Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brockway Gets a Nose Job

For the past few mornings, I've been seeing this when I look up at the Nose of Brockway from town.

Notice the yellow at the top of Brockway Nose

Soon after, someone mentioned that the county is doing work up there.  Well, I had to know what was going on.  Is Brockway getting a nose job?  I took a ride up to the first lookout.  Sure enough.  Cosmetic surgery.

Barrels block any entrance to the work site

Some of the equipment on the nose

Looks like pillars are being erected

Molding and drying the pillars

The view of the new wall from the edge of the nose

How they locked the tires, so the tank doesn't roll away

Honestly, I still don't know exactly what is going on up there, but there is a wall being built.  It may be for safety.  It may be to enhance the view of the town below.  I'll let you know when I find out for sure, and I'll show you some pictures.

With her new facelift, I wonder if Brockway will go to Hollywood.  Nah, she's too down to earth to sell out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Escaping the Flies

It’s blackfly season.  And it’s in full swing.

But I know how to escape them.  So do you, if you have one of my black market F.A.Q. pamphlets about Copper Harbor.

The key is to keep moving.  I went on my first roller blade of the season today, and I forgot they existed until I got home and took my blades off at the bottom of the steps.  Oh, they were swarming me!  In my hair, on my neck, in my mouth.  Patooey!  They must love my sweaty goodness.  I grabbed my gear, though some if it was still on me, and ran up into the house.  There.  I escaped.

Today I also needed to burn some cardboard.  At first, while standing at my fire ring, they began to swarm.  So I lit my lighter and sent that cardboard up in flames.  Bye bye, blackfiles!

A couple days ago a friend and I were searching for morels in the woods. Morels I did not find, but the bugs found me!  Here’s where the mind game starts.  When forced to be among them, you repeat over and over what your main objective in the woods is.

I am looking for morels.  I am looking for morels. Oh, the blueberry bushes are blossoming!  I am looking for morels.  I am looking for morels.  Ooh, a fiddlehead.  Yum!  I am looking for morels.

Then the blackflies don’t seem so bad.  Soon enough (and especially because I found zero morels) the bug bites were becoming more apparent.  I bet you are wondering how I escaped that scene.  I ran out of the woods, hopped on my bike and pedaled away.  Whew!

But as a whole, the swarms have been on and off.  The wind really takes care of them, so thank you, Lake Superior!  Too much sun and hot makes them hide under cover, and too chilly of weather (like today) seems to keep them under cover.

I have no expectations.  I know some tricks.  But most of all, I know when to stay inside until it gets dark!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Isle Royale is for Lovers

I'm back from the Rock!  The weather was sunny and warm every day.  Here's what we did.

We had quite a few friends go over on the Queen IV with us, which helped make it a fun ride over (not that Lake Superior is boring).  But when we got to the island, all I could think was, Geez, I sure hope these people are all going somewhere else out here... it's our honeymoon!

Our couple of our friends canoed us across Tobin Harbor, so we could get an early start to the top of the Greenstone Ridge.  We started walking east along the Tobin shore, but that got a little dicey, so we went up a ridge on some nice smooth boulders.  Along the way we saw this.

Moose kill site

Sorry to be so blunt, but that's what it was!  I enjoyed my time hiking on Isle Royale in the sunshine.  Oh, I was just so glad we were there.

We made our way to Hidden Lake.  I love that still, little lake.  I took Aaron to the bridge there.  Then we walked around it (on a trail finally) up toward the Ridge. 

On the way we came across Monument Rock.

Monument Rock from afar

Then we found a little trail that shimmied up right next to it!

Monument Rock a little closer up

We proceeded to Lookout Louise.  It overlooks to the north.  You can see Canada from up there, but not with my camera.

Aaron looking over Louise

Now bear with me because I always had the camera, so you'll see a few shots of Mr. Rogers.

