Saturday - 15 July 2017
Moving West to the Keweenaw Peninsula
When we awoke we finally saw something we had been in sore need of - sunshine. Too bad it appeared on the day we were leaving. But leave we must as we have many miles to go before the day is done.
After packing up all our stuff we pulled out of the Les Cheneaux Motel in Cedarville at 8:30. Next stop: the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Betsy and I have been up this way a couple of times before and both times we stayed at the Shoreline Resort in Eagle Harbor.
As you can see from the trip time, we put in a long day considering we never left the state.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
The first leg of our trip: SR 134 to SR 123 via backwoods Forest Service Roads. The roads were generally good although some were a bit muddy and rough.
The rest of our route would be on all primary highways.
As you can see, the weather was finally going our way.
We did not stop until we got to L'Anse ("lance") at the base of Keweenaw Bay. Here we picked up some groceries and then took a look around at their water front park.
In French, L'Anse translates as "the cove" as a reference to its location on Keweenaw Bay, at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula. French explorers sighted this area in the 17th century. They later established a Jesuit mission there and a fur trading post. The village grew up around it.
The village is located within the L'Anse Indian Reservation, the base of the federally recognized Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, part of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwa (Chippewa) people.
Apparently this fellow saw the same picture I did.
We drove through 7 hours of glorious sunshine but by the time we got to Eagle Harbor it was heavy clouds again.
Fortunately the clouds started to break up around 5:30 and the skies cleared.
We had a nice Happy Hour on the beach and then around 6:00 we walked over to the Eagle Harbor Inn for a nice dinner of salad, White fish and veggies.
After dinner we spent a bit more time on the beach enjoying the now calm waters of Eagle Harbor.
Sunday - 16 July 2017
Keweenaw Peninsula: Eagle Harbor
At 5:30 the sunrise woke me up. I stepped out to take a few snaps. It was a chilly 49 degrees but nice and calm.
Soon we will be getting ready for a fab hike, one we have taken twice before: the climb up to Mount Baldy.
Sunday - 16 July 2017
Hiking to the Summit of Mount Baldy.
Here we are at the new sign at the new parking area for Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve at Mt. Baldy where we will hike today. The old parking area was up a sand road several hundred feet. That old road section is now part of the trail.
Betsy and I have hiked this trail twice before, once in 2010 and again in 2013. On neither of those times did we see one other person on the trail. Today would be different.
Here is a little bit of info about the Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve at Mt. Baldy
Mt. Baldy is the largest and least disturbed of only a handful of balds remaining in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Although also known as Lookout Mountain, Mount Baldy earned its name because wind has clearly shaped this bald community with stunted, wind-contorted conifers at its highest elevation.
Towering 730 feet above Lake Superior in northern Keweenaw County near Eagle Harbor and Lake Bailey, the mountain offers spectacular panoramic views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula. The preserve features a craggy, mile long ridge top that harbors a “northern bald” community, containing several nearly treeless openings. Northern balds are restricted to large escarpments of volcanic bedrock ridges and are characterized by sparse vegetation, areas of exposed bedrock, and thin, slightly acidic soils.
While bedrock balds are common in the Appalachians and adjacent Canada and New England, Mt. Baldy is the least disturbed example of only a handful of known occurrences of a northern bald natural community in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Source: © 2017 The Nature Conservancy
The first section of the old road bed now turned trail is up hill and deep sand.
The trail then levels out a bit and is now solid based and easy to walk. As you can see there were lots of Ox-Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare)in bloom.
One of the reasons I like to put up these trip reports is because the reserarch I do for them is always a learing experience.
And guess what I just learned? Ox-Eye Daisy was introduced from Europe! All these years I just assumed it was a native plant because it was so widespread. However, thinking about it now, that should have been the tip off it was probably not native. Generally, when I see a plant that is much more abundant than those growing around it I immediately think: "That must be a non native". Of course this does not always hold true, but if often does.
