Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Waterfalls.

The north western section of the U.P. is perhaps my favorite.

From Marquette we rode west to L'Anse, a small town at the tip of Keweenaw bay and the south east corner of the Keweenaw peninsula. Pulling in to L'Anse on a Friday night, we instinctively knew what was for dinner. FISH FRY!!! After riding 70+ miles and eating an all you can eat fish dinner we were feeling sluggish and not wanting to ride an additional 3 miles to the local campground. At a local church, we found a man outside to ask about close accommodations. He directed us to a spot which fit all of our requirements and then some. A short 200 yards away was a trial following the river along which locals camp.

As the river flows toward the lake small waterfalls cascade down the shale rock. (a recurring theme). Not only was the campsite close by, it was incredibly beautiful and FREE!

Once setting up camp, we became slightly hesitant when a couple different groups of hikers came walking down the trail. Instead of acting on our fears and telling us we had to leave and couldn't camp there, most stopped and supplied some friendly chat and smiles. Ira and I both give thumbs up to L'Anse.

Between L'anse and it's neighbor Baraga is a small shrine to the Bishop of Baraga also known as the Snowshoe Priest. It is an amazing bronze sculpture looking out over the Keweenaw bay.
Although I am slightly hesitant of praising the missionaries a lot of whom did more harm then good to the native people they were working with, this is not the case with Father Baraga. He spoke multiple native languages writing many of the first dictionaries of Chippewa and Ottawa among others. He worked as a translator and successfully fought to protect native lands in the area (the only protected native land in the U.P. of the time).

We headed across the base of the Keweenaw peninsula to Ontonagon and then over to the Porcupine Mountains. We rode through the park to the western end and camped along the Presque Isle River.

We spent a day hiking along the river (I'm sure you can guess where this is going...) and checked out the many waterfalls which follow the waters descent to Lake Superior. This is perhaps one of my top favorite spots on the planet (being only 30 miles from my hometown). The western bank of the river has a trail with boardwalks and stair cases making the waterfalls more accessible to children and beginning hikers.

I prefer the eastern bank, an older trail which climbs in a constant up and down fashion from the river bank to the clay cliffs 30-40 ft above. The banks of the river consist of steep red clay cliffs covered in old growth of mostly cedar, white pine, and birch. Old growth does not mean virgin. The timber in this area was probably harvested in the mid 1800's but have been left undisturbed since that time. The cliffs are steep so erosion is a problem. Many times along the trial, it is necessary to climb over trees which have fallen over because their roots were unable to compete with gravity. You can also climb out on the rocks and get very close to the falls on the eastern side. However, the trail is not always kept up as well as the more traveled western side. At one point the trail had us climbing up a huge decomposing cedar tree trunk as a type of bridge. It was very sketchy looking.

Near the mouth of the river, the river separates into two branches creating a "presque isle" in the center. The eastern branch is very calm where the western branch is very fast moving. On this side, the water spirals and has dug multiple semi circular pockets in the sandstone river bank creating small whirl pools.

Emerging from the dense forest onto the shores of Lake Superior is truly a magnificent experience.

We were lucky to have amazing weather the day of our hike.

Our campsite was nestled in above the lake up a 20 Ft cliff. We hiked down to the rocky beach to see the sunset.

I can never get sick of seeing a Lake Superior Sunset. (I hope you aren't yet either because here are more pics!)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to the UP! I live in L'Anse and was just doing a search and came across your blog! I love the pictures! Good job on your trek!