Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

8:29 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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The North Country Trail runs through Michigan's Upper Peninsula, skirting Lake Superior in spots.  Arguably the most scenic section of the NCT, the 42 mile segment between Munising and Grand Marais offers backpackers and day hikers plenty of variety; sandstone cliffs from which the park derives it's name, forests, beach, dunes, and of course the lake itself.  The first 21 miles, from Munising Falls to Coves CG, is mostly comprised of the cliffs with some sections of forest hiking.  The next 21 miles winds along beach, forests, and a final section up onto the Grand Sable Dunes.  My brother and I did this section of the NCT - the so-called "Lakeshore Trail" - over 4 days this past week.  Nighttime lows of 50 degrees, daytime highs in the mid-70's, a gentle but steady Northwesterly breeze off the lake which kept the stable flies as nothing more than an ugly specter that never materialized, and plenty of sunshine all contributed to make this the most "carefree" multi-day hike I have done.  Here are a few photos:

Day 1: Munising Falls Interpretive Center -> Mosquito Beach CG (about 12 miles)

Kits ready to go:
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In the woods:
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Climbing a little bit higher:
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Miner's Castle:
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Miner's River
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Miner's Beach:
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Looking ahead:
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Sandstone at dusk:
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More of the sandstone:
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I won't ever tire of these:
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Day 2 to come...









8:44 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Day 2: Mosquito Beach CG -> Mosquito Falls -> Coves CG

Getting ready:
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Mosquito Falls:
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Looking back:
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Looking ahead (a - head; that's actually Indian Head jutting out)
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Kit:
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A 175 foot high beach:
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Grand Portal Point behind us:
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Looking back:
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Just what the doctor ordered:
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Chapel Rock sitting at the end of Chapel Beach:
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The cliff calved off into the lake, taking the trail along with it.  So did the re-route that was constructed afterwards.  We had to follow the 2nd re-route constructed within 24 hours.  A little hairy:
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Spray falls behind us and Grand Portal point way behind us:
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One of the several beautiful little coves along the way:
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At the end of the cliffs, the beach starts:
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...and stretches as far as we can see:
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Home:
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More beach:
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G'night:
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Day 3 to come...


















9:05 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Day 3: Coves CG -> Au Sable Point East

Crossing Beaver Creek:
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A relic in the woods:
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Much needed break:
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The trail (mostly) stayed in the woods, but afforded great views of the lake just a stones throw away:
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The wreck of the Mary Jarecki.  She went down on July 4, 1883 full of iron ore.
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Au Sable lighthouse:
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Lighthouse closer up:
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Wrecks of the Sitka and the Gale Staples.  The Sitka stranded on October 4, 1904.  The Gale Staples grounded on the reef October 1, 1918.  The Sitka was full of iron ore, while the Gale Staples was loaded down with coal.
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Looking back at the lighthouse:
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Camp at Au Sable Point East:
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A nice Cab to help ease the aches:
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The beach at dusk.  The Grand Sable dunes ahead of us rise 500 feet above the lake.
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Our last night on the lake:
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Skipping stones:
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Day 4: Au Sable Point East -> Grand Marais Visitor Center

Sunrise on the lake:
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Looking back at Au Sable Point and the lighthouse:
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On top of the Grand Sable Dunes at the log slide.  During the white pine logging boom (roughly 1840 - 1900), the loggers used wooden chutes that ran down these dunes to shoot the logs down into the lake:
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Au Sable Lake.  Basically the last sight on the trip:
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The end in sight.  Bittersweet, but definitely more bitter than sweet:
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9:14 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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great looking trip, thanks for sharing.!!!!!

9:30 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey ghost, where are you at now? I live in Munising, and hike the Lakeshore trail pretty regularly...I could meet up with you for a campfire if you're still in the area...

9:58 p.m. on July 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Pillowthread - 

Back in Grand Rapids!  Dammit!  

Anyways, I am pretty fond of your back 40.  I will visit you again soon and I will message you before I do.  Have you been living in the area for quite a while?

6:00 a.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Very pretty.  The reality of UP shore line hiking looks pretty much like I fantasize it to be.

Wine on day three of a pack trip.  Was that purchased en route or schlepped the entire distance?  Either way, that sounds like some good living.

Ed

7:45 a.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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 Beautiful area and it looks like a great trip! Thanks for sharing all those pictures; your effort is appreciated!

8:25 a.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Ed

We carried 2 500ml cardboard boxes of wine, enough for a couple glasses each on the 2nd and 3rd night out.  

1:09 p.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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WOW....Nice!

1:59 p.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Wow what a great place to hike.

3:31 p.m. on July 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I've been in Munising for a little over a month now...should be here into early winter. September is an even better time to visit...bugs are gone, and the nights are crisp!

4:22 p.m. on July 4, 2012 (EDT)
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What a beautiful walk! The beaches are impressive, but I love that sandstone.

September 23, 2014
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