Day 7: Thursday, June 17th

After a "quiet" all night serenade from the Whip-poor-wills, the day broke clear and cool. I awoke at 5:30 and arose at 5:45 to find a heavy fog on East Lake and a Loon calling in the shrouded distance.

I set about making my coffee. We had moved the stove into the front vestibule of the tent so as to not have to battle the mosquitos first thing in the morning.
The night before I had boiled water and then decanted it into an old stainless thermos I had purchased at a yard sale over 20 years ago. This thermos is the official camp coffee pot.

The point of boiling the coffee water the night before was to try to save a little time in the morning by using pre-heated water for the coffee making. It worked. I found the water still piping hot from the night before and the water was boiling in no time. I made a thermos full and then took my chair out to the lake shore to enjoy it. I sat for a spell and then walked up the road and then down to the lakeshore and up to site #2 and then back to our camp. When I got back I heard Sand Hill Cranes calling somewhere in the distance. It was a total surprise to hear these magnificent birds!

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This is after the fog had cleared a bit. Earlier I could not see across the small lake.

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Betsy arose at 7:00, relaxed with some coffee and then started in on the daily ritual of writing her journal. The special spiral bound journal she had brought for this trip was still soaked and unusable from the previous nite's rains and would stay that way for quite awhile. Fortunately I had brought a small binder with 3 hole note paper in it and she is now using that. It remains to be seen if there is enough paper in it to journal for the entire trip.

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Here Betsy attends to her morning toilette in our bathroom without walls.

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About 9:00, after some relaxing at the campsite, Betsy set out for a paddle on the lake.

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Clear, sunny and cool and we had the entire lake to ourselves.

While Betsy paddled I dozed on and off in the sun warmed tent. When Betsy returned I went down to the beach and joined her in a refreshing skinny-dip. The we lounged around in the sun on our "beach blanket" - an old bed spread I had found amongst my dad's things.
At one point we looked skyward and realized the birds which were circling the lake were bald eagles! The bright clear sunshine set of the white head and tail in razor sharp relief. No binoculars needed this time.

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At about 1:00 we got on the road and headed north to Pictured Rocks for another hike.

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We had chosen Miners Castle as our starting point and the plan was to hike down to Miners Beach and along the shoreline and cliffs of Lake Superior.
Above and below are a few shots of the "Castle".

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This is looking out at Grand Island from the Miner's Castle overlook.

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The boat in the back was one of the shoreline cruise boats. We though about taking one of these cruises to get a different perspective on the lake shore, but we never quite got to it.

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This photo, and the one below, were taken by two retired Brits we met at the overlook. They had sold their home in Britain, bought a motor home and were spending their time travelling all over the U.S.

The move was a permanent one for them and the motor home was now their permanent residence.

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We started our hike and headed east along the shore line. Only minutes into our hike we heard an incredible racket in the woods which we soon realized was a group of ravens. The closer we got the more raucous it got and when we reached the large Red Oak tree they were in, we counted 5 ravens. They called and squawked and clacked at each other and from time to time would play musical branches and then start all over. It was wild! All this ruckus seemed to be focused on one bird, but we could not be sure.
After about ten minutes of close observation we got back on the trail and headed down into the Miner's River area.

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On the way down to the river we spotted several plants of the Northern Holly Fern (Polystichum lonchites). This is another cool fern of the North and I had not seen one for many years.

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When we got down to the river bank I spotted this rather oddly shaped Red Spruce. I could not help but wonder if the full "skirt" of branches was there because they were protected and inaccessible from the deer in the Winter.

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It was nice to see a stream which was naturally this color.
The color is from the tannin in the conifer needles, not acid mine drainage.

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We had seen sea lamprey traps at Tequaminon Falls State Park on one of our previous trips to the UP. Apparently they are still a problem here.

The Great Lakes are constantly under assault from non-native species which are introduced into the eco system via bilge water, etc when these crafts lock through from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

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Lake Superior's Riviera.

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Betsy had fun picking out some nice pocket stones. Some were polished like glass.

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What a great spot. Pretty quiet right now. But, judging from the size of the parking lot it must get very busy in the main season - July and August. Glad we are missing that!

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Oh joy. Jet skis, the dirt bikes of the water.

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While we took a rest break at the beach entrance stairway, a group of about 20 Scouts and moms and dads paraded though and disappeared down the trail.

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A not very clear shot of the sandstone bluffs. I used a telephoto to try to show the water falls/slide which is visible just left of center. Some of the bluffs emerge 200 feet out of the water.

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We continued our hike east. We eventually made our way back down to the beach and this little waterfall/slide. The high for the day was 80 degrees and it felt like it while hiking in the full sun. But the breeze kept us comfortable.

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This was the source of the water above. The shape of the channel and the very even, consistent flow made me wonder if the source was not a spring. We did not investigate, but I wish we had.

We continued on the trail which then took us up to the enormous beach parking area. Here Betsy slipped into long pants to help fend of the pesky deer flies on the hike back.

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My snapshot cannot do justice to this gorgeous place.

On the way back we came across two folks standing in the middle of the trail, binocs pointed up. There were trying to get a look at a bird Betsy and I had been trying to identify by song. They ( Larry and Lucy Smith from St Louis) did finally get their glasses on the bird which we later identified as a Blackburnian Warbler.

It turned out Larry and Lucy were relatively new to birding and we had fun sharing some our experiences and knowledge with them and visa versa. L&L are mainly sight birders and Betsy and I bird mainly by ear now. They were curious about how to bird by ear and all we could tell them was the way we learned - many bird walks with others, occasionally listening to recordings and of course the ultimate way - seeing and hearing the bird sing.

The four of us walked back together stopping occasionally to listen to or try to see a particular bird. At one point Betsy heard a Swainson's Thrush and pointed out the song to L&L. We soon realized it was very close and L&L were on the hunt. Both scanned the trees until they finally spotted it and got locked on with their binocs. With birding, persistence, tenacity and patience are a must. Now that L&L had locked the Swainson's down, Betsy and I both got a good look at it.

It was fun to meet them and we hoped our paths cross with them again at some point.

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One last snap for the day - a Pink Lady Slipper (Cyprepedium acuale).

We got back to the campsite at about 7:00 and had a humble but satisfying supper of salad and canned stew.

During dinner we heard a sound on the lake we had not heard before - a outboard motor. It had not even occurred to me such a small lake was not motor free. Oh well... the end of having the lake all to ourselves. We found out later the guy in the boat had taken up occupancy at site #1 on the far end of the lake.

When we turned in at 9:00 it was still broad daylight but that did not stop us from drifting off to never-never land.

At some point during the night I awoke for no apparent reason. The reason soon became apparent. I heard distant thunder and lighting and there was a slight breeze kicking up. Having learned my lesson, I got up and out of the tent to check on things. I looked skyward and immediately saw two shooting stars. It was crystal clear, and the thunder and lighting, which lit of the sky looked quite distant.

I crawled back into my sleeping bag and drifted off with out waking again.

 

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