Part 21: Wilderness Park, MI to Kingston Lake, MI


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The Trip

It was a cold, windy and rainy night at Wilderness Park.  When we chose our campsite, we chose an area that was less populated.  We discovered, that despite it being a state park and charging $9 for an entrance pass and another $28 for camping that the restrooms/showers were closed for "an electrical problem".  So, essentially we paid for services but discovered after setting up that no services were available, somewhat of a rip-off in my opinion.  But still, we soldiered on.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

After a windy and rainy night the dawn broke calm.  Once the wind abated, the lake returned to its placid state.  The bay that the evening before was covered with white caps was now calm as a Hindu cow.

We traveled east to Mackinaw City and spotted this bit of Americana.  The Weinerlicious spent a ton of money on its signage.

Our route to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan took us over the Mackinaw Straights Bridge.  This is a huge bridge that is over 5 miles in length.  Oh, and a $10 toll.

And speaking of Americana, only a very optimistic businessman would build a stairway to the top of a rock outcropping and hope customers will pay.  That said, this was the highest point for miles around and did have a view of the bridge.  But, no takers when we passed by.

We traveled north all the way across the Upper Peninsula to Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.  The museum is located on the Whitefish Point Lighthouse Station.  Visible in the photo above is the museum building, the lighthouse, the fog horn and the lookout.  The lighthouse tower was constructed around 1850 and is made of cast iron.  The claim was that this was the only design that could withstand the huge waves that crash ashore during large winter storms.

A plaque tells the story of the area's macabre history.

This large wooden rudder was on a monument in the open area.

The museum has a long history of diving to shipwrecks in the area and recovering artifacts.  The above reference to "the Soo" means the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie.

The most famous shipwreck in the area was the Edmund Fitzgerald, made famous in a 1970's song by Gordon Lightfoot called "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

During its time, the Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship in operation on the Great Lakes.  The ship was designed to haul taconite ore from the mines in Minnesota to the steel mills near Detroit.  The entire crew of 29 was lost when the ship broke apart in an unexpectedly strong early season storm.  It is postulated that the ship bottomed out in the trough of a rogue wave, breaking the hull in two.

From the beach observation deck, Ontario Canada can be seen across the narrow strait.

To the west of the deck was a small beach that has been reinforced with stone to prevent erosion during strong, storm-driven waves.

One price buys entrance to the museum and the lighthouse.  The museum was detailed and had many exhibits including this Fresnel lens used in the lighthouse.

Another Fresnel lens.

A huge lens that was in service at the facility.

The HardSuit that was used to recover artifacts from the Edmund Fitzgerald in 500 feet of water.  This is a manned exoskeleton that allows very deep dives.

The lighthouse tours were "on the clock" so when our appointed time came, we left the museum (early) and climbed the tower.  From the catwalk we had a clear view of some of the other buildings on the site.

Whitefish Point is the sand spit in the left-center of the photo above.  Whitefish Bay is to the right and can be delineated by the brownish water indicating shallows.  The blue water is the main passage. In the distance is the province of Ontario.

The lighthouse tower allowed a down-looking view of the fog horn building.

From Whitefish Point we traveled west to Tahquamenon State Park.  We camped at the lower falls area and unlike Wilderness Park, this was a nice place with all facilities functional.  Below the lower falls the calm waters provided a great reflecting surface for the cloudy sky.

Even strong trees cannot resist the force of the winter storms.

Lower Tahquamenon Falls was somewhat underwhelming but in a generally flat area any waterfall is noteworthy.  It rained hard most of the night and it was quite cold.

Next morning we broke camp at the lower falls and headed west on the highway to the upper falls.  The upper falls were much more impressive at about 50 feet of height.  The Tahquamenon River has the somewhat unique property of being laden with tanin from rotting leaves.  Note the brown stripes in the falls, particularly on the left side.

The sunlight highlights the tannin in the water resulting in the streaks.

The location of the tannin stripes vary with the viewpoint and position of the sun.

The tanin coloring becomes visible as the water hits the crest of the waterfall.

Our path west along the shore of Lake Superior brought us to a beach near Deer Park.  The winds continued resulting in small whitecaps.  The cold water and the wind also resulted in an empty beach (and the fact that this was a remote area that was close to nothing).

We traveled west along the Lake Superior shore to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Our selected campsite on the beach was full, so we continued to Kingston Lake and got a reasonable site next to the sylvan lake.  The ripples on the water are due to light rainfall.

Kingston Lake is quite small, but idyllic.

The shipwreck museum is a must-see if in the area.  It surely gave us a feel for the dangers of shipping on the Great Lakes.  And, of course, if you see the museum then you should see Upper Tahquamenon Falls as well.

Tomorrow, we head to Pictured Rocks and then north toward Copper Point, the northern-most point of the Upper Peninsula.

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