somewhere near there.


Some other hikers shared the trails, but we still enjoyed mostly empty wilderness.

We walked along the cliffs perched above Lake Superior for about 5.5 miles, occasionally stopping for photos, before we arrived at my remembered destination. We chowed down on the pasties we packed for lunch, and then began the journey back.
Pictured Rocks escarpment pano

Even though we were closing in on 11 miles, we were still feeling great, and the sun was still high in the sky. We spoke to a ranger at Chapel Rock, who told us Spray Falls was about a mile-and-a-half away (but to tack on another half mile for the best view). We decided to go for it.
Pictured Rocks Chapel Beach

The falls – 2.2 miles away – fall thunderously over a 40-ft drop directly into the lake. Next time we’ll aim for a morning arrival for better viewing, but how impressive is that? And did I stand in the river/creek near where it dropped off the edge? I’ll never tell.

Somehow, even though we knew we’d get back before dark, we ended up hiking the trail out with a swiftly sinking sun. No worries – we had dinner in hand shortly after dusk :)

Sunday morning, we awoke before the birds in hopes of some awesome sunrise shots over nearby inland lakes. Again, clear skies didn’t bring much interest, but the absolute stillness of the lakes was awe-inspiring.
Mocassin Lake pano
After our last excursion, we popped one last time into Muldoon’s for pumpkin pie pasties. Well, I got pumpkin pie. Tony probably got veggie or something reasonable. And then we were off to cross back under the bridge to rejoin our “troll” compatriots in the Lower Peninsula.

Trail Time

The arrival of fall brings a touch of melancholy – we hardly had summer, I’m not ready for the cold, and I’m going to miss the long days – but it also brings the blessing of fewer biting bugs, which means more trail time.

dog watching

Last weekend we had Tony’s entire family stay with us. Okay, not his entire family, but his grandparents, mom, niece, aunt, and cousin. Before that – last time we chatted – we had visited the Sand Lakes. Last time we were there was in May; the place looks remarkably different now.

Click to embiggen:

Sand Lakes marl pano

Sand Lakes - clear water and marl

Note the swimming pine trees and soggy trails. If you click for a larger view, you can see minnows schooling on the formerly dry path.

Even with all the rain (I tried to track down the numbers…to no avail. If you know of a reliable resource, please share :) ), the high ground stays pretty dry. This means places like Hickory Meadows in Traverse City are open for a visit after dinner. Or before. Cooler temps make it pleasant just about any time with the right layers.

And tonight we even ventured back into the Skegemog Swamp. Last time – in June? – we high-tailed it outta there because of marauding mosquitoes. Tonight only a couple chased and chewed.

We made it most of the way to the viewing platform before abandoning the trek. Excess water builds up in the wetlands, too, overtaking the boardwalk. :-/

Petey looks for whatever’s making the squishing sound each time we step

Happy to have made it as far as we did, we turned around with no complaints. Except maybe one: Where’s my apple cider? ;)

{Unrelated} – Petey at “camp,” because I’ve been promising Graham I’d share the love. :)

Mushroom Monday

It’s Monday here for about another hour, and I have a lot of mushroom photos to share – so you get Mushroom Monday. ;)

In between yet more storms and dressed for fall (all the layers: jacket, hat, light gloves…), we did lots of hiking this weekend. Seems like the weather hasn’t been very cooperative for much else – too windy for kayaking, and far too cold for diving. But, at least we have lots of beautiful places to explore on foot. I’ll check back in soon with some hiking images/stories. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite mushrooms from along the trails.

Have a great week! (I’ll be checking into all the blogs I’ve missed just as soon as I get my feed-reader working again!)

Lost in a Small Woods

Remember a few years ago when Tony and I accidentally hiked a dozen miles in the UP? The mistake two years ago rests firmly on our shoulders: we didn’t consult the map at the trail-head that had distances clearly marked (unlike our paper trail map).

Unintentionally long hikes seem to be a bit of a theme for us. This Saturday, I feel like we were victims of badly marked trails instead of just being lazily uninformed. We settled on a two-mile route in the trails behind the old Traverse City State Hospital – after consulting the trail map. We even took a phone picture of it so we’d have it nearby. We set off, taking the first left as indicated on the map.


That was the last time, for two hours, that we knew where we were. The map indicates a few different trails, neatly marked in distinct colors. The woods, however, is a spiderweb of unlabeled intersecting paths. At each (frequent) crossing, we’d decide whether to fork left or right. Or continue ahead versus turning.

bridge in the woods

We never feared actually being lost. The entire system is sandwiched between some main roads, and we could often hear TC traffic if we just listened for it. Eventually we meandered back to some marked trails, though we never did make sense of where we had gone or how we had ended up where we did.


“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”