I’ve winnowed down my photos from our trip to the UP last weekend; I’ve tried – probably unsuccessfully – to break them up into manageable chunks so I don’t overwhelm you. I’m projecting. It’s really so I don’t overwhelm myself. Regardless, I’ll share a bit more from our excursion and then, I promise, I’ll move on to something else…like the fact that I had just begun to welcome fall when temperatures in the nineties moved in for the weekend. Sigh.
One of the coolest things about road trips is the things you stumble upon in between destinations. We had wanted to check out the Keweenaw Peninsula (didn’t do enough of that and will be back!), and so headed to Houghton out of Marquette, with plans to drive directly to McLain State Park – on the north side of the peninsula. We probably should have consulted the maps regarding which roads go where, since we completely missed a turn that we should have been, but were not looking for. We ended up at the Quincy Mine and Hoist ruins, in the center of the peninsula. We stayed around long enough to enjoy the expansive views and to explore some of the old buildings. We were both immensely impressed with the masonry – note the bricks near the openings of the old shafts.
Two cool things I learned as a result of this stumble: 1) Some of the best copper in the world was found on the Keweenaw Peninsula, and 2) The Quincy mine site was successful longer than others because management recognized their workers would stick around longer if treated well – a lesson some places I’ve worked in the past could learn.
Switching Gears – Tahquamenon Falls
The Tahquamenon (Tah-kwa-men-on) Falls was more or less on our way home from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – especially if you consider the great lengths we went to in visiting the Porcupine Mountains (which were much less on our way anywhere). After the abundant solitude in Pictured Rocks, Tahquamenon felt fairly like a metropolis. Entrepreneurial spirits had set up shuttles between the upper and lower falls, and appeared to be operating with much success. The trails to the falls were wide and paved, and generally very short – though some platforms required 100+ stair climbs. The thoughtful part of me was grateful on behalf of those who are not able to walk easily (or at all – it’s a great place to stop with a wheelchair!). The curmudgeon in me bristled as lazy folks were rewarded with seemingly unearned beauty. Ah well. At least folks were out and about, and I couldn’t blame ’em – I was out there too!
So – the long and short of the crazy weekend? Don’t try it all at once. Pictured Rocks – probably great any time of the year, if your car can make the journey and you are of the winter-wonderland intrepid nature. Lots here for every kind of hiker, from backcountry overnighters to the abject non-hikers we found at Tahquamenon. Porcupine Mountains – best in the fall or spring. Fall for the leaf color splendor and spring for the fuller waterfalls. Tahquamenon Falls – tack it onto a trip. If you’re traveling across the Mackinac Bridge, you can add it to any trip, because it’s not too far from the main arteries up there, but if you’re traveling from the west, I’d add it to a Pictured Rocks trip. Questions about the (sometimes nonexistent) roads up there? Drop me a line!