Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grand Teton National Park Day 1 - June 7, 2012

Taggart Lake.

Our first full day in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (or is it just Jackson) dawned bright, cool, and clear. While it was forecast to reach a high of about 70F when we first left the hotel it was only in the mid-30s. We decided that we would start the trip with a fairly easy yet hopefully scenic hike. After visiiting a visitor center and getting some additional information and a (perhaps) less-than-necessary small bear spray we drove out to the trailhead for the Taggart Lake trail. We are staying in downtown Jackson which is something on the order of 10 miles from that trailhead (and others like Jenny Lake; far more distant to places like Jackson Lodge). This means we have longer drives to and from our hotel but the upside is that our options for places to eat and perhaps things to do when not hiking are somewhat expanded. With one thing and another we reached the trailhead around 09:30.

The hike we planned would take us past Taggart Lake and up to Bradley Lake before turning around, closing a loop, and taking us back to the parking lot - about a 6 mile hike gaining and loosing about 975 feet. The trail is hardpacked dirt and, near the parking area, almost gravel-like. Within ten minutes we came to Taggart Creek which was a boiling mass of whitewater pouring under the footbridge. Once we passed the torrent our stroll would slowly ascend and take us past a small ranch where a couple mules were hanging out (and later being trained for something or other). It was here standing not far from a slowly rising hillside that we saw a couple differnt little critters. One may have been a ground squirrel and the other was clearly something different - perhaps a weassal according to park ranger Daniel. We were also in luck having already spotted quite a few different types of wildflowers inclduing lupine, arrow (?) balsam (leaves are a bit arrow shaped), and several others. Spring has come a bit earlier than usual. One thing we noticed about the flowers we recognized, like lupine, was that they were far smaller than what grow back home. I suppose the different environment here must have something to do with that though exactly what diffrences play key roles in this I have no idea.

YouTube Video

Perhaps you can tell what thus little critterbis. I am not surebif the chitter you hear is from it though that sound reminds me of a squirrel.

Not long after leaving the spot where we saw the animals we caught up with a ranger-lead hike. Daniel was taking a small group of people to Taggart Lake and imparting all sorts of knowledge about the park as they went. We decided to tag along and for the next mile and a half we very slowly made our way through meadow-like areas, recovering lodgepole pine forests that were barely older than the ranger himself (about 26 years old), and ever up and closer to the glacial lake. Daniel pointed out quite a bit about tree identification, the nature of various rocks in the region, and some talk about climate change. During that bit we learned that the pine bark bettles that are wreaking havoc on the white (and other?) pines are a native species that are in the midst of a population boom. That boom is a result of warmer winters. The bettles aren't having the die-offs they used to have. Of course, as they destroy pines that in turn affects food supplies for all manner of creatures up to and including bears. Another species that is being hit hard by changing climate is the tiny pika. Apparently if it rises above 78 degrees for even a short time the pika die. This means they're moving up the mountains where food is scarce and that can't be good for them. It was time well spent though you do have to accept a very slow pace and we were glad to say goodbye to the litle group at Taggart Lake.

A good view of some of the mountains. From right to left (moving southernly)I believe we have Mount Teewinot, Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and Nez Perce. South Teton may be peeking through on the far left.

Lake is surprisingly large. Your first glimpspe of it doesn't really give you any sense of the size of the lake or of its rich reflecting colors. You need to move further along the trail towards Bradley Lake to find a viewpoint where you get a much better sense of the lake's nature. I'm not sure if there is any camping around Taggart Lake but it sure looks pretty. We left that lake behind and began the gentle ascent up and around towards Bradley which is, I think, about 1.2 miles away and a couple hundred feet higher. When we got there and found a place for lunch we were happy to settle in for a spell. Bradley didn't gleam quite as wonderfully as Targgart did but it is a nice lake and I would be happy to spend a night there. I suspect people thoroughly enjoy fishing in these lakes and connecting streams.

