This was to be a grand week long trip to the Upper Peninsula. I was to hit Pictured Rocks National Park
I headed out after completing a final exam at school. I made
the bridge to the U.P. around 6pm. After living in Michigan for most of my 32 years, this was actually the first time I was to cross the Mackinac Bridge
It was a very cool site. As I drove over, on my right was Mackinac Island, the summer tourist town for Michiganders.
That trip will have to be saved for another time. Due to it being the first week of May, pretty much everything in the U.P. was shut down and quiet, just the way I liked it. Here is a map of Michigan to show you what the U.P. looks like and where I crossed right at the 75 logo and the star representing my destination.
I drove along route 2 and noticed a shop selling Pasties
(not the stripper kind). It seemed to be some sort of baked calzone or
something. I drove a little farther, and saw another sign promoting them, then
another, and another. I felt like I was driving through Georgia, seeing
signs for pecans and boiled peanuts every 500 yards. Apparently, like certain
soils are perfect for producing wine, I guess the U.P. of Michigan
I arrived in Munising around 8pm, rented a room at the Days Inn and settled into dinner at Sidney’s Bar and Grille. If you did not know, I am a Vegetarian. I don’t think there are any Vegetarians in the U.P. Everyone eats meat, and I think most eat it fresh after a kill like true carnivores. I ordered fish, cheating, but it was that or mozzarella sticks.
After dinner I stopped by some of the falls in the area. Below are pictures of Wagner, Alger, Horseshoe and Munising.
Sitting in my plush room, I thought again about why I was
doing this and determined that I could not pass from this Earth without having
experienced everything. I can’t imagine not having the memories of Zion or Canyonlands (Utah
The next morning I ravished the breakfast bar. Reading up on Pictured Rocks and reviewing my plan of attack. You will see the rocks in later pictures, but while reading brochures I learned that the rocks are colored as the minerals seep out of the rocks and water washes them down the rock face. Rains clean the face and the process starts anew.
I also picked up a new knife this trip after my encounter with the Black Bear last week in Canada.
I will skip the Crocodile Dundee reference here, but this Bowie Knife, a gift from my father, should deter at least a small chipmunk, which I proved multiple times along the trail. Researching this trip I touched up on Bear survival skills. If one is more than 300ft away, you back away slowly, if less, you make a little noise so as not to startle it and slowly back away. Now is where it gets a bit interesting. If the bear rushes you, you want to climb a tree. Of course you must pick a tree that you can climb and the bear cannot. With a 45 lb pack on, I am pretty sure that tree does not exist. If the tree is not provided, you want to stand tall as it probably will bluff rush a couple times. When he actual attacks, you want to lie on your stomach, using your pack to protect your spine. If he paws and just sniffs you, you remain still. Once he decides to attack then you fight with knife, spray, gun, hands, throwing stars, etc. My thinking is; that is a very fine line between the playing dead and fighting back. I can see myself now, lying on my stomach as the bear is pawing me, then starting to nibble on my head. I would be like, ok was that an attack or was he just exploring, should I fight now or wait until I lose the other ear, I don’t really need both.
Back to the story. I dropped my pack at Beaver Lake
Below is the map detailing my path and a milage chart that will help you.
The bike trip was 25 miles and it was up and down large hills. I noticed each of these hills in the car as I drove this route, whispering to myself, “That is gonna suck.” This one hill was especially hard and I vowed in the car ride that when I got to it on my bike I would not sit down on my seat until I reached the top. As I came upon the peak on my bike, I mentally prepared, and began the ascent, charging slower and slower as Rocky climbed the snowy mountains of Russia in the Fourth generation of the series. At the top, I nearly died, and with a last gasp, I let out a resounding, “Drago!.....Drago!” (If you did not get that, you will not get most of my jokes, and for that I apologize and may God have mercy on your soul)
I finished the bike and now it was time to hike the 3rd leg of the triathlon. Oh, I did not explain this triathlon in my last blog from Canada. My version includes biking, walking and driving a car. Yes, it is true that my driving a car portion was yesterday, but it was in the same day last trip and I just forgot to mention it. And since no one is going to go back and read my other post, I will mention it here, besides, I have the keyboard and you will read whatever I have to say (When I say ‘you’ I really mean ‘I’). A brief expansion on the driving portion. Some may say that driving should not be part of the new triathlon, but anyone who drives 7 hours, knows the toll it takes. The only thing I can imagine to be harder sitting down in a passive position is sitting through a 7 hour round of interviews for a job. Afterwards you need a nap.
I made the 25 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes. I think that is around 15 or 16 miles an hour. Don’t try to recalculate because I am sure I am wrong. One impressive feat I relearned during the trip was how to ride a bike with no hands. I had not done this since I was about 15. Of course I tried it in college a few times with my friend’s bikes on the way home from the bar, but always ended up mangling the bike. Usually ending up with conversations in the dining hall the next morning that went like this:
I hiked through forest for a bit before reaching Lake Superior
Once I hit the coast I started my 20 mile journey along the cliff and back to the car. I did not see anyone the first day. Here is a nice shot of an artery in my face about to burst.
I passed such
spots on the map I showed above as Chapel Rock,Spray Falls
At Mosquito Campgrounds I found I spot 50 feet above the water and settled in after preparing dinner on the beach.
The second day rained like crazy and I double-timed it back to the car by noon. If I had it over I would probably only hike to Miner's Castle as the remaining 4 miles was a boring hike through the forest.
After picking up a paper at the gas station to check forecast, and retrieving by camouflaged bike I determined that a 4 hour trip towards Wisconsin was not in the cards for me. In the future, I would like to return to Munising to visit Grand Island, famous for mountain biking and dives on shipwrecks.
I decided to spend my day bouncing around the Eastern section of the UP taking pictures of everything strange I saw. I stooped at this natural spring. I included the picture with explanation. You pull yourself on the glass bottom raft across the spring and can look down and see the sand bubbling where the water is seeping in.
I stopped at a few Cabins to grab some shots as well.
The find of the trip was this guy’s permanent garage sale pictured here. It was crazy. It covered a couple acres. Everything was sorted in piles according to random terms. It was the precursor to EBay. The great part was that each product was priced with a crayon. There was window frames for a $1.50, toilets for $5.00. It was a bit scary as I knew the owner probably lived in one the shacks I passed as would suddenly pop out with barrels blazing. I wanted to talk to him, find out what was going on in the mind of this extreme pack rat, but it was not to be.
I also stopped at the “Mystery Spot” that was promoted all along the highway. You can read the description plaque below.Notice the part of the sign that says, "Open Rain or Shine" is covered with sign, "Closed."
It was kinda funny as the only thing they were promoting was this room built on an angle so it looked like you were in a sideways house…..and they offered guided tours for this crap. It was closed, so like many things I engaged on this trip, I took the liberty of a free, self-guided tour.
There was tons of cut timber throughout the trip. I won't get into a speech about logging...but I should.
On the way back I stopped in the town of St.Ignace before crossing the bridge and stopping by historic Ft Mackinac. This tourist town that was pretty quiet for another week.
It was a short trip, but an entertaining one. Once I got back I headed to REI and started my quest to become an ultralight backpacker, allowing me to increase my distances and save my back.
Until next time.
If you would like to see any of the above pictures in higher resolution click below