Day 6 was largely a travel day. We slept in a little and got on the road a little later than planned. We drove seven hours (MapQuest predicted 6, Google Maps predicted 7, and the built-in GPS in Candy’s car predicted 9) to Munising, MI. Munising is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior. After checking into our hotel and stopping by the visitor’s center, we drove out to Chapel Falls for a four-mile hike.
The falls were quite nice, and the hike was pleasant. One of the things we learned at the visitor’s center was that the town’s Fourth of July fireworks had to be postponed due to an electrical storm. They were set for that night, the 5th of July, and the woman at the visitor’s center bragged that they were the best fireworks anywhere — “way better than Marquette, which is ten times our size.” It didn’t get dark in Munising until 11:00 PM. We staked out a piece of lawn in Munising’s Bayshore Park, played a few hands of Phase 10, and waited for them to begin. They were, in fact, a tremendous fireworks display, which lasted a half hour. Ten minutes after the fireworks, we had walked back to our motel and prepared for bed.
Day 7: The reason we came to Munising was to see Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Pictured Rocks was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson and was the first National Lakeshore. The rocks themselves are a light gray color, but are stained different colors from the various minerals leeching through the rocks. Green comes from copper, for instance, and red comes from iron.
Lake Superior is the largest, deepest, and cleanest of the Great Lakes. It averages 40 degrees throughout the year. At it’s widest (at Musining), it is 62 miles wide. Ten percent of the world’s fresh water is contained in Lake Superior. It’s deepest point is about 26 miles north of Munising, which I think is about 1300 feet.
We took a boat cruise to see the rocks. The cruise took about three hours, which seemed a little overly long. You can see some of the rock formations from the various hiking paths along shore, but you really cannot get the full impact of the Pictured Rocks except by boat.
The favorite food in the UP is apparently pasties (pastie rhymes with nasty). The place with the reputation for making the best pasites in the UP is Muldoon’s, in Munising. After a tremendous lunch of pasties, we drove into the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore to see Miner’s Falls.
We took a hike out to Miner’s Falls. The walk was short, perhaps 1.2 miles. Despite walking through deep woods, there were surprisingly few bugs.
We then drove several hours to get to Tahquamenon Falls. These falls actually consist of the Upper Falls and five sets of falls, known collectively as the Lower Falls.
There were signs all over near the Lower Falls warning people to stay out of the water because of swift currents and dangerous undertows. Still there were lots of folks wading at the top of the various Lower Falls. When the land was deeded to the State of Michigan (this is a State park), there was a stipulation that no cars could come within 3/4 of a mile of the shorelines, so all the parking lots were far removed from the falls.
We had planned to drive from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls. We discovered that there was a four-mile trail from the Lower Falls area tot he Upper Falls area. Candy and Sam weren’t interested, but Tom and I decided to walk the trail. Candy and Sam drove around to the Upper Falls and waited for us.
I took this picture with the timer on the camera. We saw little wildlife during our four-mile hike. Though the river was clear, we saw no fish. The trail was well marked. Because this hike was impromptu, we didn’t have hiking shoes. Despite the hike being mostly uphill, it was a relatively easy walk, and we enjoyed it.
We met Candy and Sam at the top of the trail and walked to the overlooks to view the Upper Falls. They were quite impressive, as you can see.
After a quick dinner (I had another pastie), we headed to our motel. We watched an episode of El Fago Baca (an adventure story from Walt Disney Presents), and prepared for bed. Tomorrow we’re off to Mackinaw Island.