Wednesday July 12th: Arrival - Les Cheneaux Islands and the Eastern Yooper
Our last morning on Beaver Island was breezy, overcast and in the high 60s. I finished up my web work while Betsy did some sorting and packing up. At about 8:30 we biked down to Dalwhinnie Bakery and Deli and split a Lake Salmon omelet, biked back and finished up the packing.
At about 10:45 we loaded up our luggage in Sue's car and then biked down to the ferry terminal to meet her and unload our luggage. When this was done we were told by the luggage attendant we would have to pay a freight charge on our cooler. We told her there had been no charge to bring it over. She was not swayed and said "They must have missed it".
We went in with Sue to the ferry terminal office to get things straightened out and ended up paying a 3.50 freight charge for the cooler. We were told "luggage is luggage and "freight is freight". And that was the end up it.
Although we enjoyed Beaver Island it was a bit on the expensive side. The round trip cost for Betsy and me and the bikes was $193.00. Add lodging cost too and it starts to get on the pricey side to visit Beaver Island. If we had taken a vehicle it would have been an additional $210.00 added on. OUCH!
The ferry ride back to Charlevoix was a bit different than the ride over a few days ago. There was heavy cloud cover and the lake was more active which caused the boat to roll from side to side a bit.
We sat in the front row on the upper deck a few seats from an "old" couple from Saginaw. We knew as soon as we sat down he wanted to chat with us. So we obliged him for a bit.
Once the boat got underway Betsy's Dramamine kicked in and I nodded off for a bit as well.
As we were gliding through the channel to the ferry port, almost everyone on the deck of a local restaurant stood up and starting waving to us. Why I do not know.
Once disembarked I took my bike and pedaled down to the van. Betsy stayed at the port to keep an eye on our luggage and "freight". When I hit the road I saw slow moving traffic backed up in both directions. Quite a difference from the totally empty streets and sidewalks a few days before. Of course that was on a Sunday morning at 8:00.
I got to the car in about 10 minutes, loaded the bike and headed back to the ferry dock. I took a side street for most of the way and I was able to avoid most of the traffic.
We got our stuff loaded without incident although I had a close call when an "old" lady started to back out of her parking spot without checking her mirrors. I laid on the horn and she stopped just inches from the passenger side sliding door. That would have been a mess and a big delay.
Once loaded we were out of town pretty quick. We were on US 31 north which follows the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay until you get just north of Petosky then it turns inland.
We turned off onto SR 119 just north of Bayview and then onto C-81. The idea was to miss a closure on US 31 by taking this back way.
It would have worked great if I had not missed a turn and ended up just a few miles south of the US 31 closure in the town of Pellston. Betsy took the map and went in a local shop where we got directions for a detour around the closure. This took us on a roller coaster dirt road (Redd Rd.) until we got to E. Levering Rd. Here we turned west and were back on US 31 north.
In short order we were then on I-75 and crossing the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula. YIPPEE!!
We stayed on I-75 and exited on SR 134 east and 41 miles later were in the small town of Cedarville.
We made a quick grocery stop at Cedarville Foods and a few minutes later were checking into the Les Cheneaux Motel where we would be staying the next three nights.
We unloaded a few things and then headed down the road to our local Happy Hour spot on the north shore of Lake Huron - Detour Roadside Park.
This would be our third Happy Hour at this lovely spot although the previous two times the weather was a bit more inviting.
Wednesday July 12th: Arrival - Les Cheneaux Islands and the Eastern Yooper
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
Here is our Happy Hour spot. We were shocked to see how high the lake level was. The trail from the parking area pretty much went right into the water with only a few feet to spare.
This is the same spot in 2013. Today that spit of rocks to the left was completely submerged.
Our cramped little spot was right up against a White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) tree which had a Redstart nest in it. The bird was calling and at one point I got a good look at it perched on a branch with a caterpillar in its mouth.
Above is a video of the wave action. It also shows why we made a quick stop at Cedarville Foods first.
Our Happy Hour was abbreviated by the weather and we headed back to the Hotel. We continued unpacking and then Betsy fixed us a garden salad topped with smoked salmon supper. We spent part of the evening doing something we rarely do anymore (no - not that!)- watching TV. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was on so we watched until 9:00 and then hit the hay.
I had hoped that was the end of my day, but it was not to be. I was awakened out of a sound sleep at shortly after 11:00 to the sound of slamming car doors and hotel doors and then wailing and screaming of a small child in the room next to us. This went on for what seemed like an eternity but was probably more like an hour.
In spite of my laying there fuming I was able to get back to sleep and slept well for most of the rest of the night.
Thursday July 13th: A Soggy start to our stay in Les Cheneaux Islands and the Eastern Yooper
Our first morning here was cloudy/misty/drizzly and cool. Not what we had hoped for. I had to keep reminding myself it was going to be near 90 and muggy back in Wheeling. Thinking about this helped me change my attitude. While I worked on the Trog, Betsy did a bit of reading, caught up on emails and then fixed us a nice omelet.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
My trogging station. Later I set up on the kitchen table. You don't often see the old knotty pine panelling anymore. The units here have a bedroom/sitting room, and another bedroom with attached bath. There is also a kitchen area with table, gas stove top, small fridge and cabinets with utensils, plates, cookware, etc.
After breakfast Betsy drove to Hessel which is about 6 miles west of the hotel. There she talked to the folks at Woods & Water Ecotours about a kayak tour on the following day (Friday). After finding out there would be no one else on the tour ( I was not going to go) and considering the wet forecast she decided to forego the opportunity for another time.
