Inger and Jeff Latreille
~Friday, July 23, 2021~
Before embarking on a few hikes today, we thought we’d learn a little more about this part of the U.P. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness also known as the “porkies' ' is 60,000 acres and was established in 1945. The Porcupine Mountains themselves arise abruptly from Lake Superior to form a 12-mile escarpment. These mountains, at 1.1 billion years old, are some of the oldest in the world. It is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest, and is the state’s only designated wilderness area. The forests, from what we’ve seen so far, are teeming with hemlock, pine, sugar maple and yellow birch forests. With over 90 miles of hiking trails, we’re really looking forward to exploring some of them to see for ourselves what this place is all about.
One of the things we learned today is that this wilderness area is all about the waterfalls. There are over 70. Today’s hike in the Presque Isle region took us to the Presque Isle River Waterfalls Loop, first via the East River Trail. We simply got on the trailhead right from our campground. Pretty convenient! About a 2-mile trek, and very well marked with their blue trail markers, the route meanders through gorgeous forests with some of the trees over 4 centuries old and are part of the largest remaining old growth hardwood and hemlock forest in the midwest. Continuing our trail alongside the river, we were met with an occasional series of wooden stairs and walkways
leading you to each major waterfall: Nawadaha Falls, Manido Falls, and Manabezho Falls. And there are signs everywhere warning visitors of the dangers of trying to wade or jump in these waters. We took Sadie
down to a calm section where she could wade and cool off a bit. Then we crossed the river to take the West River Trail back. It was pretty cool to be on the opposite side of the river to get a different perspective of the Falls. We ended up having a nice lunch right on the river before continuing on the next 2 miles to get back. Along the way, we saw a sign for the Lake Superior Trail which we had talked about doing as well, so we took it. But about a ½ mile in, moving away from the river, we decided it was not worth the trip today, and it wasn’t much of a nice trail anyway. There’s another route we can take another day. So we got back on the West River Trail, crossing over a beautiful suspension bridge at the mouth of the river. By the end, we were soaking in sweat with the humid 80-degree weather. But as you all know, a shower sometimes doesn’t even help, as you’re right back to sweating within minutes.
Before we got to our campsite, we ended up taking a little detour to a small beach right below our campground. About 80 steps down, it became apparent that our entire campground is on a steep cliff. I guess I didn’t think we were that high above the lake. Unfortunately, our visit was short-lived where out of nowhere we were attacked by biting flies. I’d heard of these annoying insects but had heard they’d be gone by June. False rumor I suppose. The one I felt sorry for the most was Sadie since she seemed to attract them more than any of us. We thought by making our quick exit that we’d get some relief but it appeared they were following us. What the heck. We didn’t have an issue yesterday. I guess they’ve officially arrived in the Porcupine Wilderness. Sadly, Sadie had to wait for the flies to go to bed, around 9:30 before she could join us outside.
Earlier in the evening, it was my turn to cook though not the best planning with no options for A/C, but I proceeded to go to town anyway, making my Aunt Jean’s recipe of homemade enchiladas. Having the oven and stove on didn’t help the situation where indoor temperatures got to 85 degrees. I think another shower’s in order. 2 hours later, we were eating like normal humans, before dark. And I must say, my enchiladas were worth every bit of heat I endured.
While we were about to go in and do dishes, a lovely lady from Colorado, Cindy, stopped to ask about our Lance trailer. Her husband Jim arrived soon after. Apparently between the two, she does the research and planning and he does the repairs. You could tell she knew what she was talking about. Even though I was a bit hesitant to “show them around” since it looked like a bomb went off in our kitchen, we invited them into our trailer anyway. They currently have a 2012 24’ travel trailer (forgot the brand), but are hoping to step up their size when they hit the road in a few years for more full-time travels. We must have talked for over an hour, and invited them back over for a campfire after our dishes were done. It was nice they took us up on our offer as we really enjoyed getting to know them. Hopefully we stay in touch since we exchanged information. I think between us and a few of our neighbors, and maybe a little rain, we didn’t shut the campground down until midnight. Jeff and I always like a good thunderstorm, though the rumbling sounded pretty distant. But, we did enjoy the few good boomers that lulled us to sleep.