The hike back to the parking area was pleasant too. Until you near a junction with the Taggart Lake trail you are seeing different stuff. The last mile or so is a repeat of the outbound hike except somehow it seems to take much longer and Mom and I both thought we were strolling along the creek for much longer than we had on the outbound trek. Perhaps it is simply the fact that descents, for me, are slower even when they are gentle like this one was. But in due time we crossed the two footbridges, passed the mule ranch, and the spot where we saw the little critters, and at about 13:20 we returned to the car. A nice first day's hike of about 9km with about 300 meters of elevation change (up and down) was over. We had plenty of time to still visit other places.

We got into the car and barely after pulling out of the parking lot stopped alongside a bunch of other cars. People were standing on the road shoulder gazing out towards the river. We had heard that a mother moose had calved about a week ago and the female moose we saw with a calf was likely that very one. She was comfortably ensconsed by a copse of trees at the edge of the river. Her calf was close by. It was a great sight and I do wonder if the moose care that people aren't all that far away gauking at them. I hope we weren't causing stress. I actually got some halfway decent imagery with my tiny lens on the Lumix and iPhone. I hope the fellow with the truly massive zoom got some great shots of the moose.

YouTube Video

Just beyond this cow moose is the river. Her calf is just off to the right out of view. I am no good at judging distance but i don't think they are that far away.

We continued on our way to check out Jackson Lodge which is a recent addition (less then ten years I think) to the histroic register. It's not a bad looking building though I understand it is built from materials designed to mimick local materials - sort of faux. The views from the second floor are great. The pie at the little diner was also nice even though the decor was rather lacking. It isn't that I think hanging farm implements and such on the walls is a bad idea especially if they represent some history which I believe they do but those painfully white walls and limp white curtains do nothing to give the endles counter top with its multiple soda fountains a good sense of place. Oh well.

All in all it has been a good first day. We topped it off with a very fine dinner at Cafe Genevieve (far better than the burgers at the SIlver Dollar - for $11.50 that burger should have been better; it would have been in Ann Arbor). We wandered about the downtown a bit marvelling that so many stores seem to shut their doors by 19:00 which strikes us as rather early for a tourist town. Tomorrow we will tackle another part of the park and see what we can discover in the vicinity of Cascade Canyon and Jenny Lake.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Glacier National Park

We had a long-ish travel day yesterday but a pretty easy one all things considered. Taking a route through se veral National Forests may have slowed things down a bit but certainly made for a prettier drive. We even got to discover a fine little coffee/bakery plus pottery crafts shop in Four Corners, MT where we had a thoroughly enjoyable late-morning snack. We found our way to Kalispel in due time and our initial impressions of this sprawling town are that it is much less interesting than say West Yellowstone. But that is probably unfair and owes something to the fact that you need to drive everywhere

The weather today was a little on the iffy side. It was cooler, in the mid to upper 50s, and rained on and off all day. While we hiked under the rich forests of hemlock, cedar, and numerous other trees we were pretty well sheltered from the rain. The first three photos here are from our second somewhat longer hike to Avalanche Lake. It is a hike of about 2.6 miles (one way) from the parking lot by the main road. You gain several hundred feet of elevation and end the hike at the stunning lake you see here. You can also see that the weather has caused us to put our complete wardrobe to good use.

The morning hike took us around Johns Lake through hemlock forests that have something of a fairyland aspect to them under the showering sky. The licheon that are clinging to everything certainly add to that feeling.


