UP Overland Adventure Day 4

After a rough night’s sleep, we woke up to a sunny but foggy morning. After a quick breakfast, we packed up and headed out. One of our members was heading West to check out Lake of the clouds and another member was headed home directly home, leaving just two vehicles and three people, including “Grizz”, my wife, and myself. We decided to take a slight detour on our way back to the cabin and check out Canyon Falls near L’Anse (pronounced “Lance”). This was probably the coolest of all the falls we saw. It is about a 1/2 mile walk back to the actual falls, but the walk skirts the river and lots of smaller falls.

After spending an hour at the falls, Grizz decided he would be heading home from there, while my wife and I decided to take back roads back to the cabin. The drive back was fairly uneventful, but there is some really unique roads up there. Some are straight for what seems like hours, while others are hilly and curvy. We did get to drive by an old mine, which was pretty amazing in person. The roads after that were nothing to write home (or a blog) about. After what seemed like forever, we finally made it back to the cabin. It was nice to be able to grab a shower, use the hose to wash the mud off the Jeep, and sit on something soft besides by Jeep’s seat for a little while.

We still had some hamburgers left in the cooler that we hadn’t cooked on the trail, so we decided to hit the little corner store and grab some beer. We sat on the deck, overlooking Big Bay De

Noc, watching the sun set. After dark, we tried to get some pictures of the stars that were just amazing. If you have never seen the sky at night, in the U.P., it is a must see for sure. It is overwhelming to see how many stars there are compared to other places where light pollution blocks them out.

After a good nights sleep, we loaded up the Jeep, closed up the cabin and started the five and a half hour journey home. This trip was a memorable one for sure. If I had one regret, it was not having enough time to explore. It is so big and vast up there that five days, even ten days even isn’t enough. It is really hard to put it into words, the sights in Michigan’s U.P. Some places almost seem like another state, or even another country. Lush forests, crystal clear streams, and crisp clean air. I have already began planning for my next trip back!

Here are a few more pictures from the trip that didn’t make it into the other posts.

UP Overland Adventure – Day 3

I didn’t realize I could sleep like a baby with so much noise outside. After the long night of loud sound from the waves and wind, I awoke to find a gorgeous sunrise. Honestly, it may go in the books as one of my favorites. It had warmed up quite a bit an the sun felt great after not seeing it for a couple of days.

We started the day with an excellent breakfast cooked on our new Everest Stove. Even with the wind, this thing blew my old Coleman out of the water. After breakfast, we broke camp as quick as we could so we had some time to get some pictures out of the more exposed part of High Rock point. I was able to get some beautiful pictures of our awesome Tailgater Tire Table for them since they were kind enough to donate one to us for the trip. We were even able to get some drone footage of the Jeeps before hooking up trailers and heading out.

We started back on the same trails we had driven the day before, which were filled with even more and bigger puddles than the day prior. More washed out ruts made for a little flexing fun on the way it. It wasn’t long before we were back in paved roads headed west towards Copper Harbor.

From there we took a cruise down the north side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which made for some fantastic views of the rocky shoreline. We were also able to stop by a few waterfalls and Michigan’s only active monastery which makes and sells some awesome (but “holy expensive”) jams and baked goods. After dropping $80 on goodies, and a few pictures of the buildings, we drove a couple of hundred yards down the road, where we stopped at Jacob’s Falls for some photos and lunch. Of course, we had to have PB&J with our $12 jar of Black Cherry jelly.

After lunch, we headed back down towards the Houghton/Hancock bridge where we again parted ways with our teardrop trailer buddy, while the other 3 of us got started down the Tom Nichols route towards Mass City. While the scenery on this route was amazing, the trail itself lacked any sort of fun. I guess it is catered more towards snowmobiles and fast driving side by sides, as it was smoother than the paved road I live on. About 80% of the way down the trail we met back up with our 4th member (who ironically could have easily made the trail) and continued the last leg of the journey into Mass City.

Before the trail ends, three very narrow and massive spanning bridges cross over some very deep gorges. I had seen these in videos before but being there in person was pretty awe-inspiring. We took our time going across so we could get some nice pictures and admire the view.

After finishing up the trail, we stopped in Mass City and started searching for a place to camp for the night. Our only stipulation was we wanted to be able to fish. First, we tried a spot on a river I had scouted on Google Earth. No road to be found or any clue that there ever had been. Across the street was a trail that led down to the river but no way we could all fit, and after the rain, it was pretty flooded. We continued south and found an excellent spot on a stocked fishing pond, but it didn’t allow overnight camping even though there were picnic tables and a fire ring.

With limited cell service, we checked out another free campground by Bond Falls, but after arriving, we learned it was only for hiking in with tents. No way our Jeeps and trailers were fitting in there.

With nightfall approaching, we continued to another free campsite. Luckily, nobody was there. There were three nice sites, all in a lovely wooded area. They were big enough that we all fit into one site. There was a small pond, 100 yards from the site, but after 4 of us, fishing didn’t get as much as a bite. It did though make for another gorgeous sunset.

We got a fire going and cooked up some dinner. Had some funny and interesting conversations before running out of beer and calling it a night. Laying in my tent that night, I couldn’t help but notice the quiet. No crickets, no frogs. Nothing. I woke in the middle of the night to hear buddies still laughing at the campfire. Later I awoke again to hearing coyotes miles away that reminded me of some evil witches or something. I never really realized how hard it is to sleep when it is that eerily, dead quiet. Needless to say, I really didn’t sleep much that night.

