The drive to the Upper Peninsula from Sandusky, OH is always a long one. For whatever reason, M-DOT can't seem to keep construction zones free of traffic jams. We hit two major jams, turning an 8 hour drive into an 11 hour slog. In addition to this, there is nothing rewarding about the drive through lower Michigan..nothing. However, this all changes once you hit the Mackinac Bridge... the scenery becomes totally different with commanding views of Lake Michigan along M-2. Driving through Michigan's U.P. is always a great experience. Along our route, we saw eagles, coyote, beaver, and many a swimmer taking a dip in Lake Michigan. We also finally tried a "pastie". Where I come from, a pastie is something one attaches to a woman's chest...great to look at, but not edible...apparently in the U.P. this item is a pastry stuffed with meat and potatoes...not great to look at, but wonderful to eat..
We got to Munising around 7PM, and checked into the Holiday Inn which offers INCREDIBLE views of Lake Superior. If you plan on overnighting in Munising, I highly suggest staying here.
Leg 1- Miner's to Mosquito
If you haven't made it to Pictured Rocks, get off your rear end. I knew this was going to be a special place, but I was totally blown away. The hiking is exceptional & the paddling is uniquely sublime.
We had planned on launching from Munising Falls, but the weather was not being cooperative. The lake forecast was calling for 5-9 foot waves, and we weren't about to play around with that. Lake Superior is VERY cold this early in June, and I had no desire to take an unexpected swim in rough waters.
We ended up launching from Miner's Beach and paddling east along the cliff line to Mosquito Beach, our first night's stop. This was a much shorter paddle then we had planned, but it gave us an opportunity to do a bit of hiking. After setting up camp, we followed the trail up to Mosquito Falls, around to Chapel, and back to Mosquito campground. After a nice 5 mile hike, we spent the evening watching the waves pound the shoreline.
Leg 2- Mosquito to the Coves
After a relaxing night, we woke to find Lake Superior just a bit calmer. The forecast was calling for 3-5's, so we decided to head out before it got choppy.
No sooner had we passed Petit Portal, a thunderstorm blew in. We headed for a large rock shelter/sea cave to get out of the rain. In this cave, I got my first introduction to one of Michigan's less desirable creatures, the stable fly. If you haven't been properly introduced to this terror, lucky you. Off doesn't work, and neither does Deet. At this point, I'm certain that if a nuclear holocaust took place, these pain in the ass flies would still be around. We were literally swarmed by these flies, which followed us all the way to 12 Mile Beach.
Upon reaching 12 Mile Beach, my buddy Don abruptly rolled his kayak and took a brief but unexpected swim in Lake Superior. It was definitely the highlight of MY trip. Nothing like seeing a buddy flail around in his kayak.
We unpacked as quickly as we could as we were literally covered in stable flies. After retreating from the beach, we quickly got camp set up and started a fire to dry off.
12 Mile Beach is absolutely beautiful, but the flies were so bad that we avoided the beach until morning. We ended up hanging around the campground, hiding out in our tents for most of the evening.
Leg 3- Coves to Chapel to Mosquito
Upon waking Thursday morning, we headed back down to the beach to load our boats and head back. Blessedly, there were no flies. Apparently, they took enough blood the day before.
We began our trip back by stopping off at Chapel Beach for lunch and some hiking. Chapel Rock is a striking feature just east of Chapel Beach. There is also a very nice campground which sits just atop the beach.
While paddling in to beach at Chapel, it was my turn to take a swim. The waves were still a bit choppy, and very easily rolled my kayak in as we beached. When I say that Lake Superior is cold, I don't think I get the point across...it is heart stoppingly cold....
After drying off, taking some shots of Chapel Rock, and eating lunch, we headed back toward Mosquito campground. We took our time, stopping in various coves and getting as many pictures as we could.
Upon reaching Mosquito Beach, the lake was as calm as glass...and best of all, no flies. We set up camp, watched an amusing group of Boy Scouts fumble around trying to set up tents, and headed down to the beach to watch the sun set.
Leg 4- Mosquito to Miner's
We finished the trip up with a short 30 minute paddle back to Miner's Beach in calm waters. Upon reaching our destination, we saw that a news camera team had set up show in the parking lot. Naturally, I asked them what was going on. The response I got was: "We're here doing a story on the murder." A remark that naturally interested me, seeing as how I just spent a week out in the woods in this area. However, it turns out that the murder had happened a year ago..some guy threw his wife off a cliff, which just goes to prove that there are idiots everywhere.
In short, Pictured Rocks now sits atop my all time favorite of places. Nothing in the eastern United States compares to this place in terms of scenery and calm.