Fall Color Tour 2004

Overnight Camping Trip, Oct 11-12, 2004

I woke up Monday morning and saw that there was no wind in the weather forecast for the next few days.  This meant that I would not miss any kitesurfing if I went up north for a quick camping trip.  So I drove up to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness Monday afternoon, very excited to sleep out at the finest campsite in the midwest (in my opinion). 

Now, this takes some doing.  It's about 300 miles from Milwaukee to the Sturgeon River Gorge in the middle of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  The last hour of driving is through a maze of unimproved and largely unmarked logging trails, very nerve wracking if you are not used to it.  I got a late start out of Milwaukee and ended up driving through the forest alone in total darkness.  After getting quite lost I had to stop and get a GPS fix to figure out where I was.  It was about 8:30 when I finally arrived at the trailhead.  From here it was only about a 30 minute hike to my planned campsite overlooking the lower Sturgeon Falls.  The trail was hard to make out with my flashlight, so I took my time descending into the 250-foot deep gorge.  Fortunately the falls can be heard for at least a mile away and navigation was thus made easier.


This is the "Bear's Den Overlook", a spot along the Eastern ridge of the Sturgeon Gorge about 1 mile upriver from the Falls.  You can see just a snippet of the river at the bottom of the picture.  I did not see a car or a person the entire time I was in the wilderness, and the campsite looked like it had not been used for many weeks.


Here is my campsite, just above the falls on the East side of the Sturgeon River.  I arrived in total darkness and it took me forever to get a fire going.  I slept without a tent in order to get the "authentic outdoor experience."  I also really froze my butt off.


This is the view upriver from my campsite.  The main falls are just to the right, downriver about 200 feet.

 

Here are the Sturgeon Falls as seen from the bottom.  The falls are formed by an erosion-resistant ridge of basalt.  I was still pretty darn cold when I snapped this picture in the morning.

 
Here is Agate Falls, on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River.  I detoured slightly on the way home to see these falls.  The total drop is 80 feet! 


Here is Bond Falls, maybe 15-20 miles upriver from Agate Falls.  There are a series of drops totalling 60 feet.


This is the Menominee River as seen from Niagara, WI, along hwy 141 on the way home.


An old steam engine from a sawmill in Trout Creek, MI.  Built by Allis Chalmers in 1912, this model develops 500 hp and was in use until 1968.

It felt great to spend a couple days out of the city and soak up some quality scenery.  Send me an email if you would like information on getting to the Sturgeon River Gorge.

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