On day 5 I left Escanaba, MI and made my way towards Iron River, MI to spend the night. On the way I visited this rural little lake on some national forest land.
I fished in the lake for about an hour, but didn't even get a single stinking bite. I originally planned to cook and eat whatever I caught over a campfire, but with an empty fish bucket I reverted to my back up plan ...roasting some wieners over an open fire. Yummy!
After that excursion I tried to enter a state park only to find out that they ALSO MAKE YOU PAY TO GET IN!!! WTF? Why do all these Michiganders think they can force people to pay just to go hiking? F!@# THAT!!! The girl at the pay station recommenced to me some local falls that only the locals know about. So I unenthusiasticly decided to try them out.
Well the directions she gave me ended up being pretty bad and I had to ask 3 different locals where they were at. This must be a pretty secret place if a navigation expert such as myself can't even find them. Maybe they don't want us out-of-towners to know.
Anyways I finally found the right road and I drove just about as far as my big bulky van would go. From where I parked it was pretty much just an ATV trail from there. And so I walked for about a mile and then I started to hear the sound of crashing rapids. Then I saw them.
They weren't that tall, but the amount of water pouring over them was amazing. I even saw trout trying to jump up them to spawn. I took a video of it and I'll download it whenever I can find a better WIFI connection.
After that I drove onto Iron River and spent the night, once again in a hotel parking lot.
Yesterday had to be the best, yet most exhausting day of my trip so far.
When I woke up I started making my way to the whole reason I wanted to drive through Michigan in the first place....The Porcupine Mountains. On the way there I saw a turtle, of all thing crossing the road. Being the free spirit that I have now become I decided to stop, and save it (What the hell is happening to me?). It was very red and colorful and I took a video of it but once again the connection here is too shitty so I'll upload it later.
It wasn't too long before I could see the mountains and even glimpses of Lake Superior as I glided over the hilly roads. And then finally, I had made it!
The park is right on the lake so I had a great view when I made my way to the entrance.
As you can see the beaches were sandy and it was near 80 degrees so it would have felt like a tropical paradise if it weren't for the all the pine trees instead of palms.
After a quick visit to the visitor center (and unfortunately have to to pay 8 bucks to get in) my first destination was the overlook to lake of the clouds. This spot was balanced on the top of a steep ridge with Lake Superior on one side and Lake of the Clouds on the other. The view was breathtaking.
Now I've seen a lot of nice views in my visits to all 50 states, but this one was so unique and beautiful I'll just go ahead and say that it's the best view east of the Mississippi. I never would have thought that it'd be in Michigan.
After staring at one of natures best creations for 15 minutes or so I decided to hike down to the lake.....OFF TRAIL!
I like doing these kind of things in unconventional ways. The trails are just too easy. You just follow hundreds of other peoples footsteps who took the exact same route before you. Sure it might be easier and more efficient to take the established trails, but where's the adventure in that?
So I found a nice area where the cliffs weren't too steep and made my descent. I really was only climbing the cliffs for maybe 100 feet or so and they weren't that steep so it wasn't that dangerous, but still exciting.
After I got to the bottom of the sheer cliffs I was in the rock debris that had fallen off the cliffs, this lasted for maybe 300 feet down the slope and then it was pure untouched woodlands all the way down to the lake.
After I admired the lake up close it was time to head back. Which means going UP! Hiking downhill is pretty easy. You just stick out your foot out and let gravity pull it down underneath you. Going uphill however is another story. You have to lift your foot up every step almost to your waist and are fighting AGAINST gravity every second. It's much more exhausting so I decided to take the trail on my route back up the mountain. Eventually after maybe an hour of climbing stairs (not as much fun as cliffs) I finally made it to the top. It was still early in the day, however, and after a quick nap I decided to do another hike down the opposite side of the mountain all the way to the Superior coast.
This could had ended badly, however, as I was not as energetic as when I started my first hike. This was also a much longer route and there was no trail on this side (At least not anywhere close). Even hiking downhill on this side was exhausting because there were so many exposed sharp edged rocks scattered throughout the woods and the woods were very bushy and unkempt due to the strong winds from the lake.
And to make it even worse as I got down to the lake I started to hear thunder in the distance.
So I quickly snapped a few pics took a short rest and then started climbing back up through the persistent annoying terrain.
This took a lot longer than I thought it would because I was so exhausted during the many short breaks I took I could hear and feel my heart pounding in my chest. It reminded me of track practice when the coach would make us keep running until we almost passed out. Another annoyance were the persistent flies and mosquitoes that would swarm me whenever I sat down to rest. They were, however a great motivator to keep me going. Close to the top where I had parked i found little old deer antler, which slightly eased my pain and helped brighten my spirits.
Luckily the storms held off for quite awhile and I made it back to my van long before they started. I then drove to the small town nearby looking for some food to replenish my energy.
There was only one restaurant that sold food in town, because of how small it was. I wouldn't even really call it a town. Maybe a small collection of buildings. This restaurant was also the towns only motel, bar, and general store, which was pretty cool. After stealing some WiFi and downing a giant burger and some sweet potato fries I went to spend m first night away from civilization.
It was just a little parking spot of the side of a dirt road in the middle of a state forest. The whole time I was there I only heard one other car pass me by. It was kind of creepy really. The silence was haunting. Being stuck in my van with absolutely no lights and no sounds (not even from bugs) made my mind go a little nuts. I kept thinking I would hear a car go by but then there was nothing since I couldn't see any headlights. I started talking to myself just to stimulate my ears and the volume of my voice sounded incredibly loud. My ears had been tuned too such silence for so long that their sensitivity had increased just from the lack of stimulation. It kind of freaked me out a little. So I decided to read a book out loud and that comforted me until I was able to fall asleep.
Today, I decided was going to be an easy day to catch up on some rest. After a short drive out of the wilderness I ended up in Ashland, WI. First I went to the local Walmart and stocked up on a few supplies and ate a big fat sub from subway. After that I went to the local city park to read a book on a picnic table in the shade of a big cedar tree.
Really nothing exciting happened today. It's about 7 PM CST now (that's right I'm in central timezone now) and I'm just at Micky D's updating my blog. I'll probably walk around town for an hour or two and then find a hotel to park at and go to bed. Like I said, today is catch up day from all the energy I spent yesterday.
Then tomorrow I'll be in Duluth and in a few days I'm visiting DBE in Minneapolis. Hope you're ready for me buddy. :)