Day 6: Wednesday, June 16th
Wednesday morning, our first morning of camping out did not go well.
The previous night we had turned in when the weather looked like it was clearing. So, throwing caution to the wind we decided to leave the front lounging area of our tent open so as to better catch the breeze we hoped would keep us cool. We reasoned it did not matter if it got a little damp since it was completely separate from the sleeping area. And after all, if it rained it only meant the chairs and a few other things might get a little wet. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
We both awoke at various times during the night, we both heard it rain - and it rained hard! Did we get up and zip up the front fly? No. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
So, the next morning there was a small lake in the front area of the tent. Oh, and it seems we forgot about certain items we had left there. Like the Karst Works Giant Duffel with the extra bedding in it. It was sitting in a pool of water and had a pool of water on top of it. And all of Betsy's books and her journal. One book was ruined and the rest were water logged including her Peterson bird guide.
And, of course, our lounge chairs were saturated. What a mess! To top it all of it was still raining and we had breakfast to think about.
After surveying the dismal scene for a while we finally got dressed and set about the process of mopping the mess up. We moved everything out of the area and then, using an old towel I had thrown in at the last minute, I soaked up what the towel would take and we then rung it out and then over and over until 90% of the water was gone. The books we placed in the car in the hopes of getting them dried out at some point.
Now to breakfast - our first one camping in many years. Should we set up the stove and cook in the rain? I was game, but common sense (re: Betsy) prevailed and she suggested we batten down camp and hit the road to look for breakfast. Good idea, Betsy!
Still raining, we headed up SR 94 around 7AM and ended up in Shingleton at the Woodlands Hideaway. There was a notice on the door about curtailed hours because of the economic turndown. But, thank god, they were open.
We got menus and hot coffee, lots of it! We were both kinda shocked at the prices. A standard egg, sausage, and home fries plate was 8 bucks! That is more than I will usually pay for dinner. But, everything is more expensive up here in Da Yooper, transportation costs, limited sales and no Big Box chain stores keep prices "high".
The restaurant had a little gift shop tucked away in one corner with a half empty postcard rack. I did find a couple worth sending back home including some featuring the Kirtland's Warbler.
We did a drive-through of Munising and found the High School and Public Library on the west side of town. We decided to stop at the Library so Betsy could check her email. The library did not open until 10am so we sat in the car and wrote postcards.
At 10 we entered the library and Betsy inquired about using one of the PC and was told she was more than welcome to do so. While we were there, another couple, obviously travellers asked and did the same.
We then drove over to the visitors center, used the bathrooms and picked up a few brochures and wondered what we should do next - given the weather. We decided, for the time being, to check out the downtown area and find the PO to drop our postcards which were stamped and ready to go.
We parked on Elm street between Munising and Superior Streets and in a light rain set out to find the PO. We pretty much went up and down every street downtown but could not find the PO. We finally settled on the mail box in front of City Hall.
By then it was not raining and looked like it might clear up. But we had seen this before and we did not get our hopes up. We wandered around town some more hoping to see some blue sky and then go for a hike.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
I spotted this place 325 E Superior St and could not resist a few photos.
We're fetchin up scrumptious Vittles from the early mornin' sunrise, and when the days half thru - till the sun goes down on the mountain - this here's the place for 'lishus "Country Fixins!"
Meet the Yokums! How they got up here from Kentucky I will never know.
Can you spell "Tourist Trap"?
We got back to the car on Elm Street (little did we know the PO was only a block away) and tried to decide where to hike. We had originally planned on about 5-7 miles along Lake Superior in the PRNL. Ha! Not gonna happen. In our haste to leave our soggy campsite we had left our rain gear behind. Brother... now what? We got our trusty copy of Eric Hansen's "Hiking Michigan's Upper Peninsula". Nothing short enough nearby to risk hiking without rain gear. We went though our other material and found the " Au Train Songbird Trail" which was around 2-3 miles
We made our way over to the access road off of SR 28. The entrance had some construction cones and there was obviously some major road grading going on. Eventually I started noticing paving equipment and large earth movers. As we approached the trailhead a fella next to a work truck flagged us down. He asked if we were camping and we said we there to hike. He then told us the who area was actually closed and paving would start soon. Once it did there would be no way to know when we could get back out. Crap. Another SNAFU! Probably just as well since we had both left our binoculars back at camp along with the rain gear and the bird book was still soggy and unusable. OK. Now what?
