Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 9, 2008 – Black River Harbor, Michigan – shores of Lake Superior

We camped last night in the birch and oak forests just above Black River Harbor on the shores of Lake Superior just over the Michigan border. We’ve left Wisconsin behind and are now bound across the northern Peninsula (or NP) as the locals refer to this area. We drive from Route 28 north to the shore through dense forest. Along the 15 miles side trip north we see signs for numerous waterfalls – then suddenly, the leaves part and we are on the edge of the lake at our campsite. No transition, not introduction. Just forest, then Lake – forever. Our site is on a bluff over the lake, and we can’t even see the shore beneath, but can hear the waves gently lapping the rocks and sand that must surely be there waiting for the water after its log wind blown journey from the north. We scurry as quick as we can through the forest looking for a way down t the water’s edge to a vista not impaired by the leafy filter of the northern woods. We stumble upon a trail that leads us to the Black River, and its mouth where it joins the mighty lake. There is a stone break protecting the river’s mouth which allows a collection of small fishng boats safe harbor in the river just upstream. This park is mentioned in GORP (The great Outdoor recreation Pages) on the internet in case you want to read more about it. We come across this write-up while trying to coax driving directions out of a reluctant iPhone.

There is a wood buttressed suspension bridge across the river (no sailboats going further upriver from here) and find the beach and its long stretch of sand and rocks that forms the boundary between sky, inland sea and woodland covered shoreline.
This morning we continue east after stopping briefly at two water falls within ¼ mile of the road. Each fall required a hike down tall steps to the river, but we both relished the morning exercise before the prospect of another numbing day in the car seats. There is a lot of light tan foam accumulating below the falls – a sign of pollution I think – but not sure as I’ve not been in these woods before.

The road climbs higher now onto this northern peninsula and the woods seem wilder. This whole region was referred to in the 1800’s as a “Pinary” and fortunes were made and squandered extracting the timber from this region. The mansion built along Lake Michigan lower in the state were a testament to the wealth produced by the scale of this undertaking. Now, the trees all seem about the same age, and same size – a whisper of what I imagine they were when harvested originally.

We strike up a conversation at a lakeside stop and learn that the west shore of Lake Michigan is indeed where we “should” be going – where the lake’s waves are sufficient for surfing, and where the true beauty of the state resides, We mark our map for future consideration, but continue east and a north along our planned trajectory.
We blow by the small intersection labeled “Harvey” on the map but fail to find a safe spot for the photo opportunity to capture the irony.

Lake Superior is now hard on our left with white caps crashing onto a sandy beach. The wind tugs at our camper’s canopy and Diane works hard at the wheel to stay on course between the white and dashed yellow lines. Luckily, the speed limit is slow here so slight swerves don’t force adrenalin to squirt the way it does when we are speeding along the interstates at 75. From here to the Canadian border we mostly travel across National and State forest land – Hiawatha National Forest, Lake Superior National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll travel south of Whitefish Bay and make our crossing into Canada late this afternoon or tomorrow at Sault Ste Marie.

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