The South Shore

Living in Minnesota, we travel up to the north shore of Lake Superior fairly often. We get our fill of waterfalls, rocky shorelines and dense woods from our trips up there. But for some reason, we never went to the south shore of the lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. An opportunity presented itself on a return trip from Toronto, where a detour up through Sudbury Ontario and Sault Ste Marie Michigan was a nice change from our usual route through Chicago and Gary.

Ontario

On our way back from Toronto I wanted to stop at an Ontario Provincial Park, mostly just to say I’ve been there. Grundy Lake was along the route and had a few interesting trails. The landscape reminds me of northern Minnesota – small lakes, exposed bedrock and boreal forest. Great scenery. One could imagine you were in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Canoeing, Grundy Lake
Canoeing, Grundy Lake
Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was on my list also. We stopped for a half day and got a hint of what that park is like. The view from the shore is nice, but to experience the park, a tour boat or kayak is far better. We stuck to the shore and did a few miles of trails.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Just outside of Pictured Rocks we ran into by far the best display of trilliums I’ve ever seen. Acres of forest floor covered in white blossoms, right along the road, both sides of the road, and as far into the woods as you could see.

Quite the sight.

Trilliums, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

We had reasons to be back in Minnesota, and because we were staying in motels at over a hundred a night, we kept heading west until we were back home. But we figured we could come back with the campervan and stay a few nights sometime this summer. The camper would get us closer to the scenery, thirty dollar-a-night lodging, and the ability to eat good food.

Porcupine Mountains

After a bit of home-time, I had an itch to get out again, this time in the campervan. We’ve never camped in the U. P. and liked what we saw on our way back from Toronto, so a trip to Porcupine Mountains State Park seemed like a good way to spend a week. The park is roughly sixty-thousands acres of hills and woods along Lake Superior, with dozens of miles of trails and a couple of scenic drives. For backpackers, there are remote hike-in cabins and campsites.

Porcupine Mountains State Park.

They’re called mountains, but compared to the west they are more like speed bumps.

Lake Superior

I couldn’t drive along the shore of beautiful lake Lake Superior with stopping to photograph the lake.

Lake Superior vista, Upper Michigan

It was a bit foggy. 🙂

We scored a campsite directly on the lake shore one of the nights we were there. Nice view, and not one you can get from a motel room.

View from campsite 27, Porcupine Mountains State Park

It was nice to hear the waves washing up on the shore at night.

From growing up near Lake Michigan and I knew that the Great Lakes can have a dramatic impact on local weather. One can anticipate that the ice cold water of Lake Superior will cool the area near the shore on a hot day, but but one must also expect that the cold lake will make a cold day colder. We hit one day of cold rain where the lake made it colder, a day of 90F & high humidity where the lake didn’t provide any cooling, and a cold and wet day made worse by proximity to the lake. The lake didn’t help the weather at all.

Lake Superior shoreline, Upper Michigan

One thing we didn’t miss out on was the early summer mosquito, black fly, gnat, deer fly, house fly and horse fly season. Didn’t get lucky as far as the insect season goes. We pretty much had to either be in the wind or behind screens or we’d get annoyed and bitten by the bugs. I have one of those high-voltage bug wacker/zappers. Zapping the buzzing intruders was a nightly ritual.

Typical for the north woods this time of the season. Or most of the season, to be fair.

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