Snyder Lake is about 4.4 miles north-northeast of Lake McDonald lodge from the Sperry Trailhead and some 2,150 feet higher in elevation. It is a good hike and once past the toughest piece which is at the start not that tough. Even the tough bit which quickly ascended about 1,000 feet in about 1.6 miles on wide steep switchbacks isn't really too wretched if taken at a slow steady pace. You start climbing through forest and all the time the sound of rushing waters of Snyder Creek rumble in the background. When you begin heading mostly east you gently ascend along a narrow trail which is rife with what are surely seasonal streams making the trail a sometimes muddy mess. It really is a nice trail. Wildflowers abound from what I think were small yellow glacier lilies and little white and violet flowers mixed amongst bunches of cow parsnip and bear grass which in shape reminds me a bit of how yucca grow though the leaves are, obviously, quite different. As we neared the lake we crossed a scree field. I wish I had a photo to share of the pikas that were making their homes here. We heard them pipe up now and then announcing that they knew we were here. I do, however, have a photo showing the extent of the snow field we had to cross. I expect it was pushing three feet deep in places - I slipped to my thigh in one hole. Snyder Lake itself was nice enough though I think the vista surrounding Avalanche Lake was a bit better.


Our last day in Glacier National Park was going to be an easy day of gentle and sort day hikes. The weather remained bright and even warmer then the day before when we visited Snyder Lake. We decided to return to the Trail of the Cedars to get a proper sense of the forest there. The cedar trees are impressive. They are quite tall and with their scaled bark with long vertical striations look even more majestic. They lack the stupendous girth of a Sequoia but it is not hard to see why people might consider this place sacred. Thee raging blue-tinged waters of Avalanche Creek are shown in the first two photoos. The first facing upstream and the second downstream with much more sunn glinting off the forest and water (which is actually a bit more green than blue) We made a few stops along McDonald Creek heading down to Apgar Village and you can see the effects of the glacial four coloring that water green too (what happens when the glaciers melt - will glacial flour vanish and lakes and streams become less colorful?). We walked the Rocky Point Nature Trail Loop which is a nice trail but if you are expecting a path with interpretive signs and a path anyone can walk with absolutely no trouble you'll be a bit surprised as some modest hills exist (but little kids were walking it with their adult leaders). Wildflowers were in great abundance along this path; even more than we found along the upper reaches of the trail to Snyder Lake. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that in 2003 the region was part of the Roberts forest fire. You can see some of the results of that fire in the last photo We also spent time on a boat tour, riding the DiSMET (think that is right) which is an 82 year old boat plying the waters of Lake McDonald. The water looks even morre green than the photo suggests. Perhaps it is better to say it is a bit lighter in sshade - more turquoise. The views of the mountains fringed with snow mixed with tthe shoreline coated with both burned and unburned trees was quite nice.

Photos 1-4 are our first day at Glacier.

Photos 5-7: The area around Snyder Lake.

Photos 8-12: Avalanche Creek, along Rocky Point Trail in the region of the Roberts forest fire gazing out across the southern end of Lake McDonald, a view from the turquoise or maybe light emerald colored Lake McDonald.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

What follows is a glimpse into our now completed visit to some of the mountsin West premiere National Parks. I'll have more to share later.


Yellowstone We are in West Yellowstone now. Our first two days in Grand Teton National Park were quite good. We saw quite the variety of scenery and wildlife including half a dozen moose and two black bears. The reflecting lake is Taggart Lake. The photo with Mom and Dad and the snow-clad mountain were taken in Cascade Canyon were we saw most of the animals. The brilliant blue pool is in the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. We also have seen herds of bison in Yellowstone.


Our time in Yellowstone is coming to an end. It could hardly have been more varied. On our second day we saw the temperature drop down into the 30s and thee sky spit little ice pellets, called graupel, at us. It sounds worse than it was as much of our hiking was done in forest which sheltered us from the biting wind. Thee first picture is of the Yellowstone River as it rages from one cataract to a calm portion as seen from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Trail. While we only could walk a half mile of this trail it was a great half mile as we also saw a couple of marmots. We later explored the North Rim Trail visiting the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. That waterfall drops some 309 feet and you can get a glimpse of in the 7th and especially 8th photos which were actually takaen from a lookout at Artists Point. The rocks might not look quite that viid but they're not far from it showing off their various colors of pink, yellow, brown, and red. The photo of me gives you a bit of a sense of the weather yesterday. The final picture of Mom and Dad was taken at the Monument Geyser Basin which you reach by doing a 1.2 mile hike up to a mountaintop some 650 feet above the trailhead. That geyser basin isn't anywhere as active as many in the park but it was hissing and emitting steam while we were there this morning. I should note that the weather today was about as different from yesterday as you could want: the high temperature was about 62F and it was mostly sunny all day. We did 3 very nice hikes today to round our time here at Yellowstone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail Day 4- May 28, 2012

