Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in Michigan - Tamara's Journeys

Sunday in Michigan

August 30th, 2015

The Porcupine Mountains are crawling with porcupines. Not exactly. There are some porcupines, however the area I explored this weekend takes its name from the fact that the tree covered mountaintops have a silhouette similar to that of a quill covered porcupine.  The crown jewel of the Michigan State Parks, and the largest at 60,000 acres, the park offers so much scenic variety and so many recreational options that I could spend at least four days to get a real taste of what the Porcupine Mountains are all about and really appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of the Porcupine Mountains. I want to go back once fall leaves pop. http://porcupinemountains.com

Before heading to the Porkies I was warned that the 11th Annual Music Festival was taking place. I was concerned about the crowds, however when there’s 60,000 acres to disperse the crowds it’s not a problem. Performers are booked from all over the world and have played for packed audiences of thousands over the years. I’m sure it’s a musical experience unlike any other, but it wasn’t for me. I was visiting for the waterbagging.

Hundreds of waterfalls grace the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and surrounding area. Waterbagging is to visit as many waterfalls as you can in a single visit and I barely touched the surface by seeing the Presque Isle falls: Nawadaha, Manido and Manabezho Falls to where they empty into Lake Superior.

A unique rock formation at Presque Isle

A unique rock formation at Presque Isle

Presque Isle River emptying into Lake Superior

Presque Isle River emptying into Lake Superior

Painter in residence painting the falls and river

Painter in residence painting the falls and river

The name Manabezho refers to an Ojibwe spirit God and it is easily accessible by the trail.

The name Manabezho refers to an Ojibwe spirit God and it is easily accessible by the trail.

Manabezho Falls has a drop of 25 feet and is the largest and most dramatic of the three waterfalls.

Manabezho Falls has a drop of 25 feet and is the largest and most dramatic of the three waterfalls.

Manido Falls area

Manido Falls area

Manido Falls is the smallest of the waterfalls on the river.

Manido Falls is the smallest of the waterfalls on the river.

The name Manido comes from the Ojibwe word meaning “ghost” and it is easily accessible by rugged trails.

The name Manido comes from the Ojibwe word meaning “ghost” and it is easily accessible by rugged trails.

Presque Isle River before flowing over Nawadaha Falls

Presque Isle River before flowing over Nawadaha Falls

Nawadaha Falls has a drop of 15 feet and is above both Manido Falls and Manabezho Falls. Access to this waterfall requires climbing some rugged trails.

Nawadaha Falls has a drop of 15 feet and is above both Manido Falls and Manabezho Falls. Access to this waterfall requires climbing some rugged trails.

Wild and scenic, the Presque Isle River tumbles over these and several smaller waterfalls and rapids as it races to meet Lake Superior.  This trail parallels the river and provides breathtaking views as you wind through the forest, walk along the boardwalks and the observation decks. Hikers are permitted to climb on the rocks, but there is no swimming permitted due to obvious safety concerns.

Surrounded by the silhouettes of the ancient Porcupine Mountains, the Lake of the Clouds is a gem amid the thick forest. The Lake of the Clouds is probably the most photographed feature in the Porcupine Mountains region. It’s a truly breathtaking sight to behold. The best view of the lake and the surrounding hills was from an easily accessible boardwalk. The hallmark view was atop a 300 foot precipice that overlooks the lake.

Lake of the Clouds 1 Lake of the Clouds 2 Lake of the Clouds 5 Lake of the Clouds 6

Many of the communities in the Porcupine Mountains area started as mining towns. Copper, silver and iron are all found in the area. I haven’t visited a mine yet, however I visited the Ontonagon Lighthouse used to guide ships to the busiest cooper district port on Lake Superior.

The lighthouse was built in 1852, however the wooden structure had a problem with flooding. In 1866, the original structure was replaced with the existing schoolhouse style building, a simple 1-1/2-story rectangular cream brick building with a square light tower at the west end. The extremely high basement was built far above the ground to protect the living areas from flooding.

Originally built on the Lake Superior shoreline with a high basement to protect it from the high waves and flooding, the lighthouse has since “moved” ~ 200 yards back from the shore as the land has filled in with deposits of sediment dropped by waves coming off the lake after the town built jetties. It’s been great in lowering the threat of flooding, however the town has had to continue putting the East Light out further and further.

In April 1963, use of the lighthouse was discontinued after an automatic foghorn and battery-powered light were installed at the end of the eastern pier. The lighthouse was officially closed in January 1964, after which it was leased to the last keeper. The light was removed from the structure and is now housed at the Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum. There’s more interesting history about the keepers and lighthouse at: http://www.ontonagonmuseum.org/lighthouse1.htm

Fancy two-seater brick outhouse

Fancy two-seater brick outhouse

Original to the lighthouse, this stove is still used to cook Thanksgiving meals

Original to the lighthouse, this stove is still used to cook Thanksgiving meals

Ontonagon Lighthouse 3 Ontonagon Lighthouse 4 Ontonagon Lighthouse 5 Ontonagon Lighthouse 6

Lamp without the Fresnal lens with Lake Superior in the background

Lamp without the Fresnal lens with Lake Superior in the background

Ontonagon Lighthouse. Two tones of brick are original because masons ran out of brick and had to substitute the lighter brick to finish the project.

Ontonagon Lighthouse. Two tones of brick are original because masons ran out of brick and had to substitute the lighter brick to finish the project.

May your head be in the clouds, high above the madness of the world as you let your light shine, unconsciously encouraging other people to do the same.

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  • Dad says on: August 31, 2015 at 8:54 am

     

    Thanks for the tour

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.