In general, taking a spontaneous trip Farther North and then going on an 11-mile bonus hike would be enough to call it a trip. But, it was supposed to rain in the eastern half of the UP on Saturday, and well, we were already up there, so we decided to check out the Porcupine Mountains, which are 3 1/2 hours away…if you don’t go through Marquette and then Houghton…which we did.
Much of the UP is devoid of civilization, including vast stretches of sandy Lake Superior beach. I suspect that even on the busiest weekend in the height of tourist season you could easily find a large patch of sand to call your own for a day. Tony and I stopped at such a place a couple miles west of Munising where the Au Train River dumps into Lake Superior. Though gull prints dotted the sand, there were only two other sets of human prints, emphasizing our solitude. Only the high spots on the beach were dry, with overlapping water marks in the sand providing further evidence of the previous day’s violent waves – a stark contrast to the morning’s stillness.
We stopped for lunch and a quick stroll around Marquette. From the short amount of time we spent there, we agreed that it felt like the quaint coastal town it was with obvious historical roots in shipping. I don’t have any background in architecture, but what I can tell you is that there are many cool buildings in/near the downtown area.
This structure is used for loading taconite onto ships
We explored the Keweenaw Peninsula for a while longer before heading down to the Porcupine Mountains, far in the west of the UP. Was it completely stupid to rush over there for a scant two hours of time in the park? Yes it was. Did we do it anyway? Obviously, Lana. Whereas the visitor newsletter for the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore featured such interesting news as the bureaucratic intricacies surrounding interagency cooperation, the Porcupine Mountains visitor newsletter groundbreakingly provided truly useful information about things to see if your time is limited. We stopped at two of the three highlighted spots for a one-day visit. Two hours = one day if you’re doing things our way 😉
The view at the Summit Peak overlook reminded me very much of the hills around the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky. Except for the giant lake in the background. The scenery atop the ~2000-foot peak was pretty enough, but would be dazzling in the fall. I expect that the hikes through the park’s interior are the real reason to go back though. The park boasts 90+ waterfalls, and if they flow down streams remotely as lovely as the Presque Isle River, they would be splendid indeed.
One of these days we’ll catch a sunset over Lake Superior, but we didn’t stay for the entire sunset that night, on account of it was 1.5 miles back to the car, and then 3 1/2 hours back to bed. We were safely “home” sometime before 1am, which was good since we still had the rest of Pictured Rocks to check out the next day, followed by the Tahquamenon Falls. Seriously…we stormed the UP in a weekend. Whew!