June 12, 2009

Porcupine Mountains State Park

From the tip of the Keeweenaw Peninsula we head southwest to one of Michigan's crown jewels..."Porky" State Park (as the locals say). If you're ever in this part of the UP, this somewhat out of the way stop is a must. And, THE place to camp here is back in the far reaches of the Park, which is a 25 mile drive past the Visitor Center, but well worth it.
We arrive before the weekend to grab one of the best spots in the campground, with a clear view of Lake Superior, where we set up our chairs and small "wine and cheese" table, for a delightful view of a stormy sunset!

Early next morning, it's down the nice staircase to the beach, and hike along the Lake's shoreline to the lower part of the Carp River, where we find a large "pool" inhabited by a mother Merganser, and her newborn chicks.

Later that morning, it's off to the Summit Point Trail for a 4 mile loop up to Mirror Lake to experience the interior of this beautiful woodlands. First stop, the observation tower, at the peak for a nice overview of the entire park. We're greeted with a splendid cool clear day! This shot is looking out across the park to Lake Superior, visible out there just beyound the hills in the distance.
We continue the hike and come across many of nature's displays as we wlk along.

A surprise waits us down a long hill - the lower reaches of this area become a large swampy bog, that reminds us somewhat of our home state of Louisiana. The park has done a great job of building many elevated boardwalks through the marshy bottom.
As we emerge from the low areas, we're surprised to find a small stand of old growth white pines. Pretty amazing the size they reach when you consider the growing season is only a few months each year.
Next day it's back to the river, where we sample the hiking along the area above the pool (pix above). The numerous waterfalls are easy to get to again thanks to the nicely built trails, stairs and boardwalks along the river.
No trip to the park would be complete without a drive to the highest part, to view the most photographed spot in Porky, Lake of the Clouds. What a magnificant site!
Our final evening at the park is spent along the shores of Superior, where we witness a series of intense thunderstorms over the lake.

As the sun finally leaves us behind, I sit in wonder thankful that Kim and I made the decision to embark on this journey of North America almost exactly two years ago!