michigan upper peninsula 2013 ... part 2

Friday:

Friday morning we awoke to a think blanket of fog covering the greater Munising area. We could not see more then 100 ft across the Bay from our window, and I believe it actually extended much further east, past Grand Marais. Not being ones to shy away from a little weather, we dressed and headed out to a local visitor center in search of activities in the area not requiring visibility at great distances. We procured a map of the area which was dotted with waterfalls and lighthouses. Given the temperature was in the low 60's, and that was as warm as it was going to get, we decided to take advantage of the fact we could get away with wearing pants and jackets to fend off mosquitoes and go for some hikes. Our first stop was the Horseshoe Falls and Gift Shop, just a stones throw from the visitor center. This waterfall is on private land so it will cost you to get in to see it. I was a bit skeptical, but it is only money, so we gave it a try. They do a very nice job of maintaining the grounds and walking path back to the falls. They also have a very nice trout pond where you can feed the fish o the ducks, depends on who gets there first). The falls were lovely, and we got a chance to feed ducklings right out of our hands, so it was worth the price of admission ($6/person).

We left this area in search of Wagner Falls a short trip down the road. These falls are on public/park land, so no admission, and the path and viewing platforms were also will maintained. It is a short 5 minute walk from the parking area and also well worth the time. We realized we had not had a proper breakfast yet, so we headed over to a local establishment called The Dogpatch. We missed breakfast hours, so lunch it was. Not a bad restaurant, but not a great restaurant either. Prices were reasonable and the fare was better then a diner. They have a gift shop as well (we soon came to the realization that almost every establishment has a gift shop in this town).

Our next stop was the Munising Falls, another publicly accessible area, with a very well maintained path and viewing area. There are a few steps to some viewing platforms on either side of the falls, which were very manageable. Close to the same area are the Tannery Falls. This was a bit more of a hike. With no paved paths or well maintained stairs, this is a bit more effort to get to. The hike is about 15 minutes into the woods, over some steep terrain, but the view is worth it. The number of people on the path is almost none, so we had the place to ourselves (along with a few thousand mosquitoes, but the Deep Woods Off was doing it's job).

Having covered the local falls, we hopped in the car and headed to Miner's Castle/Miner's Falls, a short trip down H-58. Miner's Castle is a sandstone rock formation along the coast in the Pictured Rocks park. On a clear day, you can see Grand Island easily. On this day, not so much (see fog above). We still took it in stride and enjoyed the limited views of Lake Superior. After a brief rest we were back in the car heading towards Miner's Falls, just a short drive back down the road which took us to Miner's Castle. The hike is a bit longer then the rest of the walks we took, about 1.2 miles round trip. The paths were well maintained and wide. The viewing platform offered a stunning view of the falls, but even being dowsed in Deep Woods Off, the mosquitoes were relentless, so we only stayed a moment. After making tracks back to the car, we were back on H-58.

Our next destination was the Hurricane River Campgrounds, about 12 miles west of Grand Marais. The reason was to view the Au Sable Lighthouse, a remote (only on foot) decommissioned light about 3 miles round trip hike from the parking lot. The light is now maintained by the national park service, and is still under development. The guides gave us a historical account of how the lighthouse came to be and how it got to the state it is today. Still in very good condition, we were able to catch the last tour of the day (about $3/person) to the top of the lighthouse (about 97 steps). On a clear day you can see the Au Sable sand dunes to the east, but it was just not happening with the persistent fog. We took pictures a-plenty and began out hike back to the car (the hike is through the woods, so the mosquitoes were in tow). The fun part of the hike was when one of the volunteers offered to give us a lift in the back of her pickup about 10 minutes into our hike (what luck). She could not take us all the way to the car, but it shaved about 10-15 minutes off of our hike.

We stopped over to Grand Marais for provisions (candy bars and water) before heading back to Munising, still an hour away. When we were getting closer, we called in a pizza to the Main Street Pizza company (it was pizza friday after all) and headed back to the motel to dine and collapse from the insane amount of hiking we packed in. The Main Street Pizza company gets a thumbs up, it was good pizza and very good service, offering us paper plates and utensils to take back with us.

Saturday deserves it's own post...so that will be soon...