Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Day 3

A glimpse of Little Beaver Lake. This is a shallow lake that can be great for swimming.

During the warm nigh it began to rain. I don't think it was ever a hard rain but it lasted for some time. It wasn't enough rain to really bother anyone just enough to wake us up and check our tents or tarps. Those who enjoyed getting up very early, like Doug, did so and the rest of the camp woke up at more leisurely and reasonable hours after the sun had risen. We found fairly blue skies and a steadily warming morning: fine hiking weather.

Tim and Nancy were the first to leave I think just before 08:00. Doug left around that time too and Matt and Jen left somewhat later. Joni, Andy, Gail, Elwira, and I left just before 09:00. No one had been in a real hurry to leave camp and there was no reason to rush. We started our walk along the trail passing Little Beaver Lake which was looking pretty nice and heading towards the campground at Beaver Falls which sits above a particularly wide beach of very white sand on Lake Superior. We saw a handful of sea kayaks beached there but no one came out to the beach during the considerable time we spent hanging out having a mid-morning snack.

Perhaps the most interesting bridge along the whole trail it is by The Beaver Creek campground. -photo by Gail Staisil

Upon leaving the beach we climbed up on to the cliffs that clung to the Superior shoreline. We strolled through the dense forest with lookout points popping up now and then giving us great views of the Lake. At this point the lake was shades of light green with hints of tan in the shallow beach parts. We came upon the Coves which are rock coves that have been wearing away for some time and it was at this point that we were haled from above. Doug, Tim and Nancy called down to us and to say we were a bit surprised that they were there and that they had not seen Matt and Jen was putting it mildly. It turned out they had taken the long way around Little Beaver Lake adding a couple of miles to their day which also neatly explained why they hadn't seen anyone else. I'm not quite sure why they did that but I think they enjoyed themselves despite having to contend with a great increase in biting flies and such.

Our group slowly spread out again as the morning edged into
the afternoon and we closed in on Spray Falls. Spray Falls was a gusher this time. It was spurting water out from the cliffs quite a ways before falling with gusto into the lake. Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised by this because we had already passed by a couple of waterfalls that Andy says he has never seen flowing so briskly before. The downside to all this water is that the trail is in many places quite mucky. The kind of muck that can suck a shoe off if you are unlucky. Definitely the kind of mud that can invade a Keen sandal turning a dry havan into a moist one (though a shoe would have been worse). When we stoped for lunch not too far, a couple of miles perhaps, from Chapel Beach we noticed that it was clouding up. those clouds would open up with intermittent rain that was at times more than just a drizzle. It was more than enough to cause us to put on rainwear. Of course with the clouds and rain the character of Lake Superior changed again.

Spray Falls. The close-up photo is bt Gail Staisil. My recollection is that Superior was more green as you see in the wider shot. One thing that surprised me was how small the stream feeding the waterfall seemed to be. Clearly my impression was wrong.

The lake has moods. You can see them expressed in the frequency and intensity of the waves on the surf line. But they're also visible as the lake changes color. As the clouds took over the lake shaded into rich deep emerald green hues. The hue you might associate with a high alpine tarn or glacially fed lake. Fantastic coloring. The forest durning this time also had become incredibly still. It was as if everything was holding its breah waiting for a storm to break. Fortunately no storm came.

Andy Mytys took this picture of me. With the arrival of the clouds, but before the rain, the lake shifted to this wonderful emerald green hue. Gail Staisil's photo shows another fine view of the varied shoreline.

Here is just a sample of how rich forest colors can be. This is a downed log but it is lively nonetheless.

Chapel Beach was something of a zoo. Three tour boats were plying the waters offshore. People on the boats were gawking at the shoreline cliffs and people on the beach. Those on the beach gawked back towards the boats. Both sets hooted and hollered at each other. Overpowering it all was the blaring of the boat's PA systems describing what was worth taking note of. Not the most pleasant of places and we did not linger overly long. It was mid-afternoon by this point and we still had 4 miles to go. Again the trail got muddy as we strolled through the clifftop forests. We would pass a few people, some woefully dressed (cotton t-shirts, sweat pants) during the rain. I hope they were returning to their cars (easily 3.5 miles away). We also passed some other backpackers who also were carrying gear none of us would ever consider: huge packs with massive cinnamon rolls of sleeping bags. The things must've weighed a short ton. I hope they were enjoying themselves. For my part the last few miles did start to feel as though they were going to drag me down. I was tired and I needed a bathroom break. Good spots were hard to come by. I am sure I slowed down somewhat and I walked into camp a little before 18:00. After having had dinner and a chance to relax in good company I feel much better.

Gail Staisil took both of these pictures as she spent some quality time on the beach at Mosquito Beach. The photo with the lovely colors in the sky is actually facing southeast while the other one looks more northwesterly. Not long after sunset we would start to hear the distant rumble of thunder.

Most everyone else is asleep already as has been the custom of many. Jen and Doug led the pack hitting the hay around 19:30; others followed and just Andy, Matt, Elwira and I (maybe Gail) are still up. It is coming up on sunset and the tour boats are long gone. We had a sunset boat go by not long ago. God they create a ruckas. Tomorrow we hike out, about 9 miles, and I expect that some people will tear off ahead so they can start the long drive home as soon as possible. Joni, Gail, Andy, Elwira, and I certainly will not be in that group.

-- Post From My iPad
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