Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Montreal Falls

Today Aaron and I hopped on the 4-wheeler and sped down the somewhat melted snowmobile trails to Fish Cove.  That is located 8 miles East of Lac La Belle on the southern shore of da Keweenaw.  From there we bushwhacked (even though we took the trail) West to destination Montreal Falls.  

The hike through the woods was really something.  We had to maneuver gingerly around fallen trees.  In some spots, more trees were horizontal than vertical!  I wanted to hike along the shore, but much of it was straight cliffs.  I pummeled the pebbles when I could, though.

I got to see some awesome landscapes that reminded me of Isle Royale: multi-foot crevasses in rock cliffs, boulder-top fields covered in gray and green lichen and pebble beaches.  Ah... Isle Royale, I get so nostalgic.  I also found tons of thimbleberry and bilberry bushes.  I sure am glad I know what they look like before they blossom, so I can scout them out early!

Through our treacherous hike, we kept thinking we heard the falls, only to come out onto shore with the rolling waves of Superior.  Big disappointment, right?  I know.

But soon enough we made it.  We noticed the current it pushed out long before we saw the falls.  Now, when I was out there last spring, I remember hiking right down the rocks in the falls, and even being able to cross the 40 foot falls on foot without getting wet (the last photo in the "Manganese River Walk" link is what it looked like then).  Not today, by gosh by golly.

Instead it looked like a gazillion gallon keg of Old Milwaukee Light had crashed from the sky and was surging down the rocks.  The "carbonation" was even making its own fizz in a mist up to ten feet above the water!  Foam rode on the tides below, and bubbles the size of my fist swam like groups of turtles in the waves.

The sound of it was not as deafening as I would have imagined.  It was more the sound of rushing water than a deep thundering -- like a dam.  It even reminded me of a dam back in my hometown.  But the energy from it was amazing.  If I would have tried to walk on the rocks I walked on last year, I would have no chance of living.  I couldn't even see those rocks!

We walked up the falls a bit, and I got down as close to the rapids as I could, to feel like a part of the action.  It was intense.  But so was the sun, and the beach at Fish Cove was calling my name.

Not being a fan of going-back-the-same-way-I-came, I decided to traverse some of that shoreline.  I did pretty good, really.  I mean, I was rock climbing -- clinging for dear life!  But then came the cliffs that only a trained professional with ropes and pulleys could have survived, so we climbed up a cleft in the rocks.

Then there it was... Fish Cove.  I swear it was 70 degrees in the sun on those warm, colorful, polished stones.  It had to be because we stripped into our scivvies and laid in the sunshine.  Oh, sweet glory of a Lake Superior Beach.  So intoxicating.  And it was slightly ironic because we were sunbathing next to a snow bank!  Got to love da Keweenaw!


  1. That is quite the hike Amanda, much more difficult than I had anticipated the time we headed out there with backpacks one summer while attending MTU. I definitely agree that it reminds you of the great Isle Royale. The river and falls were much smaller that day but I'd love to see it really moving in the spring like you did. Our only disappointment was that when we arrived after a long hard hike with all our camping gear someone had already taken the prime spot near the lake. It was still fun climbing up the falls and exploring such a great area. Thanks for bringing back the wonderful memories!

  2. You're welcome, Michael!

    I'm glad I could help you reminisce! I still can't believe the difference in Montreal Falls from this spring to last May. Almost unrecognizable!