I was camping with my family in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This state park is massive boasting miles and miles of trails and views of both Lake Superior and the mountains and valleys that are guaranteed to leave you breathless.
Lake Superior is by far my most favorite of the Great Lakes. Most people think of the Great Lakes as just plain old lakes. These lakes are vast and deep. You can’t see across them. Sometimes the waves are so wild and gnarly they are frightening. They create weather and can either make oncoming storms from Wisconsin dissipate or grow. Lake Superior is the bluest of the 5 lakes. It has the most shipwreck tales and the rugged beauty of this northern lake is stunning, peaceful and ever different from one coastal area to another.
My daughter’s boyfriend was with us, and we had spent quite a bit of time rising just before sunrise to catch it on this east-facing shore of Lake Superior. He suggested we get up even earlier one morning and hike the Escarpment Trail from Lake in the Clouds up and down the ridges for about 5 miles. It proved to be a perfect suggestion. The three of us were able to do it, getting out of our sleeping bags at 5:30 in the morning, packing a light breakfast of Pop-Tarts and healthier granola bars and plenty of water. We drove two cars — one we dropped off at a parking site five miles from our start, and the other we took to the top.
The sunrise hadn’t happened yet, but we could see Lake in the Clouds below us, covered with a great rolling fog. The fog began at Lake Superior and rolled right down the river to Lake in the Clouds and out again to the west. The fog below us was deep, thick and ever-moving.
Then the sun burst forth over the small mountains and the colors of the fog and the rocks and trees glowed orange and yellow and purple and red. Before the sun got to high, we thought we should start our hike. That decision was probably the best one we made. We left behind the others who seemed loud — a Boy Scout troop and a family who intended to go for a bike ride after catching the sunrise. We headed down the trail, and just about a half mile, if even that, we came to a clearing with a cliff edge and amazing overlook. We stopped and just looked about in amazement. Further down, another clearing with an equally breath-taking view! This continued on and on and on. We could even see beaver homes in the river below as well as animal trails. We found bear scat on the trail. Hiked past backpackers at their campsite.
We went up and we went down, but when we went up no more, we knew we were on our way out of the trail. It was sad, but we were tired having been up so early, and having spent so much energy just looking about us. We ate wild blueberries and even thimbleberries on the trail and left the granola bars in the pack. Later we could only lament that the camera was not quite able to fully capture God’s morning masterpiece.