Monday, September 5, 2011

The Porcupine Mountains

This blog acts on many different levels for me.  One is basic plant info.  The second part deals with travel.  A third of the posts deal with the progress/setbacks in the actual El Presidio gardens. The fourth speaks of the design on desert and other landscape ideas.  And finally, random elements, like current events in Tucson or lectures are added to keep things from getting mundane.  Some of you may have noticed that I've taken a break from point 3....the El Presidio Gardens.  The simple fact is that this year has been financially tight with the spring projects and with our historic winter freeze, the plants just don't look so amazing right now.  I'll be getting back to the garden soon as I restore the property with the finishing touches on the planters and begin by putting in garden art around the various garden areas.  For now, there is a lot of fun reporting to do.  I just received my blogger cards in the mail and it's official.  I'm a blogger:)  I'd like to begin with a chilly and fun story from the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Some of you college students, maybe from my alma mater at Stevens Point, may be thinking of an epic Lord of the Rings trek into the beautiful Porcupine Mountains.  One.  Good choice.  Two. Do it.  Three. Go before winter happens.  This story takes place in the early 90's before I turned into an old spanish Arizonan teacher. I was exposed to skinny dipping, girls who let their armpit hair grow out and the infamous bear creatures .  My naturalist friends took me for an unforgettable weekend trip to the Porcupine Mountains during the month of October when the fall season colored this magical pristine and PRIMARY forest with hues of reds, oranges, and yellows!
Pic courtesy of Jeffrey Foltice
Due to the extreme AND muddy trails, I did not bring my camera.  The pics today are used from the Porcupine Mountain website.  Pic credits are below the illustrations. PS.  Do bring your camera, but make sure you have a camera case as it may get very wet on this hike. Established in 1945, and then as wilderness in 1972, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a rare wilderness gem located in the northwoods of Michigan. One of the midwest's largest stand of old growth forest exists here just as it did before European settlement. The park received its name from the Ojibwa people when they referred to the mountains as "skag"(woodland porcupine). Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park checks in at 59,000 acres - a very large size for a midwest park. There are 20 miles of shoreline along massive Lake Superior, providing an enticing mix of woodland and water recreation. Excellent hiking trails cross the park, which is also home to wolves and the rare peregrine falcon. Truly one of the premiere natural attractions in the midwest.
Taken from
Prepare for an amazing journey on some incredibly beautiful trails.  You'll need to prepare well as it takes several days to hike through the area.  Why write about this place now?  Most college kids start preparing for this trip in August or early September because the trails can book up fast. I remember in college during a dinner conversation at Point that we needed to do a hike somewhere together as a team.  In Wisconsin, there is never a shortage of exploration because quite frankly, the Great Lakes region has been well preserved for many hundreds of years.  The Upper Pennisula of Michigan offers some breathtaking sights.  We took the long road trip up into the North where we started our trek in the misty and rainy forests of the U.P.  Everyone had their backpack on with camping gear galore, spiked boots for the slippery and often times muddy trails, and food supplies.  It is a rugged trip and not for the faint of heart.  I laugh thinking about this one incident where my friend Heidi sunk to her neck in mud.  Now that could have turned out deadly, but she's now a mother of 2 and quite alive.  Thankfully, we were there to pull her out of the mud.  I remember the suction was difficult and it took two of us to get her out.  We laughed about it afterwards.  What else could we do?:)  Here's some basic data....
Total Acreage: 59,000
Square miles: 92
Highest point: 1,958 feet (Summit Peak)
ADA accessible viewing area
Presque Isle River Corridor
2nd highest waterfall in Michigan
Drive-In campgrounds: 6
Hiking trails: 87 miles
Waterfalls: 60
Downhill ski runs: 15
Backcountry campsites: 63 sites
Backcountry cabins: 16
Forest cover: 95%
Designated wilderness: 40,808 acres
Lakes: 4
Park Manager
Porcupine Mountains State Park
412 5 Boundary Rd..
Ontonagon MI 49953
Phone: (906) 885-5275
FAX: (906) 885-5798
TDD: (906) 885-5278
Porcupine Mountain Website
Lake of the Clouds taken from

Plan ahead and early to schedule your hike.  It's similiar to purchasing a permit on Machu Picchu.  Only so many hikers are allowed on per day at each station of the trail.  We spent 3 nights there in tents.  Wildlife is all around you and can be dangerous as there are bear present.  Remember to pack food  1 mile away from your site and up in the trees.  An easy way to do this, if I remember correctly, was fill the food bag up and toss it up around a strong tree limb with a looooong rope.  Secure it and head back before nightfall to your campsite.

Why on Earth would you go here with all this danger?  If you prepare ahead of time, this trip will be a memorable lifetime experience and definitely a bonding moment for you, your friends, and family. The above map shows exactly where the park is located.  I'm kind of a practical joker and on this trip, I remember going to a couple of newbie hikers and scratching on the tents at night.  I nearly wet myself from holding in the laughter as everyone inside the tent freaked out.  It was quiet and then my scratch.  Scratch.  A muffled, "Did you hear that?" came out from one of the ladies.  Scratch. Scratch. Then panic sets in.  A quick escape allowed me to flee the scene for a quick burst of laughter inside my tent.  I've been known at other campgrounds, not here obviously with the threat of bear roaming around, to break up crackers around tents.  I did this with my siblings where only deer, chipmunks and racoon roamed the forests.  At midnight, I'd hear my little brothers freaking out. be a kid again.  If you feel bad for my younger siblings, I understand, but you need to know that it sucks being the oldest of 6.  But it does have some advantages:)

But again, why go?  Have you seen fall colors?  WOW!!  Best time to visit the Porkies is during the months of September and October.  It's rainy and cold on some parts of the trail, but it will take your breath away.  Whether you are a college student, photographer, or nature enthusiast, this is a highly recommended trip.  Don't hestitate if you hear some friends "thinking" about doing this hike.  You won't regret it.  Next summer, I plan on taking my camera along with Pat to the timeless Mackinac Island....another of Michigan's gems. If it's kind of familiar sounding, think back a couple of decades to the quiet sleeper hit of a movie known as "Somewhere in Time."  It'll be a historic trek back in time as we explore this cool little island.  Will I be able to bring Christopher Reeves back from the dead?  I need to warn him about that stupid horse accident that would slowly and eventually kill him. I swear I'll empty my pockets of any pennies or debit cards.  I mean.....this guy was Superman!!  If you haven't a clue about what I'm talking about, check out the movie.  Some call it a chick flick while others will call it a classic.  If you're into gardening, you'll love the coastline photography!  So your homework for tonight is to hike the Porcupine Mountains and watch "Somewhere in Time". Until tomorrow....   

1 comment:

Thanks for stopping by!