Picture yourself standing on a cliff above a crystal-clear lake, which is pounding a rugged shoreline. Maybe you can see a freighter in the distance, plowing its way toward the Soo Locks. Along the shore is an old shipwreck, one of many that line the bottom of this enormous lake. A brilliant blue sky allows maximum sunlight to filter through the thick canopy of birch, maple, and pine. It’s perfect. Now, take yourself out of the picture, and insert the Crankshaws. Because….here we are at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Oh man, have we ever picked the perfect time to be here. Solitude, great weather, and NO FLIES!
We’ve spent a terrific week exploring this area on foot and bike. We selected the Lower Hurricane Campground, a rustic campground which is part of the National Lakeshore, for our first port. Our Geezer Pass allows us to camp for just a few bucks a night. We’re 100 yards from Lake Superior, which we can hear crashing around out there, although we can’t see it from our site.
I’ll spare you the step by step of our area exploration. We took in Sable Falls,and the Logjam Overlook. This is the area where where logs were pushed down a chute (of sorts) to the lake for transport. We saw some of the old horse-drawn, big wheels which hauled the timber.One other day, we hiked to the 1874 Au Sable Light Station. Imagine living in a remote cedar swamp, where snowfall totals each year regularly top 150″. All supplies were brought in by ship every couple of months, provisioned by the government. Adequate, but nothing extra. Lots of hard work, punctuated periodically by surprise inspections.As well as the lighthouse keeper’s house (above), we did get to climb into the lighthouse tower, and go outside onto the narrow balcony at the very top. What a treat, and what a fantastic view!On the hike back to camp, we climb on 100 year old shipwrecks – three are washed ashore near the lighthouse.We hiked to Chapel Rock and Chapel Falls. Chapel Rock is the “perfect Michigan bonsai”, as another hiker described it to us. Two thick roots attach the lone pine tree atop this huge sandstone rock to the mainland. The rest of the rock crumbled away in 1940, leaving the tree on its lonely rock island. It’s spectacular.Chapel Beach is a great spot for lunch before we begin the 3-1/2 mile trek back to the Trailhead.So many beautiful sights in this 40 mile National Lakeshore. Miner’s Rock.The UP is home to many waterfalls, and we have explored several, although my photographic abilities don’t quite match my enthusiasm. So, you’ll just have to imagine….
We continue our coastal westward march to Munising, where we land at the Tourist Park, a busy RV park. Not our favorite kind of camp by any means, but a great jumping-off place for our next adventure – a day of mountain biking on Grand Island. Stay tuned.