We wanted to go on one last hike in 2016, before the snow hit, but we didn’t want to go far from home. So we drove 5 hours up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to check out the Porcupine Mountains. Only one of us had been hiking in this region before, and it had been 10 years ago, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. It was myself, Chris from EE’s research and development, and Chris’s brother in law. It was an easy, albeit, boring drive and we were eager to hit the trail.
We started in the morning, the air was crisp and cool, the sun was shining, and not a cloud in the sky. We started walking along the trail and quickly came right to the edge of lake superior. It was a great start. Looking out over the water and hiking, it was exactly what we were hoping for, but it didn’t last long.
Eventually we cut into the woods and that’s when the issues came. Apparently, being so close to the water makes for some muddy trails. We also didn’t know that a bad storm had ravaged a good portion of the trail. We found ourselves have to parkour are way along the trail, jumping from stump to dry earth, zigzagging along the trail. It was a flat and easy trail, and it was pretty, but it was hard to concentrate on anything but our feet as we walked. Occasionally we misstepped and sunk about ankle deep into the mud.
But overall our first day was easy and fun. We were able to see some deer in the woods and eat lunch overlooking Lone Rock out on lake superior. I was worried about wearing too little or too many layers, but a long sleeve shirt under my t-shirt seemed to do the trick and I started with a beanie on my head, which quickly came off after about 5 minutes of hiking.
The first night we camped along Lake Superior and we had an amazing campsite. Someone came in before us and built rock seats and tables around the campfire to sit at. That coupled with the wind barrier made for an amazing place to hang our hammocks for the evening.
The next morning we woke up and hit the trail refreshed from a great night's sleep. We had a decent good day and are morale was up. Little did we know that day 2 was going to be a rough one. We started off easy enough. Walking along the Big Carp river, it seemed to be going well. We even came across Shining Clouds Falls, which made for an enjoyable first couple of miles, though it was mostly uphill.
Then the hike changed. We started noticing we were going up, gradually, but consistently. The hills would plateau, we would go down a little, then continue up. When hills did level off they became muddy and the trail markers we sometimes hard to spot. There were several sections along the trail that was a mile or so of planks we had to walk across, which was kind of fun.
We came across several creeks and rivers the second day. Most of which were easy to handle, however, there was one that was to big to cross without getting drenched and no bridge. Luckily, not far down from where the trail crossed, there was a downed tree that we were able to cross.
It was a grueling day, and towards the end we were exhausted. Gradual inclines are deceiving and steep inclines were intermittently thrown in as well. When those came up it really showed us how tired we really were. But we finally made it to Mirror lake about 2 or 3 o’clock. We talked about pushing ahead, but we were tired and there was no reason to rush to the finish line. We setup camp, relaxed, and enjoyed the view. We went to bed around 8 PM that night, I was asleep by 8:01.
We woke around 6 or 7 the next morning. We were a little sore, but for the most part we felt good. We knew we only had 4 miles or so till we were back at the car and we were excited to see Lake of the Clouds. Day 3 was probably the easiest of all the days, all...down...hill. It was a awesome. It was a rocky trail, so we had to worry about ankle rolling a little as we walked down, but for the most part it was easy going. For most of the way we walked along big ravines with some water running through them.
Eventually the ground flattened out, right at the end for the last mile or so. We needed to cross the big carp river trail, and it was a marshland, so we were back to our two plank trail.
We got to Lake of the clouds fairly quickly, but right at the end there were switchbacks to get back up to the overlook, where we parked our cars. This was the real goal, to see lake of the clouds. We made the climb, and when we finally made it to the top, it made the entire trip worth it for just this one breathtaking view.
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