Tony and I had been toying around with a trip to the UP (pronounced you-pee – teehee! – for Upper Peninsula…of Michigan, if you aren’t from these parts) to explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Not having any specific dates in mind, but wanting to scout it out before the end of summer, I thought that last weekend would be a great time to go up. I didn’t have this idea in any kind of timely fashion. Tony made the assessment on Thursday morning that he really was caught up enough on work (I’ll catch up in extra hours in the upcoming days) that we could take Friday off and go. So Thursday morning, I booked hotel reservations – because there were no cabins available on such short notice – for the weekend, and we hit the road at 5pm that afternoon.
We stopped at a grocery store along the way to pick up the requisite supplies: cold cuts, cookies, and Cheez-its. For what it’s worth, the cold cuts were nearly fat free and low cholesterol, and I had already packed water and plums. We arrived at our destination outside Munising at about 10pm. (Side note: Munising is very convenient to the park, and Wetmore is only slightly less so. Also, there’s a regular grocery store there, so no worries if you don’t pack a cooler. Oh, and if you’re going, I recommend booking with more notice than we did because accommodations were not cheap, and they could have been.)
Following breakfast Friday morning, we set out for area-renowned sights in order of proximity. Our first stop was the Munising Falls (pictures and details at a later date), followed by Sand Point. The beach there afforded nice views of just-across-the-water Grand Island and its lighthouse. Also, it quickly became obvious that the previous night’s rainstorms had ushered in a moderate windstorm (what else do you call constant ~20mph winds?).
Next, we headed to Miners Falls (also in a later date’s pictures), and then on to Miners Castle and Miners Beach. I had seen several pictures of Miners Castle online (just search for images for “Pictured Rocks” and it’s in the first ones), but I had no real hopes of getting a good view. I had thought, based on things I’d read, that to get really good views of the cliffs and rock formations that you’d need to be in a boat. Not only had we not bothered to load the kayaks, there was NO ONE out on the water, on account of it was feeling murderous. Fortunately, the view from the overlook – practically in the parking lot – was spectacular.
Having checked with a park ranger, we decided against hiking from the beach there to the next real point of interest – Mosquito Beach, because it would have been a one-way seven-mile journey…not reasonable in her estimation. Having apparently forgotten her words of wisdom, we shelved those plans in favor of tackling three big draws for us in one shorter make-your-own-loop hike. You see, we didn’t want to hike 14 miles on no notice, and aimed to do so Saturday. So, we set off from a common trailhead to Mosquito Falls (again, pictures later…spotting a trend yet?), with plans then to hike along the lakeshore, and then back to the trailhead via the Chapel Falls (yep…pictures later).
All this sounded reasonable when we thought it was around six miles. When we arrived at Mosquito Beach, some signage indicated that the hike there felt longer than the less-than-two miles we thought it was…because it was. It was actually 3.2 miles. Some quick estimation indicated that we were going to be trekking a lot longer than we had initially thought. Or prepared for. In the end, we covered about 11 miles (marked clearly on the sign at the trailhead, but nowhere else) in about 6 1/2 hours with two bottles of water and some first aid equipment. When we got back to the car – just shy of sunset at 8:36 – we were ravenous, and condiment-free cold cut sandwiches never tasted so good 🙂
We would both do it again in a heartbeat, and we will do it again. But next time, we will bring along some food and more water. Enjoy the pictures. I’ll work on the waterfalls and more of our UP expedition later 🙂