Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Frost, Rainbow and Falls

Holy buckets.  At this rate, winter is going to fly right by me!  Yeah, ask me about that in March.

I know it's not officially winter yet, but it sure is cold and frosty out there!  Here are a couple pictures I took on my hike this morning.

A frosty fall stump

Remember it a month ago?

Icicles over an icy shore

Town is really quiet right now.  My friend Gilly called me from the Mariner yesterday just because there were no customers!  Yes, it's that time of year.  The colorful leaves are mostly off the trees.  The Covered Stretch of 41 has that long, empty feeling of what is to come... snow!

But we've had some cool waves!

According to my camera, that happened Saturday, October 26th.  

The Saturday before, when I was out mountain biking, this rainbow came out, but I forgot to show you.

Whole rainbow from October 19th, 2013

I saw lots of people out shooting it that day.

Now here is a Typical Amanda story for you.  

I had never been to Hungarian Falls near Lake Linden, so on my way back from a trip to town, I decided I would go check it out.

Once I finally found the entrance, I walked down under the bridge that holds up Snowmobile Trail 3.  I got a picture underneath looking up because I thought you'd like it.  Then I scaled the side of this 45 degree hill through piles of leaves, over branches and around boulders.  "This can't be a trail," I thought to myself.  "No duh," the hill rolled its eyes.

But down to the creek I traversed.  Then I saw another cool bridge cement foundation thingy that I thought you would like.  I reached in my, um, unzipped pocket to grab my camera, well, uh, actually, Aaron's iphone that I borrowed without telling him.  And it was gone.

I almost puked right there.  How the heck was I going to find a small object whose front matched the dark, wet leaves and whose back matched the freshly fallen yellow leaves?

"Take a deep breath, Amanda.  Don't freak out.  Just go back and look for it the way you came down," I told myself.  As I looked back, I wondered, "how the heck DID I get down here?"

Long story short, I scoured that hillside for over two hours.  I called it with my phone 42 times.  No answer.  My fingers were white from brushing wet leaves.  My puppy was so hungry, he was eating bark and grass.  And finally, evening was closing in.

I had to leave.  I had to go home and tell Aaron that I lost his phone.  "I'll come back and look tomorrow," I promised.  I didn't even see any falls.

Long story short again, Aaron, Duce and I came back the next morning (luckily not much snow fell).  We looked for nearly an hour.  Then, there it was: tucked next to a rock under some leaves.  And since I just got a Life Proof case for it (my insurance policy, I told Aaron) it still worked.  Yes!!!

Now Aaron is an outdoorsman with a businessman mentality.  "Let's go!" he announced.  "I've got to get back to work."

"Shoot," I thought.  "I came to the falls twice and still haven't seen them."  I had no idea what to expect anyway.

We climbed back up to the bridge and found, well, the actual trail.  Aaron shook his head.  "Here's the trail."  Then guess what?!  We went up it!

Oh, we climbed and climbed, and got to the first falls.  Magnificent!  So tall and towering.  Then we made it to the second falls.  Awesome!  It fell into a great pool.  Then the third falls was a dam.  Not my favorite, but still serves a purpose.  Then the fourth falls which didn't strike me in a way that I could describe it to you.

I am going back in the spring.  Maybe even sooner.  That place is amazing.  And now I know how to get there.

I apologize that I have no pictures to show you from Hungarian Falls, but that phone was dead from being out in the cold all night.  If you would like to go there yourself, here is a link.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adventure Resumes!

How quickly I went from having the dilemma of not enough time to adventure, meaning I don't have much to share (or time to share it) to the opposite dilemma of too much footage on all the adventures I've been having, meaning I spend lots of time uploading and editing images.  Oh.  You don't care about that.  You just want to see some pictures!

Well, Saturday I got out on some shuttle runs.  Shuttles runs occur when the bike rider pays a fee to the Keweenaw Adventure Company, so the biker and their bike can be transported to the top of either Brockway Mountain Drive or the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge where they then get the thrill of the downhill without the pant of the climb.  Sound like cheating?  It is.  But then the biker gets to keep all their energy for conquering the obstacles instead of huffing up the mountains.

And on that Saturday, I rode down three of the trails I haven't ridden yet either because I was too chicken or time didn't permit: Daisy Dukes, The Overflow and Downtown.  A-ma-zing.  I rode more obstacles than I thought I would and only crashed a couple times!  Nothing major, just some bruising.

I did record my trip down The Overflow, but my camera kept drooping on my handlebar, and there is just too much footage of my feet!  You can find videos of that on youtube anyway -- from real riders!

And yesterday I got to paddle my kayak to Porter's Island!!!  Here is a picture from after I dragged her down the hill on a little dolly.

The Muktuk made it to the shore!

I can only imagine what people thought as this little thing in a wetsuit, lifevest and spray skirt chased the wheeled end of a 16 foot boat down the hill toward the Harbor Haus launch.  But that's just life, and I do goofy things a lot.

I sprinted to Porter's Island only to find that there really isn't much for landing areas on the south side.  I was nervous to go around to the north to park because the waves were tumbling on that side.  I paddled around until I found a spot.  Before I pulled in, I took this picture.

My ship and I looking toward our little town

Then I just hiked around the whole island counter-clockwise in my wetsuit and booties.  Good thing I didn't see anyone out there!  But here are some things I did see!

From the east end looking west

From the west end looking south toward town

I also had to take a few moments to watch the little wonders in the island.

Cool, hey?  And I was sober!

Also, if you can't wait for a weekly post, I did start a twitter account.  It's @writingdaharbor.  Once I figure out how to imbed it in this blog, you can stay updated without starting your own account!  See, I'm always thinking of you!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why People Drive so Slow

I did it.  I went south of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for my first time in about three weeks.  Man, am I glad I don't have to make that drive often.  I wouldn't have any hair left, my teeth would be ground to nubs, my fingers would be stuck in a white-knuckle curled position and I would excessively use the words my father told me never to say EVER.  