From there we hiked west along the Greenstone Ridge.  Now that was an experience.  When I looked to the left, I saw Lake Superior to infinity.  When I looked to the right, I saw Lake Superior to Canada. Wow.  Now that's the way to hike with her Majesty!

Aaron met one of his goals pretty quick.  He found a moose antler!

My one-horned Bullwinkle

Here is my favorite memory from this part of the trail: We were hiking through the most widespread thimbleberry patch ever.  That was all we could see!  Until we saw a black snake slither across the path.  And just at that moment, we heard chaos on the ridge below.  Little feet stomped all over.  I recognized the sound, but it took me a while to realize what it was -- lots of rabbits.  They were all squeaking and running around.  I don't know if they were playing or what, but they didn't sound scared, just playful.  Then as we took our next step forward, that snake slithered farther off the trail.  What a moment with the wildlife!

We even found morels on the way.  Mmmm, morels.  Couldn't wait to fry those babies up for an appetizer!

The clouds were thick, but we only felt a few sprinkles as we hiked.  And hiked.  Oh, finally!  Our junction to Lane Cove!  We had already hiked 7 miles, and our campsite was now 2.3 miles down... so I thought it was just down.

But it was down, down.  Like a hiker could tip over down, down.  We joked about how good the climb would feel in the morning.  Down and down we went.  But we saw this soon-to-be mama toad nestled in to lay her eggs.  She was huge!

The pregnant toad... big as Aaron's fist!

I began to wonder how we were going to make 2.3 miles going downhill.  Then I realized.  It was not all downhill.  Sorry honey.  Not on Isle Royale!  We hiked over more ridges and through marshes.  Over a ridge and through a marsh.  Over a ridge and through a marsh.  And I thought we were almost there.

Soon enough, we came to Lane Cove.  One other group was already down there, but there were 5 sites, so we picked a nice on out of the wind.  The sky was gray and the air was cold.  I ate way more dinner than I thought I could possibly eat.  And I was still hungry after!

In the morning a hare joined us for breakfast.  We noticed that they don't mind getting close to humans. Sweet little guy!

Then up and over and through we went, finding more morels along the way.  They must have grown overnight because I think we cleaned that trail pretty well on the way down.  Over and through, over and through.  But I got a nice picture of the marsh foliage.

Purple Skunk Cabbage and Yellow Marsh Marigold

As we were making the dreaded steep ascent -- Wait!  What's that?  A moose!  It ran farther up the ridge that we were traversing.  I took lots of pictures of it, but (whimper whimper) they did not turn out.  I couldn't find a moose in any of them!  Sorry.

But that was our first live Isle Royale Moose encounter.  A bull moose even.  Such a beast, he was.  That was nice to break up the climb!  Thank you, Mr. Moose!

Soon enough, we were back on the Ridge.  This little guy came to say hello.  

A hare standing on end

We hiked in a sunny day with a light breeze to keep us cool.  Some places of note along the way were Mount Franklin, with a great view to the north.  Also the Ojibway Tower which we partially climbed up to eat our lunch out of the blackflies.  It was cool and windy up there, but we didn't get eaten while we ate!

Our goal was to hike to West Chickenbone.  That would have made our trek about 13 miles for the day.  By some stroke of luck, my left boot blew out.  The rubber on the bottom gave way, and my toe sole busted right through.  "Well, it doesn't look like we're going to make it to Chickenbone if you have a busted boot," Aaron conceded.  The stars fell from the heavens.  We would instead take the long way to Daisy Farm -- 4 miles shorter than our projected route.  Praise the Lord!

We crossed two of the longest single plank bridges of the whole trip on the way there.  They kind of make your head spin after a while.  I'm surprised I didn't fall off, but I sure could have!

Usually Daisy Farm is one of the most crowded campgrounds (so I hear).  But we were there with only one other couple.  We took a couple little hikes: one east and one west.  Aaron was looking for morels as usual.  The funny part was, on our way back to the shelter for the night, we found a bunch along the trail back to our site.  Score!

