Report from the Park: Michigan (Part Two)

If you enjoyed Part I of the Report from the Park, here’s Part II!

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On Day 4, we headed where no Parks in Focus: Michigan group had gone before: to explore the east end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! That morning, we drove over to Hurricane River Campground to hike a 3-mile segment of the North Country Trail that led to the AuSable Light Station. We hiked the trail pretty leisurely – making sure to take time to explore the remains of historic shipwrecks, look for cool rocks on the beach, and photograph the diverse wildflowers abundant along the trail. We were also able to view (albeit from a distance) some of the Lakeshore’s impressive dunes. After our hike, we cooled off with a dip in Lake Superior!  We returned to camp that evening to relax, have dinner and then embark on our night hike.

Given our hiking intensive activities of the previous four days, we started our fifth day (and final full-day at the Lakeshore) by giving the participants the choice to either: go on a short-hike to check out Miner’s Falls (one of the larger waterfalls within the Lakeshore) or visit some of the more accessible (e.g., drive-to) sites on the west end of the Lakeshore. We were pleasantly surprised when the participants unanimously voted to go on the longer hike to check out Miner’s Falls. After our hike, we drove a couple miles down the road to have lunch overlooking Miner’s Castle – one of the Lakeshore’s most famous—and impressive—sandstone formations.

Click below for the final day’s updates!

That afternoon we headed west of the Lakeshore to embark on a leisurely 7-mile paddle down the gorgeous Au Train River (another first for Parks in Focus: Michigan)! Participants learned how to properly enter, exit and paddle their canoes – a skill that was frequently put to good use as we navigated around the Au Train’s natural obstacle course of sharp bends, shallow sandbars, and slightly submerged stumps. The challenges were far outweighed by the amazing weather and our numerous wildlife sightings which included turtles, frogs, waterfowl and river otters. We also took full advantage of the perfect weather conditions and pulled ashore several times to splash around in the river and to search for frogs (one of which may have ended up in someone’s swimsuit). We returned to the campsite for a hearty campsite cookout of hamburgers, hotdogs and the biggest pot of macaroni and cheese most of us had ever seen. A few of us even had room for s’mores after our final campfire and community circle.

After a quick breakfast on our final morning, we began the process of tearing down camp and packing up. We began our drive back towards home and stopped at Straits State Park in St. Ignace (just north of the Mackinaw Bridge) to have our final lunch and test our newly gained knowledge during the Parks in Focus Ultimate Trivia Challenge. After lunch, we had our final farewells and awarded the participants their Pictured Rocks Junior Rangers badges (another first for Michigan). Our fifth annual Parks in Focus Michigan program had come to a successful finale!

Parks in Focus would like to extend huge thanks to Gregg Bruff and Andrea Chynoweth at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore as well as Jen McDonough and Katie Julian at Seney National Wildlife Refuge for taking time to visit with us. We would also like to thank REI of Ann Arbor and Pictured Rocks Cruises for their continued support of our Parks in Focus efforts in the Great Lakes State.

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