Labor Day 2016: Pictured Rocks

We sent summer off with a bang. A homerun of a weekend, the kind that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Dave-man and I have been wanting to get back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since we came back after our trip up there in 2012 before we were a couple. Fun fact: I fell for Dave on that trip. (read the our full love story)

We finally made it up 3 years later and it was well worth the wait, though I really hope it won’t be that long until our next trip. The worst part of the trip was the fact that we only had 3 days to spend up there and with a long car drive up and back our time up there was more like 2.5 days.

Friday evening right after work we met up with some friends and drove 5 hours to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, arriving at our campsite right before midnight. First thing we did was walk to the beach. If you have ever been in a place where zero man-made lights are visible, you know how awe-inspiring the stars and milky way are. We decided right then and there that we were going to sleep on the beach. With a tarp and our sleeping bags, all six of us slept side by side right on the shore of Lake Superior. I woke up a couple times during the night and just listened to the waves and looked up at the stars. It was an experience that everyone should try at least once.

On Saturday we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious breakfast. (I have a theory that coffee tastes the best when it’s drunk outdoors after spending the night in a sleeping bag.) By late morning we hit the trails and hiked all day (somewhere around 10 miles) along the shore of Pictured Rocks. It was challenging at times, but the views were so worth it. We found a waterfall to swim in (on my insta) and generally took our time to really enjoy the scenery and gorgeous weather.

Sunday was the best day by far. I didn’t think we could top the beauty of the day before, but somehow we did. In the morning we visited some waterfalls that included a place where we were able to stand behind the spray. so cool. It was a scene straight out of a fairy tale book.

However, the main event of the day was the boat we rented for the afternoon. I had never seen the Rocks from below. And so I didn’t know what I’d been missing out all these years. We rented a pontoon and loaded it up with snack and drinks. The 5 hours we spent on the water could not have been more packed with crazy amazing experiences. The views and landscape would have been breathtaking enough, but then we would jump in the warm (for Lake Superior) water and clamber onto and into the rocks. I’m running out of words to describe what the cliffs are like — they inspire such wonder and awe.

At one point we stood underneath a 70 foot waterfall singing a Michigan anthem we made up on the spot. As we sang with all the exuberance of being alive we looked up to see a bald eagle watching us from a perch on top of the cliff. (hashtag puremichigan.)

We stared our fears down by jumping off a 60 foot cliff near one of the beaches. And at one point we found a crack in a cave leading out to the main lake and swam through it. Give me a day like that an amusement park or a city anytime. As we headed back to our dock, the sun was setting and the light on everything was spectacular. We were filled with an intense joy to be alive.
Monday dawned on a wet camp take down. It had thunder-stormed all night, so we were all a big soggy when we pulled outof our campsite. We finished off the weekend with a visit to the mouth of the Two-Hearted River and Crisp Point Lighthouse.Everything was misty and mysterious. It was beautiful and kinda creepy. When I’m that far north there is a sense that nature isn’t tame. I feel how enormous and unpredictable the forest and lake are especially when the weather isn’t sunny. It seemed appropriate that the weather should be a bit more subdued as we headed south. We were sad the adventure was over, but so grateful for the memories.