UP Overland Adventure – Day 2

After a night of decent sleep from the sound of the waves of Lake Superior and the increasing rain, we awoke to gray skies and steady rain. We decided against cooking breakfast and focused on packing up camp and getting on the road. Packing in the rain has to be the worst part of camping. Knowing we still had two nights of camping ahead of us didn’t help. The mud from getting stuck on day one was now wet again and made for some messy packing.

We started by heading south on half dirt, half paved roads, toward L’anse. From there we headed north toward Houghton/Hancock. I tried to run the JK through a car wash, but the rooftop tent left me about 7″ too high. The mud would have to stay for now.

As we crossed the bridge into Hancock, we made a couple of tricky turns to find the trailhead of the Lake Linden route. The trail starts off leading through the city. It’s pretty interesting, and you get a feeling of “should I be here” as the trail crosses lots of roads and driveways. The trail was a mix of dirt, rocks, and puddles. The rain was sort of a blessing in disguise as it made the trail a bit more fun and added a little more challenge to it.

By midday, we were again running behind. One of the most important “lessons learned” on this trip, was making our daily routes too long. I had kept it around 150 miles a day, but with slow going on trails, roads on the map that didn’t exist, wrong turns, and wanting to take in the scenery…it all adds up.

Speaking of scenery words can’t describe the beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Combined, my fiance and I took over 4500 pictures. As the trail turns North, the woodland gets thicker and looks like a different world. Some places have a long drop straight down on both sides. Rivers frequently run right next to the trail, and the views let you see for miles.

We had been traveling only about 15 mph down the trails and needed to make up some time, so one of our group, pulling a teardrop trailer, decided to jump on the main highway for a bit and meet us further down the trail since he couldn’t travel much faster on the bumpy trails. It was a good thing because not much further down the trail was a steep rocky incline that was made much worse by the rain.

We continued for a while down the trail, but our fun was ended when the trail (keep in mind this is a state route, which allows vehicles of all sizes) was blocked, only allowing ATVs. So we ended up jumping onto the high way and meeting up with our 4th rig.

We started heading north on dirt roads, towards our evening’s campsite at High Rock point. I had read high clearance vehicles are recommended to make it to this site. It was good advice as it wasn’t long before the roads quickly became muddy trails with puddle after puddle, which was pretty fun. Due to the increasing rain, many of the hills had small rivers running down them and deep ruts that added to the mayhem.

Finally, we made it to the end of the trail which splits off into different fingers. Each finger leads out to campsites right on the rocky shore of Lake Superior. It was everything I had expected, except for the 4-5 foot waves and 30+mph winds that were a bit of a surprise. We set up camp, behind a bit of tree to help block some of the wind but it did little to muffle the sound of a jet engine sounds of Lake Superior 20 feet from us.

We were able to get some wood together and get a fire going despite the rain and spray from the waves that didn’t want to let up. We settled in early that night and settled for a nice, albeit damp bed, and a movie downloaded to my GPS tablet.

Later the rain did let up enough that I was able to fry a little venison over the fire for a late night snack and enjoy a few cold beers before calling it a night.

 

UP Overland Adventure – Day 1

A trip five years in my mind, eight months of planning, spanning six days, including 4 Jeeps, two trailers, six people, and 1390 miles across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has finally come to fruition.

Technically day 1 started with the trek from Grand Blanc, Michigan, across the Mackinaw Bridge to my families cabin in Garden Corners, Michigan, but it was pretty boring and uneventful, other than the trip across the bridge and a bit on US-2 West, where we were able to watch a gorgeous sunset. The rest of the trip was in the dark.

On the Manistique/Marquette Route.

Day 1 started at 8:30 am, from Garden Corners, and heading back east 22 miles to Manistique, Michigan, where we gassed up and started on the Manistique/Marquette Route. This is a state trail and except for trying to drive and look at the beautiful scenery, wasn’t too difficult. It was a nice drive none the less. We followed the trail almost to the end (it turns to ATV only), and took a short 13-minute cruise out to see Miner’s Falls, which was

Miner’s Falls

pretty amazing to see in person. After a climb down and back up, our legs were burning; we decided to make some lunch before getting back on the trail.

We headed west towards Marquette where we made a quick stop at a CVS so one of our members could stop to refill his heart medication. (8 months of planning?). I realized we were a bit (read: a lot) behind schedule, so we ran some higher speed roads up to the northwest of Marquette before pavement faded away and we were on dirt roads.

One “road” ended up turning into a small trail, which started getting smaller and more overgrown, before becoming barely a track and all. This ended with me trying to cross a little wet area and buried the JKU up to the axle in a swamp. Knowing we were already behind, it added to my stress level a bit. It took some good pulling to get me out.

Stuck in the “road swamp.”
First night’s campsite.

After my recovery from the “road swamp,” we continued heading northwest to Big Eric’s Falls. From there, we took some dirt roads North to the mouth of the Huron River. We were lucky enough (we were running out of daylight), that half of the campsites there were empty and were able to park all four rigs, just a few steps off the sand. I have to say; this is probably one of the coolest campsites I have ever had. The best part…it doesn’t cost a dime! We set up camp, made some dinner, and ended the evening with a campfire on the beach, just before it started sprinkling.

 

 

A few more pictures from the first day