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Upper Peninsula Michigan

The forest is gorgeous and the breaking of the water over the rocky edge is so alluring - I walk closer to get a better view and soak it all in. The turquois blue and woodland green encapsulate me and I am at peace. I step over a log towards the edge and feel a sharp sting - damn horse flies, right on my arm! JFK yelps- did she get bit too? I slap my leg damnit another one - she cries, I look over only to see a swarm of yellow buzzing all around her. Damnit! Another one, fuckin A- my leg! We start running without any real destination in mind just away as fast as we can. JFK has a row of them on her back and I have had at least 6 too between my exposed legs and arms. These stings hurt, immediate burn, and they just keep stabbing at you... We have gone 200 yards roughly and we finally have them all off of us. I'm in fierce pain, blotches of red and immediate swelling all over my thighs and arms. I'm mostly worried about the pups - looking around the wall of rock and roots peering up to our left and a sheer water drop off to our right we're really quite limited on routes back. We dash madly passed where we once were riddled with violent hornets just trying to get back - I get another one to my right thigh - stuck in my pocket stinging away at me. Jae gets one to her butt and I kick it off as quick as I can we keep running jumping fallen logs, I break the leash free as we climb up and over a horizontal tree and up a hill. We make it far enough away to feel safe from their terror- warning everyone we pass of the violent attackers just ahead. Something about Michigan, of my two trips, both have resulted in these horrific stinging's. I looked up later to see if there's any significance, given the statistical probability of being attacked twice in two separate segments of one state and never before in any of my million other travels. Spiritual awakening, I guess it means I need to be more present...I think the name Devils Falls seems fitting for the particular nightmare that accompanied our hike on this particular day. We rush out of the park aching in pain, I'm feeling mildly nauseous, and my mind is wandering - will the girls be, okay? We each had so many stings...

----------- Pictured Rocks National Park, Munsing MI

I can't even see my hand right in front of me it's pitch black and all I can hear are the absence of sounds all together accompanied by a light tapping of the rain drops on the roof. It may sound ridiculous but anyone who has spent any time in the woods can agree the audible loudness screaming in, well, the lack of noise itself. The silence can be profoundly loud and with the stars tucked into the blanketed sky I was soon sound asleep.

I awoke to La Bonita's (my Bronco) tires pressed into the sandy shore of a portion of Lake Superior the morning was grey and wet but it anchored a peacefulness endowed with its monochrome complexion. I' am at Sand Point, Pictured Rocks National Park, right outside of Munsing, MI. I swing from trailhead to look out really only getting the chance to graze the views and taste the trails that the area had to offer because nearly every trail was closed off to pets which was super disappointing but Miners Castle and beach provided some gorgeous views overlooking some of the renowned picturesque imagery I was searching for and timed nicely with the sunset.

The weight of the lake waves was wildly impressive and at no point did I feel like I was anywhere but at a touch point of the ocean; toes nestled in soft sand and blue beyond my line of sight.

I grabbed a coffee and sent a postcard from the park indulging in some hot food and coffee; Eh Burger! boasted a really noteworthy bison burger with some kick and some java from Pictured Rocks Bookstore and Cafe. While I'm researching some prospective hikes that allow my pups to hike with me, I notice a fellow car dweller; a super sick Element set up that clearly rocks some travel stickers -as a solo female traveler I find it super inspiring to connect with other travelers, especially fellow women, who embrace the world around them and are not afraid to adventure within it themselves. She was awesome, but truthfully, not surprising. We exchange stories, some laughs, and she offers some local insight for my next destination over in Marquette, Michigan. Parting ways, I head towards Sugar Loaf Mountain, Dead River Falls, Pisque Isles, and a hidden beach titled only by its gifted grid coordinates.

We roll into a nice trailhead for Sugar Loaf Mountain it is still drizzling out which creates a nice fog peering over head; it's a great contrast to the fallen leaves and colors in the air ahead. It's a simple hike but it's far from boring. The peak has a beautiful boarded overlook and soft rolling tree lines reaching out far beyond my eye line and on this particular day with sit atop the rainy clouds. Not far from these woods and entrancing woods are Piscque Isles - with an epic rocky landscape which boasts some cliff jumping and an unforgettable viewing of the Sunset. The colors in the sky come to life and the sun slowly creeps and drops behind the water line.

The hidden beach was absolutely just that. Hidden. If not, haven been given the grid coordinates, I would have missed out in a truly unforgettable milestone of this trip I park along the side of the road - no parking, no trailhead, just trees in every direction pressed up against the pavement. I start to walk in trying to keep in mind some semblance of where I am parked so I can find my way back. I can see ahead maybe 500 feet or so the trees tapper off at what appears as the edge of the world; I walk up on it and it drops off deep to the water below. We walk along the cliffs edge until we reach a decline that seems crawlable down to the beach. I'm using three points of contact slipping and sliding on my butt down the sloped rock and clay until my shoes finally land in sand. Cliffs shoot up all around this little beached in peninsula. It echos the sound of the waves and we run the beach taking in the awesomeness of this find; we start up a little bonfire and me and the pups enjoy the awe of stunning skyline and stars above. The climb back up kind of sucks when it's time but totally worth it. I camp that night in a state park up the road, also right on the beach. There was no shortage of awesome water views out here.

I dropped into Contrast Coffee for an amazing almond maple latte and meat lover's quiche, followed up later by a Jeans Pasty - pastry like meat encasing that was quite delicious. The trip, minus the bee variation attack, was phenomenal. Really great beaches, captivating cliffs, life inspiring sunsets, and epic scenery all around. We hit this super rad Sculpture Park on the way out and it was a totally worthwhile and spunky, unique road trip spot!

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