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 🙂 )

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 🙂

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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Falling into a New Year

The day before we returned home from Ohio, Mom invited me to go exploring in the Fallsville area again in what I think (and hope) is becoming a tradition. A winter storm had glazed southern Ohio in ice, and then partially covered its masterpiece with a light frosting of snow. What more excuse did we need to traipse by the falls, just to see what we could see. Nevermind that I had well over a 102-degree fever. Everyone goes hiking in the snow and ice with a high fever and flu, right? Continue reading

Cool Winds and Hail Storms: Recipe for Fall Perfection

Today was astonishingly beautiful – one of those dramatic days that seems only to occur in the fall. We awoke to mid-forties and the freshness of a just-passed rainstorm. I grabbed a couple of tomatoes for breakfast, and then we headed to Short’s for lunch (squash bisque, if you’re interested, and perfect for a crisp first day of fall) followed by a drive around Torch Lake.

Red (and beige) barn


breakfast


A pretty good stand-in for British soldier lichen


Sheitlers’ (neighbors) pasture, before lunch


The back pasture again, after our adventure


Continue reading

A Falls-less Fallsville

After work this afternoon, mom and I wound our way over to the Fallsville Wildlife Area. I could be making this up, but the area is named, presumably, after the waterfalls formed when the Clear Creek cascades over a 15-foot drop. Or it does in non-drought-at-the-end-of-August. I’ve been there when there’s water in the creek, and the falls are a beautiful surprise amidst the area’s usual pastoral scenery.





Mom and I simply enjoyed hiking the dry creek bed this time. Much of the exposed rock was so dry that the normally slippery algae was instead a dry crust. The area still held unexpected beauty; more leaves than I had expected were tinged with gold, and the very occasional breeze whispered through them, providing a nice soundtrack where the falls failed.


At the beginning of our descent into the falls area, I tried to spy another, easier way down to the falls. (Remember – my mom just had that surgery, regaining her ability to for-real-walk back in June.) She hopped down  – a drop of about five feet in a tight, rocky crevice – and beckoned. Well, obviously I was underestimating her (sorry Mom!).




We clambered over rocky outcroppings and tumbled stones, until the puddles of creek disappeared from view. Despite the heat and sweat dripping down my back (thanks, camera bag), we had a great time. I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to shopping for our “girl time” when the weather worsens, but it’s great to get out for a brief hike together again!

I love you Mom. Please forgive my use of this picture that I also love 🙂

Exploring the Huron Side

Yesterday afternoon we decided to take a driving tour of the northern lower peninsula and the Lake Huron coast. We’ve been on the east coast of the state once since we moved here over two years ago, and we didn’t really even get out of the car. Since it was such a steamy day, we didn’t do too much adventuring, but even so, we ran across a few gems. Continue reading