Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Porcupine Mountains

IMG_5643The Ontonagon Indians thought the rounded silhouette of these mountains along Lake Superior looked like Porcupines and the name stuck, so to speak.
    … moans…

We arrived at the pretty Ontonagon Township Park after a short ride in the rain.
 IMG_5526It was clearing as we picked our a site in the nearly deserted back tier; the lake view sites were filled, of course, but the sunset was shared by all. We did a few household chores and rested some more.  Patty is feeling better as time passes, so we took a short walk and noticed that the sun sets here at 10PM!!! We will be getting a late start tomorrow.


It’s a short 20 miles to the park Visitor Center from here, mostly along the shoreline.  Local businesses of all kinds are shuttered and for sale. Only a couple of Motels and one food place are open near the park.
The center was well done and we got our directions to the highlights –- the Lake in the Clouds, Summit Observation Tower and the waterfalls where the Presque Isle River drops into the Lake.
Still taking it easy, we explored by auto and caught two naturalist programs. We now know most of the secrets of Beavers – from brand new ranger Lynette Score.  (yea, we know “Rangers SCORE!”) IMG_5547
She did a great job -- had the kids waddling like beavers, dressing up in flippers, goggles, waterproofs, insulation layers and earplugs, etc.,etc. .

The Lake of the Clouds drains out into a beaver flowage and it is easy to see from the high Escarpment trail.
Best hidden “find” was a Interpretive Trail to the old Union River mine.  It was a short hike and the signs of the early mining efforts would be had to see without  help, but the trail followed the Gorge of the upper Union River. a tiny wonderland of waterfalls, and curving drops all carved from solid Basalt.

In a windy cove near 7PM, we assembled to hear Ranger Bob brief us on the art of Agate hunting. As he was getting underway, a lone Bald Eagle coasted into view and hovered overhead.
“Never follow an animal act, Bob.” 
We weren’t blessed with any Agates, but we had fun.


Have I mentioned we LOVE this place?  Today we had our picnic packed and were ready for adventure.  Well, if our talking doesn’t  take too much time…
We climbed the Summit Overlook and saw oceans of green with a big lake beyond, ho hum.  But we did chat with a couple from last night’s Agate hunt.  He was a real rock hound and both were generous with suggestions for our Michigan travels. While at Presque Isle, we found another friend from last night. Not surprisingly Pam had  pockets full of rocks.  She is working on a fifteen acre “park” at home and needs rather significant numbers of rocks.
Is that Fog out there?, I asked Bruce and a conversation that spanned continents and decades ensued.  He is a fascinating guy and a treasure trove of information on mining in the area, shipping on the lakes and much, much more.  Like the others, he freely shared his knowledge and friendship.  We know that the best part of our travels are these conversations and we never hurry away. 

When the Presque Isle River reaches Lake SuperiorIMG_5599 it crashes over a series of awesome waterfalls and down a gorge carved into solid rock.  The Park has provided a sturdy boardwalk along the way which allows close examination of the swirls and whirlpools.IMG_5617



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