You can click the pictures to see larger versions.

Photo: Miner's castle.

For whatever reason I did not have the best night's sleep. I don't think my spot for my campsite was the issue. I just did not sleep well. The camp, now slightly diminished with the departure yesterday afternoon of Gail, Sue, and Julie (they left at Chapel Beach), was dealing with morning chores by 06:30. It was a light gray morning and hints that it could rain were in the air. By 07:30 we were on the move heading towards Potato Patch and then our planned first stop at the eastern end of Miners Beach for a "second breakfast" and first break. The morning began to warm and clear as we walked. The wildflowers, most of which I still really did not see, caught the attention of others. We spread out a bit and within two hours we all found ourselves walking down to the beach. Joni decided to stay along the tree line and walk to the picnic area (not necessarily any easier walking as the trail is sandy up there too) while the rest of us found a shady spot at the base of the bluff by a small pour-off to get water and have another bite to eat.

Photo: The eastern end of the beach just west of Potato Patch has places to sit and easily fetch water from either Lake Superior or this pour-off. Last year we found people nit only camped near here but having a camp fire(double no-no). No one was around this year. In fact, until we hot close to the visitor center at Miners Castle we didn't really see anyone.

Walking the beach is a chore and pleassure. Andy was probably the smart one having shed his socks and shoes and going barefoot. That way when the inevitable happened and Lake Superior caught us unaware he at least only got his feet wet; we soaked our socks and shoes (well at least Elwira and I did). The going is slow but when it isn't hot with a bright high sun blasting down upon you walking along the beach is particularly enjoyable. In time we reached the stairs that take you to the picnic area where Joni had enjoyed her respite. We took a break here to get sand out of our shoes and watch a couple kayak guides bring kayaks down from a parking lot to the picnic area preparing for a day trip tha runs people up to Mosquito Beach and back again. The clouds were still pretty much wholly present and it still looked a little iffy but I am sure they pay atention to the weather and know when they can and cannot safely run a trip. We left them to their work and hiked on.

You leave the picnic area and wander through a forest and past a stream before beginning the last serious climb of the trip. It is a modestly steep climb but in reality it isn't that long. Sure you feel it as you ascend but anyone in even modest shape can manage it. Last year the trail in that area was covered in lots of slick mud and I took a nasty fall just after summitting the climb narrowly missing hitting my head on a rock. This year the trail was dry. It's probably about a mile from the picnic area to the visitor center at Miner's Castle and I think we arrived there around 11:30. We had already taken some nice long breaks and we woulld do so again at the visitor center. We snagged a couple tables for our final lunch and some went to explore the gift shop and do other chores before we topped off our water (which we did treat as the well had not been tested yet and confirmed safe). By this time the temperature had warmed considerably and the sun was gaining dominion in the sky chasing the clouds away. We had a little over 5 miles to go and wanted to be sure to get to Sand Point with enough time to visit park HQ to talk to the rangers about the people who had been making fires at 7 Mile and Trappers Lake (not to cause trouble per se but because the park staff do need to know).