Habitats include mesic to dry prairies (including old cemetery prairies), sand prairies, weedy meadows in wooded areas, vacant lots, areas along roads and railroads, landfills, pastures, and waste areas. This plant is usually found in degraded areas, but it also persists in higher quality habitats. The Ox-Eye Daisy is often grown in flower gardens, from which it may escape. Sometimes the rhizomes survive earth-moving operations, thereby establishing colonies of plants in new areas.
These new Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) stump sprouts added a splash of color to the lush, trailside greenery.
There is only one stream crossing on this hike and here we are. The last two times we were here we were able to rock hop across. This time the water was slightly higher and it was a bit trickier to keep our feet dry. (No, Becky - we did not skinny dip here!)
Here is something I was not happy to see. If I am correct in my ID this is Autumn olive Elaeagnus umbellata and is an invasive shrub introduced from Asia. I have seen 100s of acres of this plant where it was the only woody plant growing.
An Asian species, planted for ornament or wildlife habitat and too freely escaping to roadsides, forests, fields, filled land, gravel pits, and almost anywhere, even though not collected in the state until 1939 (Kalamazoo Co.). Thoroughly established as a terrible weed in much of southern Michigan, and still rapidly spreading in both dry and wet habitats.
According to the location map at University of Michigan Herbarium Online, Elaeagnus umbellata has not been reported from Keweenaw County where the Mount Baldy trail is located.
This barricade is where the trail turns into a nice tree canopied foot path. It is also the former location of a sign similar to the one at the new trailhead.
Here is a plant I seldom see and it has been a long time since I have come across it. It is called Pine drops (Pterospora andromedea). These plants were newly emerging. The photo below shows them fully emerged.
These plants live in a parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi which you can read about below.
Interestingly Pterospora is in the Blueberry family, the Ericaceae. Flowering plants are taxonomically classed by their floral parts and these plants have flowers typical of the those in the Ericaceae. This group also includes Rhododendrons. Pretty cool.
Pterospora, commonly known as pinedrops, wooodland pinedrops, Albany beechdrops, or giant bird's nest is a North American genus in the subfamily Monotropoidiae of the blueberry family, and includes only the species Pterospora andromedea. It grows in coniferous or mixed forests. It is widespread across much of Canada as well as the western and northeastern United States to and northern Mexico (Sonora, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León). Along with Monotropa it is one of the more frequently encountered members of the Monotropoidiae.
The genus name is derived from the morphology of the seeds which have narrow flaps of tissue on the side and therefore appear winged: ptero (Gr.) = winged, spora (Gr.) = seed. The specific name andromedea derives from the resemblance of the flowers to those of another genus in the Ericaceae, Andromeda.
Parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi
Like all members of the Monotriopoidiae (see Monotropa), Pterospora andromedea lacks chlorophyll (trace amounts have been identified, but not enough to provide energy for the plant or to color it). Plants exist for most of their life as a mass of brittle, but fleshy, roots. They live in a parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, in which plants derive all their carbon from their associated fungus, but the relationship is not yet well understood. The term for this kind of symbiosis is mycoheterotrophy.
This section of the trail is dedicated to Nicole Louise Bloom who met her untimely death at the tender age of 23.
This is one of our favorite plants: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi! We love saying that name. It just rolls right off the tongue.
The common name is Bearberry. And like the odd looking Pine drops discussed above, it too is in the Ericaceae family.
Its specific name uva-ursi means "grape of the bear" in Latin (uva ursi), just like what the generic epithet Arctostaphylos means in Greek ("bear-grape").
The distribution of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is circumpolar, and it is widespread in northern latitudes, but confined to high altitudes further south.
When we broke out into the sunny area there were lots of plants in flower. However, they were mostly non native such as Oxeye daisy, hawkweed and clover.
We have reached the summit! The three mile hike to the top passed by all too quickly. In this photo you can see Eagle Harbor where we are staying. All that water is called Lake Superior.
One of the islands can be seen here.
Yet another plant in the Ericaceae family - yummy blueberries.
We both picked as much as we wanted to eat - and then picked more!
Believe it or not the plant with the narrow, elongate leaves is a Rhododendron - Labrador tea (Rhododendron tomentosum) which of course is also in the Ericaceae family. Once upon a time Betsy and I saw this Rhody of the north in full bloom in the Big Bog area of northern Minnesota. Big Bog is a 500-square-mile peat bog, the largest in the lower 48 states.
