Upper Peninsula of Michigan Pt1

Recently, on a photo workshop, I visited a region of the country previously unknown to me, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or, U.P. in local vernacular. It is a very sparsely populated vast land mass jutting into the Great Lakes that time has simply passed by. A boom mining economy (iron and copper ore) in the end of the 1800’s and the beginnings of the 1900’s has long disappeared leaving logging and tourism as an economic skeleton of what once was. Fiercely independent and self-reliant, the locals, “Yoopers” if you will, endure short summers and 160 inch snowfall winters( snowmobiles are mandatory equipment for tourists and locals alike). Lake Superior, the largest freshwater body in the world, creates its own weather systems. Many ships, including the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, have met their demise in ocean-like storms on this sea of fresh water.  If the water of Lake Superior was pumped into a 5 foot deep swimming pool, it would cover the entire United States.

Small hamlets dot this forested glacier-flattened land mass. Cabins and hunting camps quietly blend to the trees waiting for lower Michiganders to come for short visits. Unassuming motels in the pines accommodate other visitors with clean rooms, hot water, and the charm of simpler times. The locals willingness to pay the price for living the lifestyle they cherish reminds me of Vermonters. Sitting right on the shore of Lake Superior, the larger village of Munising (population 2500) became a sanctuary from my temporary home in the woods. A logger’s breakfast with the locals at the “Dawg Patch” was fuel for an entire day.

Even though we had gathered at this location primarily to study macro photography, Munising offered an opportunity to explore the 15 mile section of Lake Superior known as the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Sandstone cliffs exposed to violent wind and wave erosion have left curious formations and mineral deposits have stained the craggy coast to create a contemporary art gallery. Boarding an evening tour boat, we were able witness the changing mood created by the setting sun.
Many see the head of an Indian Chief with flowing headdress in this formation.
Erosion and time caused tons of rock to recently fall from this arch.

LM4A2487This pine tree sits atop a sandstone formation connected to sustainable earth only by roots spanning the separation to solid land.LM4A2541


Copper, iron and manganese create a colorful canvas



Copper bleeds green and blue with iron brown and orange and manganese black.

After departing our cruise boat, we all decided to hike along the shore looking for unique shots of the action of the water eroding interesting patterns in the sandstone.



This formation, called the Miner’s Castle, actually had a hole tunneled through.



As you can see, a new area can easily sidetrack one. No worries… tomorrow is another day and macro photography will fill it up.

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