Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Au Sable River

Yesterday we drove over to the eastern side of Michigan, with our first stop being at Tawas Point State Park. We climbed the lighthouse there and after that hiked the Sandy Hook Trail which took us to the tip of the peninsula.  Pictured below is Lake Huron and Sandy Hook as we saw it from the trail.
Michigan is also experiencing  the heat wave which is currently affecting a good portion of our nation.  We found it a bit uncomfortable while out hiking, but at least a lake breeze kept us cool.  Flocks of tree swallows swarmed over and around us as we walked on the sandy path.  From the park we drove over to the Au Sable River Road Scenic Byway, a twenty-two mile River Road Scenic Byway which extends westward from Lake Huron to the Huron-Manistee National Forests.  In the late 1800s this was a major transportation route, taking Michigan's white pines from the inland forests to the sawmill towns on Lake Huron.
One of our first stops on the River Road was at the Lumberman's Monument.  The memorial, erected in 1931, overlooks the Au Sable River.  Words on the monument note that the lumberman's labors "made possible the development of the prairie states".  Cutting of  the pines was important during the 1800s both for the economy of Michigan and the growth of the nation.  Reforestation has brought the pines back, which we saw in evidence yesterday while driving through the tree plantations and national forests of the river road.  There are also springs to be seen along the scenic by-way.  We decided that, given the warmth of the day, we could only hike down to one, Iargo Springs.  In Native American language the word means "many waters".  And that is best how to describe what we saw in the springs area.  There are many little streams and waterfalls coming out of the hill which we hiked down towards the Au Sable River.
 Amazingly, the water is so cold it seems to warm the air around it!  What a cool place to be during the hot summer months.  It is also very beautiful with the presence of large maples, hemlocks and pines.  Moss and many ferns also dot the forest floor.  However, even though the springs area is very wet, the river is down,. We noticed grass in the water as well as exposed tree roots along the river's edge.  After our hike to the springs our day was pretty much gone and we were getting hungry.  Time to head home.

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