Trolling the U.P.

Hold onto your lederhosen; it’s about to get photo-happy in here! (All of which you can click to embiggen πŸ™‚ )

Last week, Tony and I took Friday off of work and went gallivanting in the Upper Peninsula. We got a bit of a late start, on account of having double-booked ourselves Thursday evening. We arrived at our hotel around 2am, but were happily eating pasties (pass-tees) for breakfast the next morning. (As long as it’s before noon, it counts as morning, right?)


On previous trips to the Yoop ( = U.P. … Upper Peninsula), we’ve both hiked and driven like banshees. This time, we determined we’d have a more sensible trip. We picked out a few waterfalls scattered throughout Alger County to visit. We stopped at Alger Falls (not pictured), Wagner Falls (above on right), Au Train Falls (below on left), Laughing Whitefish Falls (the big set that follows), Scott Falls (no water…not pictured), and Tannery Falls (last one before the star shot).

The super-bright skies made for harsh lighting, but that’s the last you’ll hear me complain. Fall color was very pretty, though not quite peak, and the weather was to-die-for. Okay, I exaggerate. But seriously, it was in the 70’s and 80’s all last week. It was 45, windy, and rainy today.

We stopped at various places along our waterfall route, basking in the summer-in-fall, and simply enjoyed the trip. One of us gets a bit goal-oriented, especially when it comes to tracking down the perfect photo. Ahem.

Just for fun, before calling it a night, we dropped by the famous Miners Castle overlook. It’s stunningly beautiful, but almost a mundane sight as it is the Pictured Rocks shot. Still, it’s always worth a visit. Two in our case, as the aurora came out to dance after the sun went to bed.

Content with our gallery of waterfalls, we opted for a longer hike on Saturday along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. Going in a touch better informed than the first time (when we hiked around 12 miles instead of what we thought was less than half that), we headed to Grand Portal Point. I had a spot in my head that I wanted to revisit, which was somewhere near there.


Some other hikers shared the trails, but we still enjoyed mostly empty wilderness.

We walked along the cliffs perched above Lake Superior for about 5.5 miles, occasionally stopping for photos, before we arrived at my remembered destination. We chowed down on the pasties we packed for lunch, and then began the journey back.
Pictured Rocks escarpment pano

Even though we were closing in on 11 miles, we were still feeling great, and the sun was still high in the sky. We spoke to a ranger at Chapel Rock, who told us Spray Falls was about a mile-and-a-half away (but to tack on another half mile for the best view). We decided to go for it.
Pictured Rocks Chapel Beach

The falls – 2.2 miles away – fall thunderously over a 40-ft drop directly into the lake. Next time we’ll aim for a morning arrival for better viewing, but how impressive is that? And did I stand in the river/creek near where it dropped off the edge? I’ll never tell.

Somehow, even though we knew we’d get back before dark, we ended up hiking the trail out with a swiftly sinking sun. No worries – we had dinner in hand shortly after dusk πŸ™‚

Sunday morning, we awoke before the birds in hopes of some awesome sunrise shots over nearby inland lakes. Again, clear skies didn’t bring much interest, but the absolute stillness of the lakes was awe-inspiring.
Mocassin Lake pano
After our last excursion, we popped one last time into Muldoon’s for pumpkin pie pasties. Well, I got pumpkin pie. Tony probably got veggie or something reasonable. And then we were off to cross back under the bridge to rejoin our “troll” compatriots in the Lower Peninsula.

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31 thoughts on “Trolling the U.P.

  1. Wow! I was there in august and the light was flat, but it was still beautiful. But now that I see your photos, I see it’s even more amazing up there! I’ll have to go back next fall. Thanks for sharing!

    • I have some photographer friends up there now, and I am struggling with envy/jealousy/other ugly comparing emotions. They’re getting quite a bit of flat light, and I’m sure their photos are amazing too. Fortunately, we had an absolutely fabulous trip so I can’t be too upset. Okay, not upset at all πŸ˜‰
      In short – I obviously love the place, and think you should go!

