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.

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