Friday, August 19, 2011

Iron River, MI

In Iron River, I stayed at the Iron River RV park.  It is a city park and just beside the Apple Blossom Trail – a multi-use trail.  I walked 4 miles most mornings on the trail.  The picture below was taken from the trail, just a few feet from the campground.


I got a quick laugh over their “pet sign”.


There are more waterfalls in the area and some good hiking.  One day, I went to the Sylvania Wilderness which is in the Ottawa National Forest.  I was a bit concerned when told that the trail wasn’t marked that well.  It is a 8-mile hike around the lake, but I figured as long as I kept the lake on my left I would eventually make it around.  I did have a map and noticed that part of the trail left the lake for a while.  During that time I got a bit concerned that I had somehow gotten on the wrong trail (there were supposed to be a couple of intersections that I never saw).  But I managed it ok.  I did lose the trail a couple of times, but my theory of keeping the lake on my left worked.  I was hoping to see some Loons and as soon as I got out of the car, I heard them.  I was lucky that they were still fairly close to shore when I got to the lake.

On the trail, I saw some Indian Pipe and an interesting plant that covered the ground in some areas-


I spent a few minutes relaxing by the lake before finishing up the hike. 


Another interesting hike was Piers Gorge.  This gorge was formed by the Menominee River. 

Many of the trees seemed to stretch out at the bottom and hold onto the ground.  I’m sure it has to do with the type tree or soil or something, but I thought it was interesting.

I found the green fungus intriguing.

More Waterfalls---  Bond Falls is a beautiful waterfall with very little walking to get there.  I got there very early in the morning for hopefully some good shots.  It is so wide that I couldn’t get a decent picture in one shot and I have a fairly wide angle lens.

Bond Falls – right side (note the morning mist) -

Left side -

Below is the best shot I could get of the full falls.


They had built some stairs that took you up to the top, but the stairs were so close to the falls that the water had started running over the stairs.  A bit slippery, but made for an interesting view from the side of the falls. 


I also went to Agate falls, but the trail didn’t really get to a good view of the falls.  While at the Ranger station, I asked about it and a ranger told me that I would have to jump the fence to get a food view.  I thought it was funny that a ranger would suggest I jump the fence. 

On the same day as Bond and Agate Falls, I went to O Kun de Kun Falls.  But I didn’t make it to the falls.  The trail was extremely overgrown and I wasn’t in the mood to go very far down the trail.

If anyone goes to the Upper Peninsula, 2 great websites are - Hunts upguide and Great Lakes Waterfalls and beyond.

From here I head down to Menominee, MI.

Baraga, Michigan

As I mentioned in my previous blog, my next stop was Baraga.  This was originally just supposed to be a quick stop at a place with full hook-ups ($20.00 for Full Hook-ups and Cable, but basically in a parking lot), but I read about some hiking nearby so I checked it out. 

My first stop was to Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness.  Of course the highlight was Sturgeon Falls, but just before I got to the falls I spooked a Bald Eagle (actually he spooked me!).  He flew about 15 feet in front of me.   Even though I‘ve seen quite a few Eagles in my travels, it’s still exciting to see one!  Quite often on hikes you see signs saying what can or can not be on the trail – bikes, atvs, horses…  But I had never seen this one --


Hang Gliders – While this is a gorge, I didn’t really see a place for hang gliding!!

Sturgeon Falls -


My next stop was to Canyon Falls.  This is a hike that is also a rest area at the trail head.  Which makes the hike a bit more crowded than I like.  But it is a beautiful place.  I first hiked this mid-day and that’s typically not a good time to take pictures.  The first picture below is from that day.  Then I went back about 7:00 am to get pictures before the sun was high.



While the blue sky is nice, I like being able to see the rocks and the falls!  To my surprise, the trail continued on.  Most people turned around at the waterfalls and I think missed some great scenic views.





Next stop Iron River, MI

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Copper Harbor, MI – Fort Wilkins State Park

My next stop was Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Mi.  The campground is on a small strip of land between Lake Superior and Lake Fanny Hooe.  I could see Lake Fanny Hooe from my site, even though I was one row from the lake. 

The above picture was taken from Brockway Mountain Scenic drive.  It shows the strip of land between the 2 lakes that I just mentioned. 

Several mornings, I used their 2-mile loop trail as my morning walk.  This way I walked beside both lakes and through the woods – a nice way to start the day.

One cloudy morning -


More pictures of Lake Superior from the campground -


While driving around the area one day, I happened to see a bald eagle on some rocks in the lake.

Then at a roadside park, I was surprised to see this -

Scuba divers. 