That morning we sat in the sunshine on the warm beach.  Then headed to Three Mile, which was only 4.3 miles east.  We stopped a couple times to enjoy the lake scenery.  Oh, but my retarded boot was making hiking quite miserable, so I finally put on my camp shoes.  It was so much better.  Life was good.

We were the only people staying at Three Mile.  What a treat.  And we got there rather early, so now what do we do?  Go for a hike!  We hiked up toward Tobin Harbor.  Aaron was so funny; he made up a song about how much fun hiking is, and when he's done hiking, he likes to go for a hike.  What else could we do?  We decided that paddling trips are the way to go on the island.  But at least we got to see some spots we wouldn't normally cross if we were paddling.

I got a video of a long single plank bridge on the way to Tobin.  It wasn't the longest bridge we crossed, but decently comparable.  Check it out.

We just lazed around for most of the evening.  Nothing too exciting to report.

And on our last day, we took our time because we only had three miles to go, and the Queen IV hadn't even docked at Rock Harbor yet.  We did explore a little through Suzy's Cave.

Aaron in Suzy's Cave

For a while we sat in the sunshine along this picturesque shore.  This picture kind of sums up what I think of when I think of Isle Royale.

South shore on Isle Royale

We made it to Rock Harbor.  We sat in the sunshine and talked to some friends while we waited for the Queen IV to take us back to the mainland.  Two of the people we talked to were the couple that were at Daisy Farm the same night as us.  Turns out they got engaged that day.  Just another reason while Isle Royale is for lovers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I Did, What I Should Be Doing and What I Will Do

I really try not to get too personal in this blog, but last week, I was consumed by a very special event -- my wedding!  Since the ceremony was on the shore of Hunter's Point, and the reception was in the township park, it certainly relates as a wedding in da Harbor.

The rain held off all day for us.  Family and friends travelled from afar and neighbors travelled from across the street to share in the celebration of our love.  Here are some pictures that I found on facebook.  Sorry, I don't remember who took them all!

My papa walking me down the beach rock aisle

Making our way to the "altar"

Of course, Duce has to be a part of everything!

Yes!  I may kiss the groom!

So now I am Mrs. Rogers.  Not too bad, hey?

Well, I guess the only "bad" thing is that my adrenal glands are shot for the time being.  Today is the big excursion from Chassel to Phoenix on road bikes, Phoenix to Delaware running and Delaware to Copper Harbor walking.  Sound familiar?  This is the annual Keweenaw Path fundraiser for the Gundlach Shelter for women and children.

I was supposed to do the bike leg, but I can hardly dress myself let alone pedal 34 miles.  I truly am bummed to miss this event, but my heart goes out to all who are participating.  Now I will have to give a monetary contribution to support this worthy cause.  You can too!  Make your check payable to:

Gundlach Shelter Home
Calumet, MI 49913

And make a note that your donation is via the Keweenaw Path Fundraiser.  Or you can donate online with this link!  Don't be shy, domestic abuse is one of the most common crimes in Keweenaw County.  Thanks for your support!

Other than that, guess who else is back in town.  The bell buoy!  I first heard him on Thursday.  Welcome back bell buoy!  Nice to see and hear you again!

Gosh, lots of new life is popping up too.  Fiddleheads are delicious.  Forget-me-nots have bloomed.  I think I have seen leaves on every kind of berry bush (not that I pay attention).  Lots of raptors and migrating birds are coasting in the Brockway Valley.  And, if I have to admit it, I have seen a few swarms of blackflies. Here we go, people.  Get your bug nets out!

Now guess where I am going this weekend.  I'll give you a hint.  It's the only place I could love more than da Harbor.  You got it!  Isle Royale!  My husband (Ha!  Husband!) and I are cruising there for the weekend to hike parts of the north shore.  Oh, I am so excited to be there again.  I'm sure I'll have some great pictures and stories for you after that!

Well thanks for making it to the bottom of this lengthy (and somewhat mushy) post.  Hoo, you and me both!  Now I need a nap!