Wednesday, August 20, 2008
As we hiked up the hill to Potato Patch on day one of our pictured rocks hike we noticed a pretty substantial patch of THIMBLEBERRIES. The patch here was not quite ripe, but we did find one or two that were bright red and ready for eating. A bunch of years ago i camped in this particular campground and had a huge bowl of thimbleberry oatmeal! Thimbleberries are a species of plant very sensitive to air temps above 80 degrees and are therefore found only along cool stretches of Lake Superior shoreline.
As we hiked along past Chapel Beach and Chapel rock we finally came to the beautiful spray falls. Imagine what this tiny little river must look like in spring (say early May) when the 200+ inches of snowfall fills its tiny riverbed. It must be a huge eruption of water over the cliff's edge!
Filtering water at the lakshore's edge is a fact of life on a backcountry hike in the UP. To be honest, I bet you could get away with drinking lake superior water when you're 20 miles from the nearest town, but why take a chance?
Where else can you get 6 foot waves, 65 degree temperatures, and 20mph winds on August 9th? 12 mile beach, that's where.
There is something so elemental, so primitive, so soul quenching about sitting by a fire after a long day walking. Its the perfect end to a perfect day after a big meal.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Pics above are -
1. Blueberry Pancakes
2. Beaver Creek bridge
3. THE GRAND PORTAL
4. Miner's beach just before Potato Patch.
Well, after 8 days in the bush i'm back to reality... Spent four days hiking with Andrew then four more with the GHS XC team at our team camp - all in Munising!! Wahoo. Here is a brief report on the hiking trip.
Day One - We left Gaylord about 7am, arrived in Grand Marais about 10am. Went directly to the Grand Sable Visitors Center and registered, paid our fee, then ate up our sub sandwiches I packed up. ALTRAN (Alger County Public Transport) picks up hikers (for a $20 fee) and shuttles them from one end of Pictured Rocks to the other, so we ate and waited for it. We were on the shuttle at exactly 11:30 am and arrived at Munising Falls about 12:30. A quick bathroom stop and top off the water bottles and we were off!! Munising Falls has a small little visitor center with fresh drinking water so hikers don't need their water filters for a while. The uphill section to start off the trail is a bit of a tough way to start, but it simply takes you to the top of the cliffs then levels off. The first section over to Miner's Castle is pretty flat and has some nice waterfalls, views of Grand Island, boardwalks, and dense forests. The typical temperature here is around 65-70 degrees even in the heat of summer - Lake Superior breezes and dense forest shade ensure comfortable hiking. The cool temps also foster the growth of some plant and fern species you won't see many other places in the midwest - Thimbleberry, Devil's club. We arrived at Miner's Castle in about 3 hours (7 miles exactly) to FRESH drinking water, bathrooms and an amazing view of the rock formations. There is a small visitor center here and if you forgot a book you can purchase one at the store! Civilization in the wilderness. After refilling the water bottles we hit the downhill to Miner's beach, crossed the Miner's River, and hiked the last 1.8 miles to Potato Patch - our desination campground for the day. The last 1/4 mile uphill is TOUGH going, but worth the view at the top. After dinner (seafood shrimp and crab on rice with fried onions) we went down to the beach and watched the sunset and explored the rocky shoreline. On a calm day you can go out to the point to the east. We hit the beds early today as we were pretty tired.
Day 2 - Potato Patch to Coves. This was by far our longest day of hiking over the toughest terrain - 12 miles of up and down hiking over roots, twists, and turns. Luckily there are beautiful sights every mile of two so we could stop, view, eat, drink and take it all in. Andrew's knee started to bother him a bit so we took it nice and easy with a good hour break at Chapel beach and tree. Arrived at Coves Campground about 5pm for a great dinner.
Day 3 - Coves to Benchmark. Flat flat flat but a bit sandy here. Right along the lakeshore with great views and cool wind. A few times we got downright chilly !! Funny feeling in August. Andrew's knee felt much better so we covered the 10 miles in about 4-4.5 hours. Packs feeling lighter all the time. Nice bridge at Beaver Creek, blueberries everywhere, amazing lunch of sausage and cheese and crackers at 7 mile creek made it a great day.
Day 4 - Up early and outta there so we could get home early. 8:30am start got us to Grand Sable visitors center about 12:30. We covered a good 10 miles quickly with some short stops at the lighthouse on Ausable point, Hurricane River (awesome), Log Slide (what a view). The trail here used to followed the road betweeen 12 mile campground and Hurricane, but they've since put in a new trail that goes through some old growth Hemlock that is beautiful. Quick wash up at the visitors center and off to the Dunes Saloon for lunch - !!! MMMMM GOOD way to end the trip.