Why?  This story, excerpted from my book Little Slices of da Harbor, illustrates why I had to slam on the breaks multiple times while driving back home on the Covered Stretch the other day.

Leaf Peepers on “The Covered Stretch” -- By Yours Truly
(Reproduced with my permission)

Wife: Oh, Honey, look at those leaves! Have you ever seen a red color like that before?
Husband: Well, no, I --
Wife: Slow down! Let me get the camera ready.
Husband: But there’s a car right behind us.
Wife: Well, pull over then.
Husband: Look at this road. Where am I supposed to pull over?
Wife: I don’t know, just -- ugh. We missed it. Oh, my word! Look at that orange! Is that a maple?: I think so.
Wife: Well, slow down! I’m missing it!
Husband: But that car is right on my tail!
Wife: So find a spot to pull over.
Husband: Honey, look at this road! There is not place to --
Wife: There! On the left!
Husband: That’s the other side of the --
Wife: Pull! Pull! Stop!
Husband: Ahhh! Okay!
Wife: Whew. There. Nice job.
Husband: You mean nice job not getting us killed.
Wife: I suppose. Yeah, cuz this really isn’t the best spot to take pictures. Besides, that road sign is in the way. Let’s see what’s up ahead. Just go slow.

However, in their defense, this is what the drive looked like on Wednesday.

Color Report
Let that be all for the color report.  Brockway is rainbowing up nicely.  We had a gorgeous week for weather too.  If you weren't up here, then you'll just have to live vicariously (which is what I'm here for).  However, Mt. Bohemia is still offering their Fall Chair Lift rides this weekend.  There's still time to savor it!

Back to work for me... two nights until I'm freeeeeeeeeeeee!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Prime Color Time!

Well the weather certainly didn't cooperate for all the tourists this weekend.  I'm sure that packing for 50 - 60 degrees of fog, rain and high winds didn't make their suitcases feel loved.  But they came any way.  They came to mountain bike, ride Bohemia's chair lift and look at the colors.  The locals and I still shake our heads in amazement at all the traffic still in town.

Color Report
But the leaves are primo right now!  If you can capture colors through the mist and fog, you have it made.  Today my friends Hannah, Tiki and I hiked around the trails, so I could find some color for you.  Though Brockway Valley is still pretty green, here is a shot to show you Aetna Ridge by the Burma Road.  You have to look into the distance of this picture.

Colors behind Lake Manganese toward Aetna Ridge

It was a bit too gray and foggy for my GoPro to expose the colors justifiably.  But Hannah and I stared with dropped jaws by the lake.  Tiki, well, she didn't care because she's colorblind.  At least that's what I hear about dogs.

Come on up this week to see the rest of the colors.  As far as forecasts go, though I am not a believer in them, this next week should be like a dream vacation.  Colors, nice weather and still a chance to get your Harbor Haus dinner!  Don't wait any longer.

We saw quite the mushroom spectacle in our hike too.  They grew nearly half way around the trunk of this tree!

Tree-hugging mushrooms

I need to get out on a few more adventures before the snow flies.  I hope I can find the time to cross them all off my list.  After this next week, that won't be too hard as long as I manage my time well and stay focused on my goals.  Wish me luck, and you'll reap the benefits!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Is It Still August?

Please pardon the absence of pictures in this post, but it feels like August all over again – with the weather and the rush-around-with-your-head-chopped-off feeling.  October 13th (the day after the Harbor Haus closes) is my light at the end of the tunnel.

But here’s what doesn’t feel like August:

- Mushrooms are popping up all over and oozing their brilliant colors through the ground and old logs.
- The ponds and falls are finally starting to dry up.  Okay, well I guess that usually happens in August.
- The Isle Royale Queen IV is done with her ferry service for the year.  The last boat came back Monday... we danced out last cancan at the Harbor Haus.
- Mount Bohemia is offering chair lift rides this weekend!  Come on up, and look at the colors from up above!

Color report
Yesterday when one of the waitresses arrived at work, she said, “It was a gorgeous ride up today!”  What does that mean for you?  You might want to check the trees out!  I wish I could get out and take some pictures for you, but don't even think about asking right now.  Copper Harbor is still lacking in the color department, but you’ll miss the whole way up if you wait much longer.  I can’t say 41 is peaking right now, but it’s getting there, and after the gusts we had yesterday, the leaves won’t be able to hang on forever!

I am ashamed to say that I did this for the first time since I lived here.  “I don’t care about history,” was my excuse.  But I toured the grounds and buildings at Fort Wilkins in depth on Sunday, and I was blown away.  Their displays are well thought out.  I learned so much my head was swelling.  And the artifacts they display really take you back in time.  A couple of my favorites were the mine diagrams and the census from 1870.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.

On a history kick after the tour, a couple friends and I stopped at the Fort Store, and I found four out-of-print local history books bundled for $5!  What a steal!  The first one I’m reading is Mac Frimodig’s The Copper Harbor Stare … and Other Strange Things.  There’s even a story about the Brockway Hermit in there.  This book is a must-have treasure for any Harbor lover.  Get your soon because they are out of print!

I still hear the logging trucks cutting, slicing and hauling away the trees up by the Burma Road.  I think they started this last extraction two years ago.  Must be lots of trees left to cut down.  Careful if you drive around up there.  With the new logging roads, it’s easy to get lost, and those new roads are not on any maps.

Guess what.  It's October.  When I can feel October in my veins, I will truly celebrate.  For now I have to keep up with the grind.  The leaf peeper grind.  Hey, that could be a new dance!