Joni took off ahead of the rest of us and that was the last we saw of her until Sand Point. She must have zipped down the trail. Andy, John, and Dennis pulled ahead of Elwira and myself even though they stopped often for Andy to gather photos of the many wildflowers. Elwira and I trailed behind, though only 5 or so minutes according to the guys, as we snaked our way through the forest on what was now a very warm and humid afternoon. This year all the little streams that had been flowing last year were all but dry. A couple times El was able to get some water to wet her bandana to wrap around her neck. I never bothered. I think this section of trail is alright but it lacks the good Superior views you see so much of east of Mosquito Beach. Why anyone would choose to stay at The Cliffs campsite which is waterless and devoid of nice views is beyond me.
About 3 miles in there is a stream with small waterfall that makes for an excellent place to gather water (again all hale the camp bucket) and take a break. With sweat pouring off of us taking a final break of about 30 minutes was a real pleasure. We topped off our water with much better tasting stream water and struck out for the steps that take you past a large rock overhang with a stream gushing under it that take you down to the level of Lake Superior and mark that point where you are about a mile from Sand Point. As we approach those steps we noticed the temperature dropping and the wind gaining speed. Clouds were rolling back in and we were developing a sense of deja vu. Last year we scurried down the steps and hunkered under that overhang worrying about a storm blasting us. This year the change in weather though noticeable wasn't as pronounced and though the temperature would drop a good 18 degrees rain did not arrive for quite some time. We spread out somewhat as the end neared. I ended up being last in line which is hardly a surprise as I really don't go quickly down those "steps." You could hear the tolling of a harbor bell buoy and I think people did speed up knowing the weather could be readying itself to be nasty and knowing that our pizzas at Main Street Pizza awaited. By 15:35 we were all at the cars changing into fresher clothing and getting ready for the visit to park HQ. They were very interested in what we had to tell them and I expect sad things will happen for some people but given those people were in the wrong I don't feel sympathy for them. Once that was done it was time for the end-of-hike dinner at the pizza joint. The rain that had been holding off began to come down in sheets as we stuffed ourselves with pizza before we said our goodbyes and all began the long drive back home.

It has been a very good long weekend of hiking. I do wish we could make the drive back less stressful and tireing for everyone, especially the drivers, but without actually stopping for several hours at a hotel I suppose that just will not happen. John depositied me home at 03:30 and I am quite thankful to him for the ride.

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail Day 3 - May 27, 2012

You can click the pictures to see larger versions.

We ended the day sitting on the rocky beach at Mosquito Beach watching a very nice sunset. A few high fluffy clouds added quality to the sunset - after all clouds make a sunset a bit better. Given how dreary the day started out having the sunset under crisp clear skies was a treat. When we finally began dragging ourselves out of bed this morning things were different.

During the night it rained a bit, nothing heavy, but enough to dampen our shelters. Once in a while the wind seemed to shift just right and some of us caught whiffs of smoke which we assume is from the forest fire by Seeney. A nocturnal vistior, could have been a bear or a raccoon or something completely inocuous kept others up for a couple of hours too. In short a lively night.

We began pulling ourselves together somehwat later than the day before. I think the grey damp weather probably had something to do with that. But we got on to the trail just before 09:00. The hike at first is not terribly interesting even with the scattered views of Big Beaver Lake. We stopped at one of these for a bite to eat and were able to watch a boat putter on by below - probably someone out fishing.

Until we neared Chapel Beach the sun really did not banish the clouds. At The Coves, wonderful sandstgone coves, we hung out for a bit enjoying the scenery. We strolled along the high cliffs getting closer to Spray Falls which this time I did not see. I walked right by the best viewing spot for the falls which is a shame. I understand they were spurting pretty well. I suppose I could have backtracked after passing the so seemingly small stream that creates the brilliant spray of Spray Falls.

Photo: We came upon Grand Portal Point with the dun high in the sky ruining colors. I don't recall that massive boulder blocking the arch last year.

Photo: a tour boat out of Munising I think. Now and then they rumble by with their public address systems barring unintelligibly. You go to views the shoreline from the water and I am sure it is stunning.

