September 5th, 2007 @ 19:59:58
Like I thought in my previous non-technical posting, second part of Summer was indeed quite hectic. We didn’t get enough (any) rains and our UP fell under Extreme Drought label – making it nearly worthless to even attempt searching for any more waterfalls. With Labor Day marking the official end of Summer, following are a brief photographical descriptions of the latter part:
4th of July Fireworks
For the second year in a row, I was lucky enough to find parking space in spite of starting late. Fog and overcast conditions played a bit of spoilsport but it was still a good show.
After following the Forest Highway 2200 (Prickett Dam Road) from M38 (near Houghton-Baraga County line) for 12+ miles, I was thoroughly disappointed with the trail markings. The parking area and trail head are very well marked but the trail itself disappeared after about 300 feet into the woods. Fortunately, I found some broken tree branches and bent plants (signs of human activity) and managed to get to a (not very useful) sign. It only said which way one should go but didn’t say how far one should go! Although the trail was quite wide (old logging road), but plant growth was in abundance hinting dearth of human activity in this area. After walking for nearly a mile and not knowing how far I had to go (I wasn’t hearing any water sound either), I decided to return back to the parking lot. Unfortunately, I was lost for about (what seemed like the longest) 30 minutes (of my life) before eventually finding the trail. But for my Swiss Army Knife, I probably would have been part of Upper Michigan’s wilderness forever!!
On the other side of the parking area (for Sturgeon Falls) is a very well marked trail that leads one to this Sturgeon River Gorge – albeit a 60 degree incline lasting over half a mile. The views and opportunities, however, are very much worth the calories burnt to get down. A nearly 25 feet drop by the Sturgeon River makes not only a very pleasant view (reward for hiking down the valley) but also causes a deep enough pool for people to do some cliff diving/jumping. Although I hadn’t done it in a long time (cliff diving/swimming), I just couldn’t resist the temptation. Following the popular saying, the best thing to do with a temptation is to yield to it, I too jumped off the cliff once into this pool and I swear, I felt like a teenager all over again
Douglass Houghton Falls
When Dave Bezotte took me for a Sunny Saturday morning breakfast to Victoria’s Kitchen way back in Summer of 2004, I knew I was hooked to the food but little did I know that it would eventually take me to this famed Douglass Houghton Falls. Having heard so much about it from so many different people over the past four+ years, it had become in more ways than one a final frontier during this Summer of Waterfalls. Thanks to Vicky and George, I finally got to see it with buddy Kyle. Although located not too far from Lake Linden (which is about 10 miles from Houghton along M26), fact that the surrounding land is private property makes it really hard to access this waterfall. From what I have heard, folks who own the surrounding land (yes, just the land – law is that no one can own a natural resource) used to allow general public but some of the general public did so many monkey acts (viz. climbing the cliff, falling off of it, entering the cave, and such) that they were forced to block the access.
Hike to the top of this waterfall isn’t too bad but hiking down to the bottom along a near 70 degree incline can be quite hazardous/deadly. Having George with us all the way down the to bottom was of great help and the view from bottom – of a 100+ feet drop of water (in three+ segments) surrounded by a horseshoe like canyon – is quite breathtaking. There is an easily noticeable cave used by bats and plenty of bones/skeletons lying around as well.
Presque Isle in Porcupine Mountains
One of the three waterfalls of the Presque Isle River, the access to this one (and the other two as well) is by following well marked trail starting from the Presque Isle parking area. During my previous visit, in April 2007, photographical attempts were marred by too much Sun shine. Approaching the waterfall was nearly impossible due to Spring snow melts and slippery rocks/slopes.
The Presque Isle is the largest river in the Porcupine Mountains, draining over 300 sq. miles of forest land in the Upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin. The amber-colored water of the river, and the persistent foam beneath the waterfalls, are largely the result of tannins and other water-soluble plant compounds that wash into the river as it journeys to meet Lake Superior. Lower water levels meant that I could actually sit midstream and shoot pictures. Although I would have wished to have a cloud cover, setting Sun did help get longer exposures. In the language of the native Ojibwa people, Manido means spirit or ghost. The largest falls rightfully take their name from the powerful Ojibwa spirit God Manabezho. The porcupine was known to the Ojibwa as kag and the Porcupine Mountains as Kagwadjiw.