By now it was around 1PM. The weather did look promising. We decided "what the hell" and headed down to Bruno Run Trail to the south. Eric Hansen's write-up on the trail was eloquent and enticing and we figgered we could at least do part of the 8.5 mile loop.
So we headed south on various small paved and unpaved county and Forest Service roads and after a lot of frustrating navigational uncertainties we finally made our way there. At one point (god knows when) somewhere (god knows where) we saw an interesting stone tee-pee along the road and decided to have a look see.
In 2005 the monument was rehabbed by one of the children of the original CCC masons who built the monument.
Big news in Munising!
One of the many "green tunnels" we have driven through while up here in the UP.
We made our way to the Bruno Run trailhead and saw a lot of work trucks and activity. Shit. More construction. There was rip-rap, wheel barrows and gravel all over the place. Could our luck be that bad as to end up at another trail which was closed? Fortunately not. We approached a guy who looked like the trail boss and he said the trail was indeed open. He was there with a Scout troop who were doing trail work. He then told us a bit about the trail which mirrored Eric Hansen's report.
We looked at Eric Hansen's map again and decided to hike about 3 miles out and back. By now it was clearing nicely and was turning into a beautiful day. Finally! So, the limiting factor would not be our lack of rain gear but rather by how much foot pain I could endure.
We set about the task of getting ready. First lunch. Whoops - we had also left the PB& J and bread back at camp. By now we were feeling like real disorganized dumb shits. OK. Luckily we did have a stick of summer sausage, mustard and a whole wheat French bread loaf.Whoops again - left the mustard back at camp also. We ate what we had, packed more, loaded up and after what seemed like an eternity finally hit the trail at 2:00. A record late start time for us which would become our norm.
I coaxed smiles out of these youngins' as we headed down the trail.
When I saw this I was wishing I had one for back home.
Nothing like a motorized wheel barrow to speed things up a little. This kid was from the Keewenaw Peninsula and was glad to hear we would be heading up that way. At one point I found a key laying on the ground which turned out to be the ignition key for this wheel barrow. I gave it to the Super who was down the trail a bit.
One of numerous low spots marked out to get several layers of gravel fill.
Soon we were in a thick forest of young Beech trees. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing and the days fiascoes were now forgotten. This was a much needed tonic for both of us. Ahhh...
The ferns continue! Here we see Ground Cedar (Lycopodium tristachyum ). This is found back home in West Virginia but it is a bit scarce. Up here it seems to do well in the sandy dry soils.
A fuzzy look at the "candelabra" the spore bearing structures.
This is stiff club moss. Betsy would tell you it is named after me. I took this photo to show the trailing and surficial runner which is the growing end of the plant. Usually this underground stem is covered with forest duff and/or soil.
This walk was getting better and better.
Soon we left the beech and were among large White Pines and passed through a nice grove of Eastern Hemlock as well.
There were also many nice sized Paper Birch trees.
This bridge is over the Indian River.
Near the "Wide Waters" section of the River we saw this nice patch of Dwarf Cornel which is actually a tiny Dogwood.
We saw several fallen markers which had been temporarily placed by hikers. We did the same.
When we reached our turn around point - the crossing at County Route 13, my feet were still feeling OK so we decided to commit to hiking the loop rather than turning back. And, anyway, a hike this gorgeous was worth a bit of foot discomfort.
Having made this decision we deiced to break for lunch. We sat on the old concrete abutment of the Rt 13 bridge which crossed the scenic Indian River. As we sat there in the sun we watched the Dragonflies flit about as we enjoyed the cooling breeze. From our vantage point we could see across the river to the where the trail continued on. We had a leisurely lunch then scrambled up the bank to the roadway, crossed the bridge and on the other side found a set of steps going down to the trail.