By the time we arrived at Chapel Beach, early afternoon now around 14:00, the sun had long since burned the clouds off and the day had warmed to about 76. It was hot by our standards. We were not in a hurry to leave and so hung out on a bluff overlooking the seemingly rockus beach activity of what I suppose were mostly day hikers . Now and then a tour boat rumbled on by but none of this really bothered us. It was a great place to take a siesta and ours lasted the better part of two hours.

Photo: we had a great gime watching the sunset on the sandstone point at Mosquito Beach.

One thing about this poriton of the hike is it is full of views of Lake Superior. In the morning she was grey and a bit agitated but by the time we were strutting down the trail edging along the clifftops west of Chapel Beach she was a wonderful turquoise shading to rich blue farther out. Spectacular. We walked into Mosquito Beach campground a bit before 19:00 and got ourselves set up. To avoid the bugs and be closer to the sunset we elected to have dinner near the beach. What a great choice that was. The bugs danced on our legs but that was a small price to pay. It has been a very good day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail Day 2 - May 26, 2012

You can click the pictures to see larger versions.

Photo: Au Sable lighthouse.
It took a bit longer to drift off to sleep last night than I would have liked. In fact I don't think I got the best night of sleep I have had which is a bit disherartening. Maybe the moon was shining on in or, more likely, the chill breeze disturbed me. Hopefully tonight will be better. The camp really got itself moving around 07:00 and just after 08:00 under clear sunny skies we were heading out towards breakfast at the Au Sable Lighthouse. Last year the lighthouse was shrouded under rainy skies. Today there was not a hint of rain and the white and red lighthouse stood out wonderfully along with its many out-buildings. You actually felt like you were baking on the porch as you ate breakfast. Wonderful.
We headed down to the beach which was a real treat for everyone this year. The lake was a deep blue and little whitecaps broke against the rocks and shipwrecks alike. The scene was gorgeous. I had missed the shipwrecks last year so was really happy to see what was left of these once proud boats. We ambled along the beach skirting the surf line and enjoying the morning air. No one was in a hurry.

Photos: The shipwrecks between the lighthouse and Hurricane River. Not much left after 125 years and more. Between the cross bracing you get little pools that wax and wane with the waves.

I believe Andy considers the trail from Hurricane River to 12 Mile campground his favorite stretch. While I will grant the forest is nice I don't think it is my favorite potion. Perhaps if I could see the variety of flowers and trees better I'd have a different opinion. Like yesterday the trail had several blowdowns to contend with though I do think they were less numerous.
The excitement of the day would come when we arrived at 7 Mile after our rather languid lunch at 12 Mile. When I arrived, several minutes after the lead group, I had missed the excitement. There is a fire ban in effect. It has been in effect since at least the 25th. It is very dry out here and there have been many fires. Andy and others found a group who had a roaring fire going in a fire ring. No one seemed to want to douse the fire (and they had been told by others it was wrong). Luckily for them no ranger had come by yet to see this illegal fire. Andy couldn't find anyone in charge so he doused the fire himself. That caused a bit of rancor with the guy that might be that group's leader and I suppose he felt Andy was being presumptuous but really a fire ban is not imposed because people don't like fires but because a fire can so easily get out of control and cause massive damage. I hope those folks understand what the real issue was but I admit I'll never know (and doubt they do).
After taking a pleasant break on the 7 Mile beach

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail Day 2 - May 26, 2012: I eish i had a series of photos tracking how this aging wreck of a Plymouth has changed over the years. I'm sure the graffiti is far you ger than the car.
We pushed on the last 4 miles (12.1 mile day) to Trappers Lake. Again the trail had some blowdowns to deal with but it also passed through some lovely hemlock forest and through other pleasing areas. By 18:15 everyone had arrived at the camppground as clouds completed taking over the sky. Now a little before 21:00 it is overcast with clouds that look marginally threatening. It feels more humid than last night and the temerpature now is about 63. I think it will be cooler tonight and I expect it will rain. That'll help keep unwanted fires out (someone was here last night and they had a fire that we found the remains of this afternoon and the ashes were still warm).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail Day 1 - May 25, 2012

Remember you can click pictures to see larger versions.

