Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For October 5th, 2007 Edition.
I know I’ve said many times the season of fall is my favorite. And a recent trip taken by very dear friends of ours, plus wifee poo, Belle and I, simply reinforced my reasoning why fall always has been and still remains my favorite time of the year.
My spouse and I have bummed around with Eddie and Marilyn for nearly a half-century, which also reinforces my belief that old friends are the best friends. I first met Eddie Petras in 1945 when he and his family were vacationing in St. Germain. Eddie’s dad hired my dad to guide him to some walleyes, the two kids met and a lasting friendship was forged. Eddie enjoys telling folks that I am his oldest friend, and that simple statement carries a double meaning.
For several years the four of us have kicked around the idea of taking a fall “color tour” to “Da U.P.”, as our friends have only scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in Yooperland. On the other hand I started prowling the trout streams of Upper Michigan with my dad when my age was recorded in single digits. Since then I’ve spent a ton of time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan fishing for trout, camping, canoeing, deer hunting, and in general enjoying the quiet and peacefulness the area offers. My numerous accolades concerning the beauty and serenity of the land just a few miles up the road from Northern Wisconsin triggered a desire in our two friends to see the area first hand for themselves, providing Peggy and I would host the trip and act as tour guides.
Our tour began on the morning of September 18th under foreboding gray skies, which had little or no effect on our eagerness and enthusiasm. Having been appointed as the “guide” for the adventure I produced an itinerary, which included a twisting route to include as many U.P. points of interest as possible for our planned four day tour, and sleeping accommodations that were “pet friendly.”
We engulfed a gut filling breakfast at the Country Flair and then headed north on highway 45 to Paulding, took a right on Bond Falls Road to visit the 2nd largest waterfall in “Da U.P.” Not having personally visited the historic and scenic park for more than 10 years, much to our surprise and delight we discovered a “new” road, which took us to within a hundred yards of the base of the falls. The blacktop parking lot contained a dozen vehicles plus a large yellow school bus. The view of the cascading falls was not as spectacular as normal, due to the ongoing drought and a lack of water, but still, it was breathtakingly beautiful set in a multitude of fall color. Our visit was cut short by an ominous rumble of thunder to the west, coupled with a billowing black cloud, which sent us scrambling to my truck. The torrential downpour hit seconds later and continued for nearly an hour.
We bypassed our second objective, Agate Falls, as the thought of viewing a waterfall during a waterfall didn’t sound like something we’d enjoy. Next stop, Presque Isle Park and the gorge of the Presque Isle River. Here the rain subsided to a light drizzle, allowing us to see the sights under the protection of the umbrellas we had thoughtfully packed. The boardwalks were devoid of sightseers and we completed our tour a few minutes before the heavens opened wide once more.
South Boundary Road was alive with fall colors, which we enjoyed viewing between the arch of the windshield wipers. Upon reaching Union Bay we paid a short visit to the Porcupine Mountains State Park Visitor’s Center, then checked into our deluxe cabin at Mountain View Lodge on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.
Lake of the Clouds was our last stop on day one, and a short stop it was. Just as we reached the viewing area overlooking Michigan’s most photographed treasure we were struck with a mini-typhoon. Umbrellas were useless and we were soaked to the skin by the time we had beaten a hasty retreat to the truck. The nice DNR man at the admissions booth gave us a FREE pass for the following day after hearing our heart-rending story of getting soaked at the rim of the canyon.
Later that evening, after enticing our appetites with chilled glasses of internal body stimulants we dined like kings on charcoal grilled New York strip steaks and giant Idaho potatoes prepared on our screened in porch while watching pouring rain and six foot waves pound the shoreline. But, all in all our day had been memorable and our spirits were still uplifted.
On day two, prior to breakfast, we visited the vista overlooking Lake of the Clouds, this time under sunny skies. I believe Marilyn exclaimed, “Wow, is this beautiful” several times. After breakfast we continued our tour by driving to Copper Harbor. The sun continued to shine intermittently, making the color along highway 26 between Greenland and Houghton really come alive. After crossing the bridge between Houghton and Hancock we took the west coast route along 203 and 26 to our second nights lodging at the King Copper Motel. During the afternoon we toured picturesque Brockway Mountain Road and old Fort Wilkins. Cocktails and dinner at the Harbor Haus was exquisite and charming.
Day three found us leaving the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula by way of the scenic roadway paralleling the east coast from Copper Harbor back to Hancock. Then it was on to Baraga via highway 41 with a stop at Chassell, which is considered a must for the female segment of our population.
The Four Seasons Motel is conveniently located just across highway 38 from the casino in Baraga, although our attempt to pay for our vacation by spending a couple of hours there were in vane. After checking in at the motel we traveled to one of the most secluded, pristine locations in the U.P. Point Abbaye juts northeastward into Lake Superior separating Keweenaw Bay from Huron Bay. To get there one must pass through L’Anse on Skanee Road to Townline Road, then turn right at the “Dead End” sign onto Point Abbaye Road. From there to the end of the peninsula you’ll travel 12 miles on gravel, sand and finally a quarter mile of two rut goat path to experience one of the most spectacular views your eyes will ever see! (Warning, the trip is not for the faint at heart or blacktop only vehicles.)
We awoke on day four to thunderous blasts of thunder and monsoon type precipitation. The vote was 4 – 0 to head home, with Belle abstaining. The rain finally ended about the time we turned south on FFS-16 at Kenton. The best color of the entire trip awaited our eyes during our 35-mile trip from Kenton to Stormy Lake north of Phelps.
We had such a great time the 5 of us are planning to explore the eastern portion of “Da U.P.” next September! We all made mental notes to include umbrellas as part of our baggage.
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: email@example.com or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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