This out of focus picture does not do justice to the delicate beauty of this stand of Twin Flower. The Latin binomial - Linnaea borealis speaks to it origins. Carl Linnaeus was a famous Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist. Borealis refers to the circumpolar boreal forest of the north.
Twin Flower is very rare back home so this was a real treat.
As seen here, the plant is quite tiny.
Muchus Twin Flower!
I simply cannot remember the name of this Orchid! Can anyone tell me?
Gotta love that Bracken Fern.
Aside from the overall beauty and solitude one enjoys, the Bruno Run Trail meanders through several forest types. Here we entered a nice grove of Paper Birch.
The "paper" from these lovely trees made many a birch bark canoe.
This bench at Dipper Lake provided a nice place for breather and a chance to take in the scenery.
Quiet, cool, calming. Can one ask for more?
The trail was well marked along the entire length and the only place where we got a little disoriented was the section through Pete's Campground.
We have seen many of these White Admiral butterflies up here on the UP.
Yet another cool Equisetum!
This is Equisetum fluviatile - the Water Horsetail. It likes its feet wet so you will always find it in water - sometimes lake, sometime streams and also wet road ditches.
I noticed this stand of
Cinnamon Ferns below the trail near Grassy Lake. Note the hummock the fern is growing on top of. This is built up old rhizomes from the fern itself. At one time these hummocks were harvested, ground and pressed into blocks and basket liners for use as a growing media for epiphytes such as orchids, bromeliads and some species of ferns such as Platycerium.
The product was sold as "Osmunda fiber" in reference the genus of this fern "Osmunda".
I spotted these leaves next to the clumps of Cinnamon Fern.
I am pretty sure this is Rhodora. Believe it or not it is a Rhododendron. Rhododendron canadense to be more specific. It grows in low wet areas and swamps up here in the Great North Woods. This was truly a serendipitous find for me.
Mass explosions of pink erupt in lowland wetlands and swamps beginning in mid- to late May. In these locales the species is more noted for the abundance of its bloom than the beauty of the individual flowers. The shear mass of color is a result of the flowers appearing prior to, or along with the emergence of the leaves. So unlike most other members of the heath family there are no leaves to interfere with our observation of the flowers.
At Pete's Lake we took another rest stop. Up until now we had heard no human sound since we started out now nearly 3 hours ago. But, here we heard and saw a motor boat and met our first folks on the trail - mom and dad and little Johnny out for a stroll.
When we got up to Pete's Campground proper we felt like we had been transported to the Big City and could not wait to get out of there.
This USFS campground is now managed by Recreation Resource Management.
RRM is in the business of providing quality recreation management services, with a focus on customer satisfaction and environmental stewardship. If you would like to lean more about how we help Federal, State, and Local governments continue to provide world-class recreation opportunities in an era of shrinking budgets, you can learn more about how we can provide recreation management services.
Some people have expressed concerns about private companies operating on public lands. Under our concession agreements, our government partners are able to provide better services for less money. In addition, the vast majority of the fees you pay stay right in the local park, either to support operations or to make capital improvements. For more information, check out our FAQ.
Last shot of the day. Hard to tell what it is but I thought these sprawling White Birch roots looked like the tentacles of an octopus.
Nearing the end of our hike I took this last shot of a tired but happy Betsy.
When we got back to the car we were amazed to find it was 7:30. WE had been out in the woods for five and half hours. Hard to believe. I have to say this was the best hike I have ever been on.
By the time we got back in the vicinity of our campsite it was around 8:30. Neither of us liked the idea of cooking dinner so we ended up in a local bar (imaging that!) for dinner.
I have to say the Boot Lake Bar and Grill served up the greasiest, sloppiest mess disguised as hamburger I had ever seen.
Betsy was smart. She got the grilled chicken sandwich.
We chatted with the bar maid who told us about her trip to Huntington WV with her truck driving ex boyfriend. This was significant to her because she had seen the movie "We are Marshall".
We also watched a bit of "In Cold Blood" on the big screen. It was in beautiful black-and-white and quite compelling.
Then back to our nearly dried out campsite and into our sleeping bags. As we lay there the Whip-poor-will started what was to be an all night serenade. This and the occasional call of the Loon lulled us off to a good night's sleep.
What a day.