After our morning stops, we arrived at the Porcupine Mountains State Park and prepared for a Lake of the Clouds hike. We tossed some health food (crackers, pepperoni, and highly cheese slices) and water in our packs and consulted a map. From a previous trip, we knew we wanted to see a few things in the park, so we opted for an out-and-back walk along the escarpment adjacent to the Lake of the Clouds instead of a giant loop.
Fall color is a funny thing close to the lakeshore. Move inland just a bit and red and oranges abound. But near the coast, where the water moderates weather changes, and the leaves retain much of their green pigment.
I’m not sure what the winds were like elsewhere, but terrific gusts accompanied our trek. The trail meandered onto rocky outcroppings and through hardwood forest. The leaves overhead clattered, but the woods still seemed quiet by comparison to the blustery exposed trail.
The wind holds Meg up. You know how you can blow across the top of a bottle and make it whistle? I have a photo of Meg doing this same thing by turning her open mouth just so in the wind. I’m a decent friend, though, so I only shared it with her. But, seriously, it was windy.
After a wrong turn, we arrived at the southwestern end of the park in late afternoon. The normally tame Presque Isle River roared with input from recent rains. I had looked forward to playing in the riverbed, but I didn’t struggle to enjoy this unexpected change in scenery.
We arrived on the shores of Lake Superior in the golden hour before sunset. Should we stay to watch the show, or head back on the other side of the river while there’s still sun to light the trail? Sunset.
We snacked on the remains of our healthy munchies in full dark before beginning the long drive back to Munising. As we crossed back into cell phone territory, our phones all chimed with missed notifications – the kind of thing you generally ought to ignore when you’re with real people. But not when the notifications alert you to aurora, and you’re near the Lake Superior coast, and seeing the aurora is on your friend’s bucket list.
We didn’t catch the brightest showing of the lights on Lake Superior, but wrapped in fleece blankies among the gentle shoreline breezes, we enjoyed what we could see. And as my friend Carol says, that’s enough. More than enough, actually.