When visiting the Ironwood, Michigan area in the fall I love to drive down to the Black River Harbor to photograph the fall reflections in the water. These were taken on previous visits.
This year it was difficult to photograph the reflections because the fall colors were a couple of weeks behind normal and there was so much water running in the river that it created a lot of foam. As a result I spent most of my time photographing the foam patterns as the foam floated down the river.
The last flower to bloom in the fall is the New England Asters. It is often possible to find bees clinging to the asters on a cold fall morning.
Opening of the milkweed seed pods are a sure sign of fall on the farm.
The leaves were just starting to turn color when we made an early fall visit to Bond Falls. It was a rainy day so we didn’t stay long.
Bond falls lends itself to black and white photography so I took a few black and white photos of the waterfalls.
It’s been a while since we last visited Canyon Falls. We were driving through the UP and decided to stop since the leaves in this area were already turning.
After spending some time at Au Train Falls we drove down through Au Train to Au Train Beach on Lake Superior. I managed to take a few shots while my wife was trying to find the Packer game on the radio.
Au Train Falls is a popular photography location near Au Train, Michigan. In the past this was the primary photography location for shooting the falls.
Au Train Falls
As we were leaving the Falls a worker at the power station mentioned that there were quite a few other falls up river from the main falls. After searching for a bit we found a trail down to the river. If you can get over the steep sides of the cliffs you will find a number of spring flowing out of the cliffs creating beautiful little waterfalls. You can also reach them by walking up the river.
The Kingston plains is located just outside Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the central UP of Michigan. It was logged in the late 1800’s and then burned. The fire was so hot the soil was sterilized and nothing grew there for years. Only the stumps remained. This is what it looks like today.
The shoreline at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has change dramatically in the last few years. One of our favorite hikes is along the shoreline from Hurricane River to Au Sable Lighthouse. In the past this has largely been a nice walk along a wide sand beach as seen in this 20012 photo.
We noticed a change where the Hurricane River enters Lake Superior. In past years it flowed directly into the Lake. Now it makes a sharp right with a sandbar between the River and the Lake. It did provide an opportunity for some nice rock shots
We were really surprised this year when we found the sand beach had disappeared. In some cases the water was next to the cliffs and in other cases there was a narrow rock beach. It did provide for some nice shots of the rocks in the water.
It is no longer possible to take a leisurely stroll along the beach. We had to walk most of the way on along a road at the top of the cliffs. The lake levels are up several feet putting the beautiful sand beaches mostly underwater or replaced by rock beaches. Many of the shipwrecks that were barely sticking up along the shoreline have been pushed up onto the rocky shore. The first shot was taken in 2012 and the second shot this year.
A shot of the lighthouse at the end of the trail.
Our destination for the first fall tour of the year was a train tour to Agawa Canyon. It was a bit early for the fall colors but the best times had already been booked when we started looking. Best to book really early if you want the prime times. The train leaves from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario located right next to the Walmart.
We arrived in the evening the day before to pick up our tickets. Turned out to be a good decision for a couple of reasons. There was a long delay at the border crossing. We joked that folks were already heading for Canada because of the election in the U.S.. It was a wise decision to stay on the Canadian side because the train leaves early in the morning. The second reason was because the ticket office was a zoo in the morning with everyone wanting to pick up their tickets.
With a little help we found the right train car. The train was full and tickets are for a particular car not a particular seat. I had tried to figure out which side of the train to sit on for the best photography but couldn’t find any hints. We finally decided to sit on the right side of the train with a nice view out the window. As it turned out the windows don’t open so all photography is through the window. Early in the morning folks on the right side of the train have the sun in their eyes. Probably the best strategy is to sit on the left side of the train on the way to Agawa Canyon then try and switch seats with someone on the other side of the train coming back. If that’s not possible I think the best views are from the right side of the train.
The train has television monitors throughout the cars and they provide some great videos on Sault Ste. Marie and the areas the train travels through. When the videos are not running they switch to a live view of the tracks taken from the engine. This helps with photography because you can see if there is anything to take a photo of. Most of the trip is through the woods so the only time you can take photos is when you pass a lake and have an unobstructed view across the lake.
Unfortunately it is difficult to hear the videos for several reasons. We happened to be in a car with some out of control kids. I though there were four of them but it turned out to be only two. After about a third of the way through the outbound trip the parents finally got them to settle down. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the two old couples sitting behind us. They started talking as soon as they got on the train and didn’t stop the entire 9 hour trip. It felt like listening to Seinfeld because the conversation was all about nothing. One of them had a grating voice and he just couldn’t shut up. When the videos came on they just started talking louder. I think they only mentioned something about the train trip twice on the whole trip. I’m still puzzled as to why they were on the train. If you want to hear the audio to go with the video you should sit as close to the monitors as possible.
Food and drinks are sold on the train but as you can imagine at a hefty price. As I recall the box lunch was $16. One thing to keep in mind is that most of the restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie and the train treat the US dollar the same as the Canadian dollar. In other words the Americans are really getting ripped off. The train does not accept credit cards so if you don’t have Canadian money you pay a premium for everything.
When you reach Agawa Canyon the train stops for an hour and a half. There is a hike to the top of the Canyon and several hikes to waterfalls. Unfortunately an hour and a half doesn’t really allow most folks to take in all of the sites. They operators should probably allow two hours at the Canyon. There was not much color in the Canyon so we decided to do the waterfalls first. We then decided to walk up the canyon wall. We made it about half way up before we decided we might run out of time and turned back.
Unfortunately the ambiance at the Canyon stop was marred by smokers. There was no smoking allowed on the train and as the train pulled in it was announcement that folks should refrain from smoking in the Canyon. As soon as the train stopped the smokers pulled out their cigarettes and it was impossible to walk around the picnic area without walking through a cloud of smoke. This was truly disgusting and upsetting to the non-smokers.
We picked a beautiful warm sunny fall day and the scenery was outstanding. The trip is over 9 hours so be prepared for a long day. There was quite a bit of color but it is probably best to plan ahead and seclude the trip around the first week of October.