Tahquamenon Falls & Pictured Rocks, August 2000

Day 3



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Click here for map, mileage and trail elevation information - Tahquamenon Falls
Click here for map, mileage and trail elevation information - Pictured Rocks

We made quick work of breakfast and packing away the tent and our gear on Wednesday morning. We had to be in Munising by noon to make sure we didn't miss our reservations with the transportation service that was going to take us to our starting point. When we arrived in Munising, we parked in the lot near the National Park Service building and went inside. The NPS ranger reviewed our itinerary, went over the seven leave no trace principles of being in the backcountry, explained to us how to best prevent and possibly deal with the local bear population and then gave us our backcountry permit. We spent the last 20 minutes filling our water bottles and making last minute checks. The Altran shuttle bus arrived on time at 1:00 p.m. and took us to our starting point near Little Beaver Lake about a 20-30 minute drive away. The last several miles of the drive was down a dirt road that was just barely a few inches wider than the shuttle bus itself. There were trees on both sides of the road edge which would have made it impossible to pull off to the side had another vehicle been traveling in the opposite direction.

We got off the shuttle and immediately began our hike which started in dense forest and cool shade. Having never hiked through bear country I thought this might be a good place to see one. I kept a watchful eye toward the horizon all around us and also at the trail for signs that bear may be in the area, but I didn't find anything interesting. A short time later we emerged from the trees into an open, grassy field dotted with an occasional tree. We hiked through the field a short distance and eventually came to the edge of Beaver Lake. By now the sun was high in the sky and there was a gentle, refreshing breeze whisking through trees. The view was nice and it was getting hot so we took off the backpacks to take a break. We walked out into the lake for a while looking for a good spot to do some fishing, but soon gave up the idea of catching any fish due to the very shallow water which extended quite a way out into the lake.

We eventually resumed our hike toward the Coves group camp area which was our stop for the night. We again headed back into the forested area of the lakeshore and found the trail to be relatively easy. A short distance from the Beaver Creek camp area we used a nice a-frame log bridge to cross a river that emerged from the woods and flowed into Lake Superior. Just downstream from the bridge was a big log jam that choked the river to the point that it was not possible to see the river below all the weather-worn dead trees. About an hour later we arrived at the location where we expected to find the Coves camp area, but to our dismay, it was nowhere to be found. We were both ready to call an end to the hiking because we were ready for dinner, but we would not be able to do that until we found our camp site. We felt sure we were in the right area but we did not find any signs that confirmed our thoughts. We decided to split up and look for the camp area. After approximately 15 minutes of hard searching, we finally stumbled across the group camp area. We both agreed that the camp area and other places of interest were not as well marked as they had been on Isle Royale. As a matter of fact, we did not even see a sign anywhere near the Coves camp that would have directed us off the main trail. After we set up camp I spoke to another hiker who told me that she too felt that things were not very clearly marked.

We chose to have some Velveeta shells and cheese for dinner along with a couple other foods. Since we needed to refill our water bottles and get water for dinner we decided to just stay down by the lake. We hung our toothpaste and the food we were not going to use from the bear pole nearby and then took our dinner, pots, water bottles, stove and the water filter down to lake and began to filter our water. When we finally had enough water we fired up the stove and waited for the cold, Lake Superior water to come to a boil. While dinner was cooking I stopped to talk to another hiker who was filtering water from the lake. She said she and her boyfriend had just finished a several day hike at the Porcupine Mountains on the western side of the Upper Peninsula and then came to the Pictured Rocks for another hike. She said they had not seen any bear here, however, the Porcupine Mountains were supposedly well known for its bear population and they apparently found out the hard way. When they returned to their vehicle at the end of their hike they discovered that a curious bear had been there before they arrived. They had inadvertently left a roll of sweet tarts in the center console between the front seats. The bear smelled it from outside, broke out the window and tore up the inside of their car in an attempt to retrieve the sweet smelling treat. Apparently there was another vehicle that suffered a similar fate except the bear walked all over that vehicle and dented up the roof and hood. We ate dinner on beach, cleaned up the silverware and dishes and then relaxed on the sand as the sun began to set and the cool air blew in off of Lake Superior. It was a relaxing end to the day after the hiking.

Prior to leaving for this trip Ken checked the Space Weather web site for the most up-to-date solar forecast. The most recent data predicted a decent amount of geomagnetic activity for this latitude. Since the temperature was dropping steadily and there were no clouds in the sky it appeared as though we may have a good opportunity to see the northern lights. We set the alarm on my watch and woke up at 1:00 a.m. since the northern lights seem to be more prevalent after local midnight. We slowly made our way through the trees and down onto the beach with the small amount of light being produced by a mini maglite flashlight. We had to dress in a couple layers of clothes because the night air near Lake Superior was rather breezy and chilly. When we arrived at the beach we immediately discovered thousands of points of light mixed in with ghostly shades of red and green light dancing across the sky to the north just above the pitch black lake. We brought our cameras just in case we were fortunate enough to see such a sight. For the next hour we took numerous pictures at various settings and exposure lengths in hopes of capturing what we were seeing. Just as we were becoming too cold to continue we could see the horizon becoming brighter off to the east above the treeline; it was the moon rising. I managed to get a nice picture of the treeline, the northern lights and the moon just as it was appearing over the top of the trees. After this final picture we returned to the campsite and went to sleep for the rest of the night.

Miles covered today: 6.0
Total trip miles: 15.5

Day 4


This page last updated on 02-25-2016 @ 11:22 AM