Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Our original plan was just to enter this park to hike the falls of the Presque Isle River, but as usual those plans changed. We had seen Lake of the Clouds before but, after entering the park, realized that we did want to see the lake again. It is one good viewing spot of the Porcupines Mountains, and Lake of the Clouds is nestled in those mountains. The lake, which is only 15 feet deep, is "so sheltered and hemmed by the surrounding mountains that winds bare ruffle its surface" (so noted by a geologist in 1851).
The Porcupine Mountains State Park is the largest of Michigan's state parks. It is 32 miles from Lake of the Clouds to the Presque Isle River falls. The drive is through some very beautiful forests of virgin maple and hemlock. The water falls all have native American names. Hiking along the river we saw the Manabezha, Manido, and Nawadaha falls, as well numerous other smaller falls. We noticed that in some places, as the Black River, the water is an orange color to a deep amber. Both rivers have a large amount of tannins and other plant sources which give them that coloring. Our last view of the river on our hike was the most awesome. Here the river flows through a deep gorge and falls over large boulders. Over the years it has cut deeply into the rock formations, and created large bowls commonly known as potholes.
The sight of the falls at this point was well worth the arduous hike over a trail that was pretty much up and down over the river cliffs. Steps which went over those cliffs were often the roots of trees, as pictured below.

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