And we’re back to Ye Olde UP, spending a day in lovely Munising and its environs, a word I use because I feel fancy.
Oh, but first: Coffee Adventures Continue. Steve makes coffee with our adorable new kettle and the aeropress. He’s happy with his, but mine is not cutting it for me. I try the hotel pod coffee maker, which cuts it even less. I make a smoothie, picking through the spinach, which understandably is not all that sparky. My picking is therefore a bit laborious.
Despite this unauspicious start, we hit the trail in fairly fine fettle.
Outside Munising: Au Sable Point/Log Slide
I never cease to marvel at Steve’s extraordinary abilities in finding his way sans GPS. There is massive construction all through Munising, yet he knows exactly where to go. I mean, granted, there aren’t that many choices. It’s the fact that he’s so unruffled by stuff that gets me all tense and cranky behind the wheel that amazes me.
The hike we’ve chosen from our guidebook is called Au Sable Point/Log Slide. Nothing like a sexy French name coupled with a moniker that is the opposite of sexy. I imagine the namer: “This point shall be christened in honor of the dark, enigmatic creature who brings luxurious coats to mind. Oh, and at the end, there’s a Log Slide.”
Should you choose to hike during a pandemic, you can, mostly, socially distance with a fair amount of ease—at least, my assessment at this point in our week-long trip. As our week stretches on, we see a lower mask to unmask ratio. But I’m going to say we’re still, at this point, at about a 60% mask rate.
The other thing is that you can deliberately choose places that probably aren’t that crowded even when times are pandemic-free.
So crowds are low, but the parking lot at the beginning of our hike is still pretty full of cars. Not so many people, which is good. As we see people on the hike, we take turns stepping off the path so that either we or they can get by, and we mask up. Most of them follow suit, and if they don’t bother with masks, they at least seem to get the idea and respect mask-wearers enough to stay as far as possible, keep their faces turned away, etc.
So we get to the pretty full parking lot, mask up, and set off down the gravel trail.
Destination: Au Sable Point
The trail is heading to the lighthouse, but there are lots of places, many with stairs, that get you down to the shore. For the first portion, there’s enough shore to roam around on.
Heading down, you’re rewarded with giant, super cool rocks:
….as well as the occasional reminder of humanity, such as it is.
There are lots of fallen trees…..
Sometimes, you have to fold up your frame like a jackknife, particularly if you are Steve.
I start to get obsessed with birch bark. There are literal tons of fallen birch trees, and the colors in the bark knock my socks off.
I could pretty much live in this palette full time.
And if you’re into weird, tangly things—note that one of the weirdest things I like to do is untangle necklace chains with knots in them—well, you’re in the right place.
As you get closer to the lighthouse, there’s not much shore left to meander on.
The lighthouse itself is a mile or so in. Without COVID, you could tour it; certainly climbing up to the top for a view would be pretty cool. But that’s not an option at the moment. No worries. With this moody sky, the place feels lonely and noble, which is exactly how I think all lighthouse sites should feel.
Log Slide, Here We Come
There’s a platform just beyond the lighthouse that gives you a nice preview of your next stop on the hike. We’re about to head in the general direction of those pink bluffs in the distance. The platform is about 10 feet above the rocks, by the way. Again: Those colors!!
This is where the real hiking begins, as the trail narrows and you walk along the cliffs. Early on, we take a few shots hanging over the edge.
And then the path heads into the woods and gets more dramatic. First, we have to negotiate this bridge which tilts down at a pretty sharp angle before spiraling back up. It’s only a little scary. But definitely a little.
A fair amount of the path is walkways over wetlands. There are at least a million ferns.
And also this super creepy-looking fungi. You know that poison apple the queen/witch gives to Snow White? I bet she totally made it out of this stuff.
After meandering through lovely, dark, deep fairy tale woods for a while, we end up at the bottom of this very steep set of stairs. Naturally, we ascend.
Back on the cliffs, we reckon that the fabled Log Slide must be getting close.
Sure enough, we quickly emerge into an open area. We are at Ye Olde Log Slide, so named because they would chop down big ass trees, then slide them down to a freighter many, many feet below.
There are at least three different signs that basically say, dude, don’t go down the log slide. It’ll take you 5 minutes to roll to the bottom, and then about three hours to hike back up. No good will come of this decision. Don’t go down the log slide.
Which is presumably why there are so many footprints in the sand. Because surely that sign doesn’t apply to you!! America! Hell Yeah!!
Of course, the view from the top of the slide is beautiful, with the dirt dropping off into infinity.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that my husband DOES read signs. Only one of the many reasons I have designated him a keeper.
Here’s the thing with what’s known as an out and back hike, aka, one where you follow the same path both directions: Once you get to the end of it, you just want to get the hell back. Also, I’m not hangry yet. But hanger is imminent. Which is what I get for trying to subsist on a smoothie made from the spinach I could salvage and half an orange. Oh, and water. Breakfast of champions…..
We race back along the path, not because we’re racing but just because we mean biz. But before we go back to town, we figure we can handle a short 1-mile out and back (1 mile total, not 1 each way, which I would draw the line at). Our destination, Miner’s Falls, is on the same road back to Munising. So off we go.
And NO ONE is social distancing on this much smaller trail. We mask up, we give people a wide berth.
At least at the viewing platform, people are keeping their distance. And the falls are stunning. I want to make some movies about the trip, and when I finally do that, you’ll have a better idea. But for now, hopefully this will suffice.
We thread back out among the smallish horde, averting our faces as we go. And now it’s time for food. We hit up a burrito joint, Taco Primo smack in the middle of Munising. Authentic? No. Social distancing enforced? Yes. Great food? Eh…. Lotsa food? YES. So overall, a win.
Later that night, we try to go on a boat but don’t (which you can read all about here if you haven’t already). It’s so overcast, we end up not feeling like we missed out all that much. And man, are we tired. Sprinting three miles through the forest, evading the maskless hordes, and pissing off a tour director will do that to ya.
Coming up: Marquette!