Another look at Eagle Harbor and the lovely Lake Superior.
Seen here is Lake Bailey to the north of Eagle Harbor.
The darker green line to the right is a Thuja swamp. This is looking to the east.
A vast, dense forest as far as the eye can see.
I mentioned earlier the previous two times we hiked this trail we saw not one other soul. When we got to the summit this time there were about 10 people already there, and more hikers arrived as we sat and ate our lunch. On our way back down the mountain there was a steady stream of people heading to the summit.
Here is a little cutie that was in bloom up on top. This is Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria). It too is a non native.
Dianthus armeria (Deptford Pink or Grass Pink) is a species of Dianthus ("pink") native to most of Europe, from Portugal north to southern Scotland and southern Finland, and east to Ukraine and the Caucasus. It is also found in North America.
It will grow in the worst, leached out soils (up to 12" tall), although it will grow taller in good soil with adequate water. D. Armeria is not native to the USA, but it does well in the wild without being dominant, in the temperate areas. The blooms close up in the afternoon.
There was a lot of color up on Mount Baldy.
This is the last shot on our hike: a Tiger Swallowtail on a Hawkweed flower.
When we got back the water looked so inviting Betsy decided to go out for a paddle.
While Betsy was out I prepped things for dinner by browning some ground sirloin and sauteing some green peppers and red onions. This was added to some jarred spaghetti sauce and along with a green salad was to be our supper.
I then started the next Trog and pretty soon it was Happy Hour.
There were two folks sitting out enjoying the sun. They were from Ottawa and were on their way to Leadville Colorado. We chatted with them until it was our 8:30 bed time. They stayed up past midnight enjoying a campfire on the beach.
And that was the end of our day.
Our first trip to Estivant Pines was in 2010. On that hike it was cloudy and cool and we saw not a soul - one of the advantages of visiting the area in mid-June which is before the season. On this visit we saw a lot of people on the trail including four loud mouths who finally stopped for water and we passed them up and left their prattle behind.
Click on the pic to read.
Below is a good account of how this place came to be in the public domain. Betsy graciously agreed to transcribe from a photo I took of the sign.
Located three miles south of copper Harbor near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula lies a 500 acre stand of old growth eastern white pine (Pinus Strobus) growing in a biologically diverse mixture of northern hardwoods and boreal species.
This wilderness tract was named for a Frenchman, Edouard Estivant, who purchased it in the 1870s. The track was sold to the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company in 1947. In 1968, the mining company was purchased by Univeral Oil Products.
Almost Lost the Pines
They started logging the old growth pine and maple in 1970. Local people protested the cutting of the big trees, but it required the combined efforts of a local Keweenaw committee and the Michigan Nature Association to negotiate a stop to the cutting. Three years later, this classic environmental campaign accomplished its goal of saving the pines and establishing a wilderness sanctuary.
The Michigan Nature Association purchased two hundred acres with contributions raised throughout the midwest. The sanctuary has become a popular spot for visitors and residents.
Another Near Miss
In 1987 a logger cutting along the north boundary of the sanctuary trespassed onto the wilderness tract and cut 24 large pine, maple and birch. Property owners on another adjacent stand of old growth pine began preparations for cutting. Again the local pines committee approached the owner and immediately began a fund drive to raise money through the Michigan Nature Association to purchase this additional old growth acreage.
More Acreage Added to the Sanctuary
One year later 177 acres were purchased including a 97.5 acre buffer zone around two sides of the sanctuary. An endowment was established for yearly maintenace. The road into the sanctuary was improved, toilet facilities installed, trails improved and signs erected.
And Still More
In 2004, an agreement to purchase an additional 128 acres was signed, bringing the sanctuary total to nearly 500 acres. In order to complete the purchase of the most recent acquisions, the MNA must soon raise $93,000.
