Happy Memorial Day! If I did not know the date and was asked to guess what holiday it is based on the weather, I would most likely be guessing Independence Day. The past 4 days we have hit 80 degrees or more and we have made it above 75 degrees for the 7 days. I am certainly not complaining and neither is anyone else up here. The extra month or two we had of winter was a tough pill to swallow for most up here.
In the last entry, I promised to show a picture of the bookcase I built for Grace. I doubt that too many of you even remembered that, but I do like to stay true to my word! So here it is. It has made a wonderful addition to her room, helping to get all of her books into one spot and organized. I am also proud to say that she was the one that did all the work, collecting the books and organizing them in the case. I am also happy to see empty space on it, as she is a total bookworm. She has read all of the books in that case, plus a lot more. There is a stack of around 30 books that she did not put into the case and said she wants to donate them. Plus, she seems to read a library book about once a week and I am not talking about the small kids books, but rather novels, many of them adult. I am going to a bit of bragging here, so forgive a proud dad, but all of that reading has caused her to be very good at it. They recently did testing in her school and her reading score was what is expected when a student is finishing up 12th grade. I think by the time I was in the 12th grade, I was already in a backwards slide, due to lack of reading!
Anyway, back to the goings on in the Keweenaw. Last week I shared a picture of the tree tops as they were just beginning to fill out. That filling out process went very quickly and here is the looks of the woods now. We did get a little bit of rain this week, but not enough to really give everything a good soaking. Nora has been busy watering her plants and I am seriously thinking about putting the pool up this week. The shade the filled out trees provide is very welcomed and helps to keep them from becoming tinder dry, even on the warm and sunny days like today. There has also been a greening up of the floor of the woods. That greening up is lagging the greening in the canopy, but is also helping to reduce the fire danger I harped on in last weeks entry. We are still at an elevated risk, but the DNR fire risk sign down the highway has gone from “Extreme” to “Moderate” this week and for that I am thankful.
The amount of vehicles on the roads has also increased noticeably in the past week or so. Probably more due to the return of the snowbirds than tourists, but there have been quite a few out of town licence plates spotted as well. It really is amazing how much more active this area gets in the summer. I think those of you that have only been up here to play in the snow would be surprised at all that is going on up here in the summer.
Yesterday, Grace, my brother and I headed out to the mouth of the Montreal River. It has always been one of my favorite spots up here, but I also had not been out there since Grace was born, and Grace and my brother had never been there. It’s weird preparing for a hike like that up here at this time of the year. While the temp at our house was 80 degrees, it can be in the 40’s when you are right down by the lake. So you ponder if you want to wear shorts or long pants and not if you are going to bring a jacket, but what kind! There is also the issue of the bugs. The have come out in what I guess could be said full force, although I think the drier weather is keeping the mosquito population at bay and the blackfly population also does not seem to be as bad as it can get.
We all were able to pick out suitable and flexible attire and headed up Hwy 41 to the Lac La Belle turn off. Then down to Lac La Belle and up the coast towards Smith Fisheries. The road seemed to be in slightly better shape than I remembered it and when we got to the parking area, there were more vehicles there than I have ever seen. Granted there were not dozens of vehicles, but probably 8-12 there and all the other times I have been out there, I have only seen 1-2 other vehicles.
Conditions for the hike in were nearly ideal. It was a little chillier down by the lake than it was inland, but still very comfortable and all of the jackets remained in the backpack or around our waists. We had brought bug dope, but were fortunate enough to not even need that. I would consider that a minor miracle, as I thought that the blackflys would be horrible out there.
One of the neat things about the falls at the mouth of the Montreal is that they run pretty hard all year long. I have been there in late summer, which is typically the time of the year that the river levels are at their lowest and there is still enough flowing that you cannot cross. I also have never been there during the peak water level period during the spring melt, but hope to be able to some day. However, it gets complicated as the snow hangs around on the road and trail in, so the best way would be to get there via boat.
It’s probably about a mile hike from the parking area to the falls, but about 1/8th of a mile into the hike, you are treated to a vista of the falls and also can hear its muted thunder. That is always a fun little pick me up to get you excited to get there. Then, once you are within around 1/8th to 1/4 mile away from the falls, the sound of them becomes very clear and you can see the current from the river going out into the lake. We were treated to all of that on our hike in and when we arrived, we were treated to a pretty healthy river flowing over the rocks to the big lake.
Gracie was in total awe of the place. She is a very happy and inquisitive person by nature and loves to explore- much like here mom and dad. So she had a blast checking out all the different areas of the falls. There are numerous levels of falls at that spot and the falls in their entirety go on for about 120-150 yards, so there is lots to explore! That is the exact thing I loved to do as a kid, so I let her have all the time she wanted. I honestly do not know who had more fun, her doing the exploring, or me tagging along with her and watching her have all that fun!
We spent probably close to an hour out there and decided to make the hike back to the truck and head home, as it was already around 4 in the afternoon and the total trip with hiking and driving combined is around an hour and a half. Before leaving though, I did perch myself in a spot where I could see most of the falls and took a panoramic picture of them for you all. In case you were wondering, that was not a black bear watching the couple fish, but rather their black lab. Although I was sure tempted to try and pull a fast one and say it was a bear!
I guess that about covers it for this one. We sure are in summer full swing and it feels good!
Good night from the Keweenaw..