There is a bakery in one of the small towns called Jampot, it is run by the monks from the Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite.   I believe this is the Monastery, which is just down the road from the bakery.  

The State Park is an old fort.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m not really into history, but I was here so I visited.

This isn’t what I think of as a typical fort, but this was built to keep order in the Keweenaw Peninsula. 

I was looking at the fence and wondering if the sharpened fence post would really keep anyone out. 

I visited another mine, this time the Delaware mine.  As you can see in the picture below the level just below the one I toured is flooded.

The older buildings are not as well preserved as the one I visited the week before.

Another day I hiked a trail in Estivant Pines.  I really enjoyed the hike, but really never saw anything great.  The only picture I took was the one letting me know where I was -

While on the hike, I started thinking about hikes.  Sometimes I enjoy hiking to see one (or more) scenic areas like waterfalls or rock formations, but this was enjoyable just because it was a nice walk in the woods.

From here I headed back south (I’m as far north as I can go!).  I stayed at a casino in Baraga for a couple of days, just to run errands and then headed down to Iron River where I currently am.

I will blog about that later.

Houghton, MI - Keweenaw Peninsula

My next stop was in Houghton, Michigan.  I stayed at the City of Houghton RV park, which is right on the river.  This is a great place to stay, but I would strongly suggest reservations.  This is one of the few places that I have seen recently that was completely full.

The above picture was taken looking out my RV window.  The boat is the Ranger, which is a National Park service boat that goes to Isle Royal National Park.  The headquarters/boat dock is about 1.5 miles from my campground. 

There was a great paved walking/running trail that went beside the river, from the campground, under Portage Bridge, thru town and beyond.  I walked 3 – 5 miles most mornings on this trail.

Portage Bridge, taken with my new phone on a morning walk -


Another view of the river and Portage Bridge -


An interesting tree/bush beside the trail -



While in Houghton, I went to Quincy Mine.  This is a National Historical Park.  At the mine I saw the world’s largest steam hoist, went into a copper mine and learned about copper mining. 

A huge piece of copper -


People on my tour in the mine -

Above is a “man-car” that was used to carry up to 30 people down into the mine.  The mine shaft had a depth of 6,225 feet with 92 working levels.  That’s deep underground!  Most of the levels are now flooded.

On another day, I was driving by the mine and saw a bunch of old cars (I think Model A’s).  With these parked beside an old office at the mine it kind of looked like I had gone back in time!!

One day, I took a driving tour up the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  There was a roadside park called Brunette Park, where I enjoyed my lunch.  The rock formations in Lake Superior were very interesting at this park.  In one direction the rocks were red and beige – almost bacon like and in the other gray shale-like rock.

Coming back down the peninsula, I stopped at the Snow Thermometer Park.  The “thermometer” shows how much it has snowed in the past. The most was 390.4 inches.  That’s more than 32 feet of snow!  I don’t think I would want to be here in the winter!!

I also went to F. J. Mclain State Park for a quick walk at the lake. 

In Houghton, I found a great Chinese restaurant – JJ’s Chinese Wok and Grill.  Their food was a bit different from the typical Chinese restaurant, but they had a dish called Chicken Hurricane that reminded me of a place that my sister and I used to go to a long time ago.  I ended up eating there twice in one week.  Yumm!!!

Next I head up the peninsula to Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park–part 2

Sometimes while at Lake Superior, I feel like I’m at the ocean. 

I went on a small hike that wasn’t that great, but saw one of the most imaginative signs at the trail head.

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought a huge shovel at a trail that is around an old mine was smart.

I read a couple of places that Lake of the Clouds was one of the most scenic areas in the park.  I liked it, but I liked other areas better.

I hiked down to the lake and would have gone further, but it was one of the hot days so I decided not to go to far since I had to hike back up the hill.

An area just outside of the Porkies is the Black River Harbor area in the Ottawa National Forest.  This area has more hikes and waterfalls, the first is Potawatomi Falls.

Gorge Falls -

While not the largest falls, my favorite in the area was Sandstone Falls.   I liked the falls and the area around the falls. 

Note the person on the rocks on the right side of the falls, that gives you an idea as to the size of the falls.

I found the conglomerate rock interesting, and the erosion here created a small arch. 

I read about another waterfall close to my campground, so I checked it out one afternoon.  When I got there I thought it was ok, but not too exciting compared to the others in the area.

But then I realized that you could walk out on the rocks  (the ones on the right of the picture above) and get a close-up view of the small falls.  I ended up enjoying my time here.

From here, I headed up into the Keweenaw Peninsula for a week.  I’ll stop in Houghton, Mi first and then head to the top of the Peninsula and camp in Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Mi.  More about that in my next blog.