While Betsy was gone I managed to pry myself away from the keyboard and take a short walk down the road.
The site of my nature walk.
A common sight up here in the Great Lakes.
You never know what you might find in a road ditch up here. There is always something interesting to see. Today I saw these Little Green Orchids. That name is the best I can do for an ID. I also saw some Smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum) in the same ditch.
I took a peek into the adjacent woods and found it carpeted with Northern Oak ferns(Gymnocarpium dryopteris) and Dwarf scouring rush (Equisetum scirpoides)
There were lots of Philadelphia lilies(Lilium philadelphicum) in bloom along the road banks.
When Betsy got back we talked about our plans for the rest of the day. The weather was still wet and cool and we saw no sign it was going to change anytime soon.
Betsy wanted to head back down to Hessel for a look around, so we did.
Here is something you rarely see anymore. Of course it was not operational but a local guy said every once in a while Clark Kent would show up to make a call.
After walking around the marina area we checked out a local gift shop and then headed back to the hotel.
Neither of us could get too worked up about a hike but we finally suited up and got out the door around 12:30.
We drove about 7 miles east to Port Dolomite and the site of a trail we hiked in 2015. This trail is surely like no other place in the world. I have never taken the photos to do it justice. Someday...
On this hike I only took a few snaps.
This mostly shoreline trail goes by an old cabin site. As you can see Nature is slowly absorbing the remaining vestiges of human occupation.
We saw more Philadelphia Lilly and of course the ubiquitous Bracken Fern.
The shaggy peeling bark is the reason for this tree's common name - Paper birch (Betula papyrifera).
As mentioned before, the waters of Lake Huron are up and part of the trail was under water.
That is the last of the photos I took for this hike. I simply could not get inspired to take more.
So, if you wish to see more you can check out the photos from our 2015 hike on this trail.
They are here. There is also more info about the Les Cheneaux Islands area.
The forecast for Friday looks the same - cool and rainy.
Where shall we go and what shall we do?
Thursday July 14th:
Another cool and Soggy and soggy day in the Eastern Yooper
Fort Drummond, also known as Fort Colyer or Fort Collier, is a military fort located on the west end of Drummond Island on Whitney Bay, in the vicinity of De Tour Village, Michigan. It is the only known military and civilian site established by British forces on American soil following the War of 1812. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1956.
The history of Drummond Island dates back centuries, but more recent history of the past 200 years relates to the British occupation of the island during and after the War of 1812. The island was the last British outpost on American soil following the Treaty of Ghent (1814). It was finally returned to American hands in 1828. Drummond Island is the only island in the Manitoulin island chain which is part of the United States.
For several years we have been thinking about going over to Drummond Island (DI) to see what there is to see. We had been to the tourism site for DI and seen all the trails listed and it looked like we could get a good hike or bike in. So even though biking was out for DI this year we decided to go on over and try to find a good hike.
The ferry to DI is about a 45 minute drive east of Cedarville on SR 134. We arrived about 20 minutes before the ferry departed and by the time the ferry arrived there was a boat full of cars and trucks waiting.
We were instructed on where to park on the boat and then once the ferry got underway a crewman came around and collected the fees. Ours was $8.00 round trip for two seniors and a vehicle.
After a 10 minute trip across the passage we were back on SR 134 and headed to the tourism office for info on hiking trails.
Like the word "camping" the word "trails" can mean many things to many people. And so it is up in this neck of the woods "trails" are for ORVs (Off-road vehicles). That can mean lots of different types of vehicles. On DI it means 4-wheelers, 4x4s and jeeps in the summer and snow mobiles in the fall.
After talking to the women at the tourism office we soon realized our hoped for hiking trails were ORV trails. And the access to many of the beach areas were via these "trails".
She suggested if we wanted to go for a beach walk we try the road out to Glen Cove.
So, armed with a local map we set our for an afternoon of beach walking and exploring.
After about 45 minutes of rather tedious driving on an often rough and muddy road we arrived at Glen Cove.
Here we are at Glen Cove. By the time we got here there was continuous drizzle and very low clouds.
Here is why we could not take a beach walk. The high water was up to the tree/brush line making it impassible. Oh well...
Needless to say we did not stay long and soon we were driving back to civilization. As we drove out we passed countless muddy ORV trails disappearing into the woods. During dry, sunny weather these might be nice hiking. But not today.
After looking over the map Betsy found another area for us to check out. We drove back to the tourism office and then headed north to Maxton road where we found the trailhead.
There seem to be many of these small preserves up this way. Most seem to be small tracts which I am sure were donated by the previous, conservation minded landowners.
This shot was taken near the parking area - the only one for the hike. It shows clearly how Bracken fern can dominate open areas, especially those with sandy soils.
The trail, all two miles of it, went through what looked like an old farm area. The forest was mostly beech and maple of less than 6" in diameter. But the woods was beautiful in all its rain soaked glory and we were serenaded by a hermit thrush as we walked. It looked dark and deep today and very inviting.
And that concludes our tour of Drummond Island. Impressive, no?
We then drove back to the ferry terminal and headed back to Cedarville. After a quick stop for groceries, and a short nap we headed back out to our Happy Hour Station and low and behold - sunshine!!! For about 10 minutes. But, it was warming up and it was starting look like we were going to turn the corner on the wet weather.
We shall see.
Our next stop will be well to the west and north of us and we will be trading Lake Huron for Superior.
See you then,
Mike and Betsy.