  2. Brilliant. We don’t much autumn yet but it won’t hold a candle to that. You get a lot more red than over here.

    Love the head appearing form the sea. Reminds me of the Time Bandits only a lot more benign. Have fun, Graham πŸ˜€

    • Our leaves started changing fairly early, but then we began to get hammered with rain and the color fiesta slowed. I’m not sure what the rest of the season will bring, but I just love all the color that’s happening. Do you not have many maples over there? They are the red royalty of leaf color over here πŸ™‚
      Not sure which head from the sea you’re talking about, but the smiling faces carved into the rocks kinda reminded me of Easter Island – just a touch!

      • No we don’t get a lot of Maple, or Mable Syrup (who is she anyway).

        The head I meant is the pic with your back in view and looks like it’s got trees for hair. Very surreal. πŸ™‚

    • We got so lucky with the weather. I finally tracked down some rainfall numbers, and we’ve had more than twice historical averages over the previous two months.

  3. πŸ™‚ We’ll be in the Keweenaw next weekend. Leaving today for meetings in Green Bay and then Thursday we’ll be heading up. We’re hoping all the rain and wind will have left us a little color. Your shots are wonderful. Isn’t it fun to go on a photo hunt? I have a photo of the Mackinac Bridge almost exactly like that! πŸ™‚ Glad you had fun…and thanks for sharing the photos! I always enjoy your work. (PS: I was down in Alabama over Labor Day and we hung your photo of Point Betsie in winter on the wall among the other mementos of my folks’ lives. Thanks for that too.)

    • I’m thinking you’ll still have some good leaf color – if photos of other photography nerds are to be believed πŸ˜‰ I just hope the weather is nice for your visit.
      Thanks for letting me know about the Pt. Betsie photo – it’s very touching that you’d use one of my shots in such a way. ❀

  4. Oh, Heather, what a delightful trip. I love visiting the Yoop, so your story and photos had my heart beating fast. Wonderful images that captured the beauty and personality of the Pictured Rocks area.

    • That’s fantastic Pat – about your swiftly beating heart πŸ™‚
      If I didn’t love it so much right where I live, I’d be sorely tempted to move to the Yoop. This state has such beautiful variety. I’m so often astounded. *Contented sigh*

  5. Heather,
    You have an amazing eye. The pictures are breathtaking.
    Have you made it to Grand Island and it’s glorious Trout Bay?
    Would love to see your prints from there.
    Off to warm So. Cal. next week. Leaving behind the chill, colors, and solitude of
    Torch Lake area.

    • Trish! Did you see that I wrote out our chance meeting? So glad to have gotten the opportunity to say “hello.”
      Thank you for the compliment. I get a touch obsessive about photography, so I’m glad it comes through in the photos πŸ˜‰
      We have not been to Grand Island yet. We’ve talked about going, but only once we’re up there with other plans. I’ll have to look into it more ahead of time and carve a place in our haphazard schedule!
      Enjoy Cali!! You’re leaving some icky weather behind.

  6. Hmmm, I read this the other day (yesterday?) but obviously didn’t comment. You took some absolutely beautiful photos of da U.P.! I love your enthusiasm for this peninsula and the fact you and Tony make regular trips up.

    • I just wish it were a touch closer! It is an absolutely beautiful place, and if it felt like home the way TC does, we might be there instead of here πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you’re happy to share your home, though I suppose you still get branded a Troll, too.

  7. Amazingly gorgeous post! The place is so beautiful I can’t believe it can really exist. But it does, you’re there in the photos! Love the one of you and Tony πŸ™‚

    • The UP is stunningly beautiful. Even I have a hard time believing it exists when I’m there! I’m proud to say I took that photo of us with the camera on a tripod πŸ™‚ I’m just glad it’s better than the usual selfie at arm’s length πŸ˜‰

  8. Yowza, these are some awesome photos! You ought to sell them to the Tourist Board. My favorites are the still lake panorama with fall foliage and the large one of Tannery Falls. It is so great that you got to see the aurora. It doesn’t happen very often this far south, and the hills make it hard to see. I fantasize about taking one of those trips to Finland in March to see them.

    • Thanks Eliza! If I had any idea how to go about selling them, I would πŸ˜‰
      Tony (husband) and I seriously looked into visiting Iceland. We could’ve done it, but not the way we want to. Saving up for that trip!

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