What You Can Do
The Michigan Nature Association is a private non-profit organization accomplishing great things with volunteer and member contributions of all kinds. We appreciate your contribution to:
Michigan Nature Association
326 E. Grand River Ave.
Williamston MI 48895
Or inquire about membership at:
Source: [email protected]
One of my favorite signs to see at trails. "No Dogs" is another one of my favorites.
Oooops!! It looks like this Mt Biker missed the "No Bikes" sign. Or more likely it was just ignored.
There are not only big White Pine on the preserve but some mighty fine Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis).
This nice stand of Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) was in a wet low spot below one of the boardwalks.
It was at this point we heard the call of the Black-throated blue warbler, a song we seldom hear.
Here are a few of the large White pine we saw on our leisurely 2 mile stroll.
This network of support roots helps keep these giants standing. But in spite of that we noticed a number of downed trees which we did not remember on our 2010 visit.
After our walk in the Pines we drove back down the hill towards Copper Harbor. There were a couple of signs for trails we decided to check out.
This style of signage is used through out the Keweenaw Peninsula. Very classy and old fashioned looking.
This is the upper section of Manganese Falls. The majority of the run is below in a deeply cut gash in the stone.
There was also a roadside sign for the "Point Trail". We decided to walk it for a few miles.
There are about 100 miles of trails on Brockway Mountain which the township of Copper Harbor owns. They are promoted as Mt Bike trails but are fine for hiking as well. Here is a pretty fancy sign for one of the trail sponsors.
One of the few pictures I took on the Point trail. I did not recognize this shrub. Do you?
When we got off the trail we decided to take the scenic Brockway Mountain Drive back to Eagle Harbor.
Brockway Mountain Drive is an 8.883-mile (14.296 km) scenic roadway just west of Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the United States. Drivers can access the road from state highway M-26 on either end near Eagle Harbor to the west or Copper Harbor to the east in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The drive runs along the ridge of Brockway Mountain on the Keweenaw Fault and climbs to 1,320 feet (402 m) above sea level, 720 feet (220 m) above the surface of Lake Superior. Several viewpoints along the route allow for panoramas of Copper Harbor, Lake Superior, and undeveloped woodland. On a clear day, Isle Royale is visible approximately 50 miles (80 km) in distance from the top of the mountain.
Brockway Mountain was named for Daniel D. Brockway, one of the pioneer residents of the area. The road was constructed by the county road commission with funding through Depression-era work programs in 1933. It was briefly used as a connection for the parallel state highway after it opened. Since it opened, Brockway Mountain Drive has been recognized nationally and locally in several media outlets for its picturesque qualities, usually in profiles of Keweenaw County, the Upper Peninsula or other scenic drives.
There area many nice views from the pullouts along the Brockway Mountain Drive. They were reminiscent of the views we had on our hike up to Mount Baldy.
These large, heavy signs were flappin' in the wind like pieces of paper so Betsy steadied them while I snapped the pictures.
Click on the pic to read.
Timeline of Michigan Copper Mining Prehistory to 1850
7,000 years ago
The earliest known metalworking in North America begins when Native peoples start mining copper on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Digging pits and using heavy stones to break waste rock away from copper masses, they fashion bracelets, beads, tools, fishhooks and other items for trade. Objects made of Keweenaw copper have been found in archeological sites across the continent.
Alexander Henry makes the first English attempt to mine copper on the Keweenaw Peninsula near the Ontonagon River. At the time, the nearest English settlement is nearly 300 miles away at Sault Saint Marie and the region is completely undeveloped and mostly unmapped. Poor planning cripples Henry's adventurous spirit, and in the spring of 1772 his mine collapses after producing little copper.
Click on the above link to read the rest of the timeline.
Our last view of the mighty Lake Superior before we headed down off the mountain.
When we got back, the beach was warm and sun drenched - perfect for our Happy Hour.
We got out the travel info and talked about what hikes we would like to take over the next several days.
We also had an interesting conversation about the theory of Mindfulness. I still don't get it.
With the water temp in the 50s, all we could think about was getting back into that sun!
And that was the last shot of the day. Tomorrow we move on south to the Porkies. I did get up early again to catch our last sunrise over Eagle Harbor.
Mike and Betsy