Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore ~ #3

Hooray!  65 and sunny – ideal for the Pictured Rocks Cruise.  This boat was to take us on much of the same shoreline that we had seen from our hike earlier in the week.  The perspective from the water made for some interesting conversation.

Pictured Rocks is one of four National Lakeshores in the U.S. and is also the largest and the first established, on October 15, 1966.  We could potentially see all four during our visit through the midwest.  We have already crossed two off the list, Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks and plan to see a third, Sleeping Bear Dunes, also in Michigan.  The fourth would be Indiana Dunes.

Some of the oldest exposed sandstone is at Pictured Rocks.  The vegetation set against this pinkish-gray Jacobsville sandstone is striking.  In this part of the UP, storms typically come from the northwest.  A very large island across the channel from Pictured Rocks, Grand Island, takes the brunt of these storms, which helps to protect this vegetation.

Approximately 20 years ago, Terry took his sons to the UP on a camping trip.  We were looking at pictures he took during that time, one in particular, trying to determine which rock formation it was.  We both thought it looked like Miners Castle, with one noticeable difference between his 20-year-old shot and our present day photo.  Look at the two photos below and see if you can tell the difference.

Miners Castle - 20 Years Ago
Miners Castle - Present Day

The reason we were originally uncertain that this was the same rock formation is that the photo from 20 years ago reflects two turrets on its top and present day photos show only one.  We learned during the cruise that a turret fell off of Miners Castle on April 12, 2006.   This sandstone, as we evidenced all along the coast, is unstable.  From the trail that we walked earlier in the week, many postings warned hikers of the danger in standing too close to the edge.

Note the vertical crack in the sandstone, the large boulders lying in the water below, and the kayakers coming in for a closer look.

The remainder of this post will be more picture than prose as I cannot begin to describe the beauty in the rocks as well as they can speak for themselves.

Minerals Leeching from Sandstone against Stunning Turquoise Waters
Caves of Many Colors

We walked right over this rock formation when we hiked the Chapel Basin trail near Mosquito Beach.

Lover's Leap

At the base of Lover’s Leap, the water is only two feet deep so unless you are despondent due to an unrequited love, you would not want to be hurling yourself from the top of this rock.  From the trail we originally thought this rock formation was Grand Portal as it is so spectacular.

This rock collapse took place on Thursday and we took our hike of this section of Pictured Rocks on Wednesday.  The trail is right above where the collapse took place.

Grand Portal

Grand Portal is the highest point in the park, standing proud at 207 feet.

Chapel Cave

While hiking the Chapel Basin trail, we had peered down into the cave but never imagined that our tour boat would be sitting in this very spot!

Chapel Rock

The sandstone supporting the root system for the tree atop Chapel Rock collapsed approximately 40 years ago.  It could be said that Chapel Rock is now an island with its lifeline attached to the mainland.

Spray Falls
East Channel Lighthouse

The East Channel Lighthouse can only be viewed from the water, as it is now on private land on Grand Island.  It was built in 1867 and its kerosene lamp was extinguished for the last time in 1907.

We thoroughly enjoyed the day and believe that this cruise is a must if you find yourself in the Pictured Rocks area.  We are sad to leave this beautiful piece of the Upper Peninsula but look forward to the next leg of our journey.

Our last night’s sunset in the Munising Tourist Park.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ~ #3

There are a total of six lighthouses placed in strategic points among the Apostle Islands. While here we were able to take a ferry to Raspberry Island and tour their newly renovated lighthouse.

Raspberry Island sits 1.5 miles from the mainland and is 1/2 mile in width at its widest, making it one of the smallest of the Apostle Islands.  It was judged to be the perfect location for the second lighthouse.  Sitting on a bluff at the southwest point of the island, this lighthouse served double duty by showing the way to westbound ships passing Bayfield and directing eastbound ships between Bear and York Islands and into the channel around the mainland to Bayfield.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse cost $6,000 to build and its lantern was first lit in 1863. The current standing lighthouse was completed in 1906.  The light of its lantern (5th order fresnel) can be seen for 10 miles and it flashes once every 60 seconds.  W learned that each lighthouse lantern flashes at a different interval so sailors know which lighthouse they are looking at.

A 3/4 mile trek takes you down to the beach.  Looking from any direction you can see islands dotting the channel.   We are still astounded at just how clear the water is, unlike many other lakes we have encountered.

What Terry and I most wanted to see were the sea caves.  Water is such a powerful force and what the waves have done to the sandstone shoreline, both the thawing and freezing action over centuries, is amazing!  Probably the best way to see these is to go with an outfitter or use your own sea kayak and get up close and personal.  This can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, particularly during specific times of the year.  We were approaching the end of the season for sea kayaking so we decided to take a trail off of the mainland to get a bird’s-eye view instead.  We have been told that some of the best sea caves of the Great Lakes are located on the shorelines of the Apostle Islands.

We were pleased to have another couple join us for our hike, a couple we met while Terry was attempting to maneuver the rig into our site.  They are from Iowa and have been full-timing for the 1.5 years.  We were able to glean a great deal of information from them that will be helpful to us and all had a chance to laugh at some of the goofy things we have both done while on this journey.  We are thoroughly enjoying their company and feel we have developed a new friendship.

Janie & John

Probably the most photographed and the most impressive sea caves are those on Devil’s Island and Sand Island, but those we were able to see from the mainland were dramatic as well.

Kayakers Investigating Sea Caves
The Power of Water
Sandstone and Verdant Forest
Me & Janie Enjoying our Hike

From here we are headed to Houghton, Michigan and are pleased that John and Janie were planning a trip there as well.  We are looking forward to creating a few more memories together.