Our first destination was in the Porcupine Mountains. This resides in the upper peninsula of Michigan near the border of Wisconsin. Nestled up to the southern end of Lake Superior, the Porcupine Mountains have virgin hemlock and cedar forests, bountiful rivers, rapids, and waterfalls. One area allows for views of Lake of the Clouds. A person could often look down upon the clouds hovering above the lake. Unlike Minnesota, visitors are allowed to venture off the trails to seek out secluded places to enjoy God’s creation. Joel used to backpack there with a college friend many years ago and wanted to pass along some memories of this beautiful place to the boys.
On the first day we explored trails on the west side of the park. Our youngest was only a small peanut next to the monstrous trees. Our oldest contemplated how difficult it would be to have to cut and split even one tree if he needed it for firewood. “You could probably get three cords from just one tree!”
When they were near the waterfalls, they were in awe at their beauty. One of them thought it had to have been manmade to have such sharp and even corners, just like steps. We had to convince him that it was naturally like that. The other one thought it was neat to see how powerful the water was to create nice circle cutouts in other rocks as it swirled around flowing downstream.
The next day, we pulled off the road and peeked in the opening of an old copper mine, the Union Mine. It reminded me of the Seven Dwarfs’ mine in Snow White, held up with wood beams and only half my height. Water flowed and drained from the mine looking like a 6” deep river constantly moving on the floor. Next, we viewed the Lake of the Clouds and then hiked a small portion of the Lake Superior Trail.
The portion we hiked started off in the virgin hemlock forest. The trees are so large, at least 12 foot diameter, not much undergrowth was around. This created a parklike setting. On this day trip, we crossed over boardwalks that consisted of two 2×4 planks for width, bridges, and countless roots. About one-third of the way down, the forest changed into the second growth forest that was more dense. However, the adventure of the wobbly boardwalks and large boulders necessary to climb in the path spurred the boys on. After the three mile hike down, we reached Lake Superior’s shoreline. While us parents were ready for a nap, the boys continued their activity skipping rocks until we were ready to continue on.
Hungry and eager to return to the top, my oldest became my “turbo booster” as he occasionally pushed me along up the incline again. Afterwards, my youngest discovered he had a blister on his finger. The wound occurred because he was constantly swinging his water bottle the entire way, pivoting it in the same spot on his finger. Of all ways to hurt himself! I couldn’t help but laugh a bit. Overall, we hiked six miles that day.
Once food was in the family’s stomachs, they were ready to continue on in their day. We looked around at the Visitors Center and went down to Lake Superior to skip rocks for some time. While I prepared supper, the boys swung on swings, scaled across the top of the swing set and then played frisbee. They also met a boy and quickly joined in their family’s game of volleyball, then soccer. This was followed up with more frisbee. Wow. I am ever amazed at the energy level kids have. They slept well that night.
During this time, we stayed at the Union Bay Porcupine Mountains State Park Campground. We had electricity and our site backed up to the playground. Other sites backed up to the lake, but everyone had access to the shoreline. They recently built a modern restroom facility complete with clean showers and laundry. A camp hostess was onsite to answer questions and help out where needed. I was very impressed at how the park staff made frequent trips around the campground to ensure all was well. A 24/7 quiet hours restriction ensured no wild parties. Even all the dogs around remained relatively quiet. This campground was very family friendly and would recommend it to other families.
On the personal side, I did feel like a country girl though. I found myself watching the neighbors because they were so close compared to what I am used to. Their every movement caught my eye. “Looks like corn on the cob for supper tonight.” “Now the boys are playing with sticks.” “Lots of people serving hot dogs for supper tonight.” I also discovered my territorial instinct, watching any person walking through to get to the playground. Joel also had to remind me to use my quiet voice when calling to the boys from inside the trailer. This all reminds me of dormitory life. I’ll get used to it…I think.
Until we meet again,