Everyone else is likely asleep by now . I've just gotten everything sorted under my Trailstar into a semblance of reasonable order and so now with darkness pretty much wholly upon us I can begin to discuss today's procedings. Perhaps some of you who have read my trail journals before will be wondering what I could possibly have to say about a trail I have hiked twice before (I'm a newbie compared to some people on this trip who have trekked along the Lakeshore Trail at least 10 times. I am only on my third traverse). While it may be true I have less to say about some things it is certainly not the case that I have nothing to say. After all, this year is different from last year which was different from the time several years before when I hiked the trail the first time.
We stayed at the campground in Bay Furnance National Forest. This is a forest just by Christmas, MI and we elected to stay there because a forest fire was burning not far from Seney where we normally would stay. This campground is closer to Munising than the one at Seney but that meant we had a longer driving day Thursday. The flipside is you get to sleep in an hour so I suppose is is something of a six-of-one; half-dozen of the other deal. We set our shelters up under spitting skies and very warm air temperature. It was warmer last night at 01:30 (OK, this morning) than it is now (60F at 22:30). The rains had subsided by the time And and Elwira arrived around 02:00 and everyone slept as well as might be expected until about 07:00 when we all seriously began getting our stuff together for the drive into Munising for breakfast at Sydneys. We found Joni already there waiting for us having spent another superb time at the Sunset lodge (Inn?). We linked up with Gail and her sister Julie and Gail's friend Sue at the park visitor center around 09:00 and once we got the paperwork squared away we went to pick up the All Tran (Altran?) shuttle at Sand Point. The morning was bright and quite clear. In direct sunshine it could prove to be pretty warm but under the shade of the forest we did not expect it to be unpleasant at all. When the shuttle dropped us off at the Sable Falls trailhead around 11:00 we shouldered our burdens and sallied forth.

Photo: walk fown the steps too get a nice view of this waterfall.
Last year, around this time, the trail was bursting with wildflowers, especially trillum. This year it seems that the wildflower season came earlier and the bulk of it has now passed into history. Some trillum and star flowers can be found here and there, and ladyslippers pop up now and then along with little flurries of violets. But it is nothing compared to last year. Compared to last year the number of blow downs, large and small, is also quite imcomparable. I did not count how many we climbed over and detoured around but it was well into double digits through the entire 9 mile section. Even at popular places like the paved access path that leads to the Logslide a large blowdown that will require a chain saw gang to clear impedes traffic. I don't think these all came down just recently but it is clear the park service must be struggling to get certain tasks done. The blowdowns did slow us down a bit and certainly made the trail much more of a nature trail than it otherwise might be tought of. However, we made reasonable time nonethless.

Photos: Though you really cannot see it the Au Sable Lighthouse sits on the farther point perhaps 2 trail miles distant. The pink lady slippers were on the path to my camping spot.
We arrived at Au Sable East group site around 18:30 which was pretty much when we expected to arrive. We had taken nice breaks here and there and since sunset wasn't until after 21:00 and darkness probably doesn't really close in until close on 22:00 we were in no hurry to get to the campsite. Once there we got chores done but as soon as most of us could get back down to Lake Superior we did. Our excuse was that we had to collect water for cooking and such. But really given the quality of the Lake wouldn't you rather spend time on a beach chatting with friends instead of sitting on a hard rough log around a fire ring you cannot use due to a fire ban? Most of us would choose the former: and did.

Photos: Julie (top) and Gail (below) on the beach at our campsite at Au Sable East.
I'm going to sign off now and get some well deserved rest. I also hope to find that the rest will do my leg some good. I slammed the crap out of it on a rock on the beach just after sunset and though I don't think I did serious damage it does hurt some now and I hope that will pass by tomorrow morning.