Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sugarloaf Mountain

Part of the Sugarloaf Mountain easy trail
Picking up from the prior post...

Since the weather was reasonably nice, after spending some time along the Marquette shore of Lake Superior, I decided to hike Sugarloaf Mountain and postpone a late second breakfast. Sugarloaf Mountain was a short drive from the Marquette Maritime Museum. There is plenty of parking and two trails to the top: an easy one and a "difficult" one. I took the easy route.

View of the Lake Superior shore from Sugarloaf Mountain
I started on the trail alone stopping occasionally to photograph or admire the view in the woods. At one point another hiker caught up with me and after a brief talk, continue on their way walking 30 or 40 feet ahead of me. It took me about thirty minutes to reach the top and although there wasn't much fall color, the view didn't disappoint. To the east one can see the blue waters of Lake Superior. The western view is dominated by woods and hills with little sign of hand-of-man.

Woods and hills seen from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
I spent over an hour on the top hiking around, admiring the view and photographing. I probably would have spent longer if it wasn't for the fact that I was hungry and had left the snacks on the car. In comparison, the hiker that I had met on my way up reached the top, took a picture with their camera phone and almost immediately started the walk back down (and this was his first trip to Sugarloaf Mountain). A second hiker that arrived while I was there did a similar stint. It seems that we are always on the run and have no time to admire the beauty that surrounds us. I find that after I started photographing, I tend to slow down to appreciate my surroundings...perhaps this is the best gift that nature photography has provided me.

Time for breakfast...

Sugarloaf Mountain boardwalk

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting for the Light

Day two of my Michigan fall trip did not begin on a good note. I got up at 5am to catch sunrise from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.As forecasted, it was raining...and it rained well past sunrise time. I'm not one that likes sitting around so by 8am I stepped out into the rain and went to explore the area. I had been to Marquette a couple of times before but never really stepped to far from the lakefront.

In an attempt to find a couple of waterfalls, I ran into the Dead River. Even under the gray sky, it provided some beautiful views. There was little color but whatever color was there, the rain had saturated.

Dead River Fall Color
I drove around for over an hour and found a few places to revisit. Given that the sky wasn't clearing up, I made my next stop the Marquette Maritime Museum. A few years ago my wife and I had visited the museum but there was still plenty to see and learn. Once you are inside, there are no views to the outside. However, on the back wall of the museum is a door and as I walked passed it, I could see a little light coming through a small cracked. Time to finish my visit; the rest of the museum will have to wait until next year.

I ran outside, grab my camera and setup on the Lake Superior shore on the cove next to the Marquette Lighthouse. And then waited...and waited...and waited...and suddenly it happened...the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the lighthouse in the distance. Life is good!

Marquette's Lighthouse
Marquette's Lighthouse
As a side note, the lighthouse is undergoing improvements. It had received a new roof and next spring it will be repainted. I will be back next year to approve the new color.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bond Falls

Upper Bond Falls
Usually my trips include a long laundry list of places that I want to visit. The list is very ambitious and if I keep to a very strict regiment I would probably be able to hit all the locations. But the reality is that it is hard to keep a strict schedule, especially when photography is involved. Sometimes delays may be caused by uncontrollable factors such as weather conditions (wind, rain, too cloudy, not cloud enough) or people (yes, sometimes they get in the composition and decide to camp). But many other times there is so much to take in and explore that one looses track of time. Last year Michigan's Upper Peninsula fall trip included a stop at Bond Falls but for some of the reasons mentioned before, I never made it. When the time came to plan this year's trip, Bond Falls was the first location on the list.

Upper Bond Falls
 Michigan’s Bond Falls State Park is near the Wisconsin border; about a 6 hour drive from home. I left early in the morning with plans to photograph this waterfall as wells as two others that were close by. Lower Bond Falls is located a short and easy hike from the parking lot; upper Bond Falls is a short hike up a flight of stairs that parallel the lower falls.

Color reflection on river
The day of my visit the sky was clear. For many people this would be perfect weather, but this condition created bright (hot) spots wherever the sunlight hit. I had to wait for the sun to go lower on the sky. On the positive side,  this allowed me to stretch my legs by hiking up and down the trails and provided a chance to mingle with other people including several photographers. Between waiting for the light, people to move and just exploring the different possibilities, I was at Bond Falls for over 3 hours. I left almost at sunset...Not what was in the plan but Bond Falls was worth every minute.

Lower Bond Falls
And yes, I did make it over to one of the two other waterfalls I had planned on visiting (albeit too late to hike down to it) and in the process, had a brief encounter with the local police (they drive cars that seem out of the 60s) which was courteous enough to just give me a warning for driving too fast.

Lower Bond Falls