Porcupine Mtns Wilderness on the U.P.

Monday’s drive to Porkies from McLain SP

Monday we drove from FJ McLain SP near Calumet MI to Union Bay Campground in Porcupine Mtns Wilderness State Park. The drive was really pretty and easy. Along the way we came upon a road sign for business route into Ontonagon MI. Hit the brakes, swerve right and let’s see what this lakeshore town is like. It was pretty nice.

We drove all about then found great parking at the US Post Office. Mailed a couple of packages (including the warranty return on the refrigerator control board). And walked up the street to Connie’s for a cup of coffee and a pastry. Great folks, superb house blend coffee. Glad we refueled ourselves. Now we’re off to the state park.

NOT ants in his pants

Know why Yoopers like winter best? Because the swarming black flies don’t. Arrived at Porcupine Mountain State Park, greeted by zillions of black flies. Swarms upon swarms of these flies are everywhere we can see and assuredly in places we cannot. I’ve been in stables and pig stys with fewer flies per cubic meter, for sure. I was refilling the water tank when Deb returned from the campground registration desk. I asked hopefully, “just one night?”

The flies seem to follow moving things. A truck or car motors past our camp site and a huge swarm of black flies follows. We walk between the truck and the trailer and a swarm follow, just waiting for us to stop moving. I conducted a scientific test — while walking I had not a single fly light on my legs, face or arms.

Four times I stopped from a walking pace and within no more than two seconds I had between two and a dozen flies on me. I didn’t wait around to see how many more seconds before they bite. We’d already experienced their bites, didn’t want to invite more.

Best summer gun rack in northern Michigan

Our fly swatter normally stores in a lower cabinet. Not while in Union Gap campground in the Porkies — we needed ready access to this suddenly very important tool. We also decided to enjoy our magnificent view of Lake Superior through the windows of the RV to stop opening the door.

Tuesday morning we shook and rattled the trailer’s door mightily then leaped, one after the other, out of the trailer and quickly swung the door closed behind us. We were off to Lake of the Clouds, a few miles south and well uphill from our campground.

Lake of the Clouds

Lake of the Clouds lived up to its billing — friends Charlie and Janet told us to be sure and visit the Porcupine Mtns Wilderness and especially Lake of the Clouds. Funny, this trip has been shaped several times by recommendations from friends or acquaintances. Every time the recommendations have worked out superbly. This was no exception, the drive was nice, parking was good, a short path led to the overlook, and nice hiking trails go in every direction as long as you want to go downhill.

We hiked along the escarpment trail while keeping an eye on the skies for changing weather. Rain had sprinkled off and on all morning and we were hearing great thunder rolling through the gorge. Luck was with us, we were able to hike a couple of miles and enjoy sitting awhile too. This is a gorgeous spot, quiet and peaceful. The only noises we heard were wind through the trees below us and birds chirping from all directions.

and then the clouds rolled in

No sooner did we return to the trail’s top at the overlook than a great cloud started enveloping the lake. Folks just showing up didn’t know what a great view they had just missed, while skies were clearer. It is still pretty great, but clearly not as nice as what we first saw. Incidentally, Lake of the Clouds is one mile long and no more than 15 feet deep, and remains very calm because it is sheltered on all sides in this gorge. Very nice!

Mid-afternoon we tooled back down the mountain to our campground. Repeated the exercise of flailing arms and hats all about the trailer’s door then somewhat recklessly bounding inside while pulling the door behind us. Only eight or ten flies accompanied us inside — far less than the flies census in a cubic foot in our camp site.

Last night was the darkest we’ve had since we crossed the Mackinac Bridge onto the Upper Peninsula. Soon we learned why — a big-time storm was rumbling west and south of us. We saw lightning lighting up the lake, over and over again. The storm seemed aways off, we weren’t so much hearing the thunder. But winds were definitely up! We left a pair of windows in the bedroom cracked so we could hear the surf, something Lake Superior hadn’t provided so much during the past week.

We were awakened by some of the hardest rain we’ve ever experienced. Rain was pummeling the trailer really hard around five a.m. We battened down the two windows and fell in and out of sleep while hearing this storm battering our trailer. The storm lasted less than two hours. Great news! Our rolling house didn’t leak a drop under this severe downpour. Maybe we’re okay for the summer?

We’re done with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for this trip. As always, we have left something else to see. Another time we will have to try Sault Ste Marie and Escanabe and Gulliver and Manistique and Marinette and wherever else friends send us. This has been a fine visit full of splendid weather, interesting tours, and great vistas. We learned history of mining and shipping and military garrisons in the U.P. We met neat people and saw interesting towns. We’ll look forward to returning sometime.

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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2 responses to “Porcupine Mtns Wilderness on the U.P.

  1. We are able to travel out west with you vicariously. Nice to finally have the opportunity to follow you. Love you guys!
    Medora and Jeff

    • Doe,
      So glad to have you along with us. Caught a surprise for you a few days ago in the Keweenaw Peninsula of UP, will email to you separately. Love you too,
      Jimbo

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