The finely terraced rock over which the river flows is called the Nonesuch Shale. It is composed of sand and clay particles that were deposited in a shallow lake that covered this area almost a billion years ago. The round potholes in the riverbed form an eddy current continually swirls pebbles and sand grains in a circular path. Over time, the scouring action of these materials wear away the softer shale, forming the large smooth-sided potholes that can be seen here.
Having seen couple other bigger waterfalls earlier in the day and not having seen any of these rock formations previously (due to Spring snow melts and overflows), I almost did not shoot this picture. Returning from Presque Isle to the main land on a delicate suspension bridge (delicate because it shakes if wind blows a bit hard; it shakes if people walk around the bridge, let alone on it), these rock formations caught my attention, thanks mainly due to the lower levels of water. I did manage to get a pretty crisp 10 seconds exposure on a breezy evening and thankfully, no one was around the bridge to induce camera shake. Owing to Long Exposure Noise Reduction, I had to wait at least five more seconds to see the result and at the end of it all, it was very very satisfying and yes, 15 seconds – often a minuscule amount of time in our daily standards – did feel like eternity
Presque Isle Unit in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park can be accessed either by the South Boundary Road (from M107 near Silver City) or by County Road 519 (from M28 near Wakefield).
Got introduced to this annual music festival by Dave Bezotte last year and there is something about this place/event that keeps drawing me back. There were plenty more known people and a variety of music on plate. Organizers have created a very aesthetically pleasant website, although it hasn’t seen any update since the event.
Rest of the pictures from this event are here.
Graduate League & Church League Softball
This was the 5th (yeah fifth) season playing in Michigan Tech Grad League and 3rd season in Church League. Although our respective teams had outstanding season, the end result could have been better. In Church League playoffs, we killed ourselves while in Grad League finals (yeah, 5th straight finals appearance), the other team outplayed us in every aspect. Thanks to all those who taught me this game, let me be part of it, I can boast of being part of the team(s) that have a 54-7-1 record through 5 years of Grad League (and one inside the park home run, in game # 61)
Steven and Rebbie were in the UP during Alumni Weekend and I had the opportunity to roam around several of industrial ruins in our area. Although some were places that I had been/seen before, I did learn more about them during this visit – however, visit to the dredge near Dollar Bay, was my first time
Rest of the pictures from this trip are here.
Alumni ReUnion Basketball
Something that I had been waiting for a while – to see some of Tech’s All American Selections in action. And, they didn’t disappoint – displaying dunks, alley-oops, buzzer beaters and an overtime game
Rest of the pictures from this event are here.
My friends, Jill and Steve, had many of us over for a cook out at their place in Baltic and after all the eating (and throwing some football as well), Jill suggested that we go and see International Space Station (ISS). ISS wasn’t at its usual brightness but I did manage to get this nearly 30 minute long exposure of the night sky…
Week In East Coast
Much of what I did in this week long trip — covering Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York — was classified but there were many things that were unclassified as well. Awesomely tasty, authentically prepared food was always there; learnt that my SB800 Speed light flash could be used as a remote flash (thanks to Nagesh); this technique came in very handy while in New Jersey and New York; hung out with my buddies from elementary school and undergraduate days… All in all, I had fun is an understatement.
Out of Staters… In The UP
Two of my friends, Parag and Rupinder, are officially the first out of staters to visit UP Michigan. In about 2 days that they were here, I got to see Porcupine Mountains, Presque Isle, Estivant Pines in Copper Harbor (and more)….
Rest of the pictures from their stay are here.
Eli & Karen … I Will
Two more of my friends, Eli and Karen, said I Will to each other, in what can be termed as a scientifically artistic wedding. Having known both of these and many of those who participated in the event, made it very very enjoyable and needless to say, I was one of the last to leave the party
Rest of the pictures from this event are here.
In a nutshell, this has been the best summer so far – for more reasons than one. Got to see plenty more than I had ever imagined and meet many more interesting personalities – some known and some hitherto unknown. Just started Fall semester seems quite promising as well – in more ways than one and so does life itself…