Back to Pictured Rocks

On our third morning in the U.P. we talked to a few locals regarding the government shutdown and what was going on with the park. After hearing that people on the cruises (These run on the Lake Superior shore along the escarpment, but are not actually in the park, so they were not shut down.) reported waving to folks inside the park at various overlooks, and that park rangers were giving warning tickets, we decided to venture in.

The Miners Castle overlook was the most seriously barricaded with a few widely spaced orange barrels and some broken tape marking the entrance. We shared the parking lot with another vehicle, but didn’t see any people associated with said vehicle. After admiring the view (of which I did not take photos because it was shrouded in morning shadows, but I did last year if you want a reminder – Miners Castle last August), we headed down the hill to Miners Beach.

We strolled in the untouched sand between the Miners River and the gently lapping waves of Lake Superior for half an hour before anyone joined us. Afterward, we drove further into the park’s interior for a shorter version of the hike we accidentally undertook last year.

Though the parking lot to our preferred trailhead was blocked, it was blocked in such a way as to indicate “Park over here and walk in.” So we followed the lead of other visitors and parked in the clearing just outside the cones.

Aside from an elderly couple we saw who had thrown in the towel on the muddy first part of the hike, we didn’t see another human the entire four hours we walked. Ensconced in clear blue skies, Technicolor leaves, and warm light, we hiked inside a caricature of autumn.

Also, I spotted lots of good mushrooms 😉

Our path loosely followed the Mosquito River (thankfully, a misnomer in October) as it wended toward the lake.

We took a moment in serious contemplation on the last bridge before we spilled onto the coast. Okay, so it wasn’t serious, but we did take a moment to enjoy our woodland surroundings.

Living in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, I forget sometimes that the rest of the state isn’t necessarily a sand box. Some of it has actually been mushed into sandstone that is spectacularly beautiful.

Perched on the banks where the river meets the lake, we munched on apples and trail mix in the surprising heat of the October sun.

By late afternoon, we were back in the car angling toward our final Pictured Rocks destination – a short hike at Sable Falls. Only about a quarter of a mile, this trail again follows a rather scenic little creek.

Whereas I was marginally disappointed by the abundant water in the Presque Isle River, the additional flow in the Sable River only enhanced the beauty (in my eyes) of the Sable Falls.

After snapping just the right number of photos of the river, I joined Tony and Meg on the rocky beach. We could’ve spent the rest of the afternoon wading and rock hunting/skipping, but decided to wrap up our trip so that we could stay awake for the car ride home.

So, Upper Peninsula excursion not as planned, but a success anyway. Hooray for spontaneity and adaptability! How about you? Any plans get derailed only to get rerailed better?


8 thoughts on “Back to Pictured Rocks

  1. Such beauty! Glad you got derailed into having even more fun than you thought. Love it when that happens. Always hoping to be flexible…not always succeeding, but nevertheless trying.

    • You summed it up well – sometimes I do better at flexibility than others, but I work on it. Tony has a particular drive from childhood not to be derailed by things not going according to one’s plan, so it’s something we’re a team on, at least. It’s always good to be open to the possibility that *your* plan might not have been the best one 🙂

  2. I enjoyed catching up with all your UP entries; we covered a fair amount of the same ground. I didn’t hit the western UP this trip (i.e. no Porkies or Bond Falls or that neck of the woods), but I spent quite a bit of time in Pictured Rocks, including many of the same spots you documented, and had my own extended set of experiences with the “soft” barricades that were set up there (which I will discuss at some length in future entries on my blog).

    Not incidentally–it’s phenomenal that you had the opportunity to witness (and photograph) the aurora borealis! I was not in a position to do so, so I vicariously enjoyed the experience via your post. Thank you for that.

    • Looking forward to your account of the shutdown’s impact on the park. As for the aurora, we weren’t in a great position to see it either. We weren’t entirely sure it was even visible until I just did a hand-held 30-second exposure to check! We drove way out of the way to get a decent place for our friend to see it. Didn’t realize until later that I had my iso cranked way down so I ended up with blurry-looking star trails trying to gather enough light for the exposure :-/ Sometimes you just have to live it!

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