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Category Archives: Au Sable Point Lighthouse

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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A shot of the lighthouse at the end of the trail.

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This week our trip of the fall was a little more extensive. Our destination was Munising, Michigan. Our drive took us through central Wisconsin on highway 29. There were spots of color and some nice color around Shawano, Wisconsin. From there we headed north to Escanaba, Michigan. There wasn’t a lot of color on this portion on the trip. We then headed north on highway 2 . The objective was to catch highway H13 through Hiawatha National forest into Wetmore, Michigan. Although the first day was a little disappointing things picked up on subsequent days.

I wanted to check out the colors in Hiawatha National Forest and see where the good color was for the next morning. Our first stop was at Pete’s Lake. As you can see the color was not at its peak but it looked like a possibility. However, I was very disappointed to see that they had logged in the park. Many of the beautiful trees that I loved to photograph had been cut down.

Pete’s Lake

We then stopped at Moccasin, Thornton, and Big Twin Lakes on the way into Wetmore. I was again very disappointed because the lakes were extremely low with lots of weeds and other debris showing. The colors were not up to previous years. Many of the birch were just turning brown rather than turning a bright yellow. By the end of the lake visits I decided than it was not worth a sunrise visit because I already had better photos of these lakes. This shot was from several years ago.

Thornton Lake

After checking into our motel and having a bite to eat we headed out to my favorite sunset location at Miners Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. About halfway to the beach we encountered road construction. The highway department had applied tar to one side of the road so traffic was one way. Normally in Wisconsin we apply tar with a pea gravel coating but apparently Michigan just uses tar. It wasn’t drying right so they were having to direct traffic on to a single lane. We continued on to Miners Beach. Elliott Falls was but a trickle and there was not a lot of color. The sunset wasn’t much but I took a few shots. We decided to leave early because of the road construction. The tar was still wet and they were still directing traffic after dark so I didn’t get any tar on the car.

Miners Beach

Given the lack of really good color around Munising we decided to drive over to Seney National Wildlife Area. On the way over there was fog in the low areas so I thought it might be interesting in Seney. I was right. There was a fog over most of the ponds. If you ever wondered how many spiders were around you got a good idea on this day. The heavy dew covered the spider webs and there were literally thousands of them glistening in the sun. Even many of the trees were covered in spider webs. Seney provided some great photography opportunities with the early morning fog. We also saw quite a few Trumpeter Swans, hawks, ducks and even a Blue Heron.

Trumpeter Swans

We then headed down highway 77 toward Grand Marais, Michigan with our eventual destination Au Sable Light Station. The trees along Highway 77 had some good color. In Grand Marais we checked out the work being done in the harbor. It is undergoing a major 30 million dollar renovation. They are in the process of dredging and rebuilding a  massive breakwater in the harbor. The new rock breakwater can be seen on the right.

Grand Marais Harbor

We headed out to Pictured Rocks with our first stop was the ranger station. As we drove into the parking lot we noticed a truck with a stunning photo on the door and Petersen Photography below it. When we went into the station Paul Peterson was talking with the rangers. Petersen was an Artist in Residence at Pictured Rocks.  Check out his website for some great photos. When we drove through Grand Marais we noticed a sign for the Lake Superior Brewing Company. My wife ask how the food was and it was given rave reviews for the food and beer. We decided it would be worth a visit later in the day.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

We drove on to the Hurricane River where the trail to Au Sable Light Station starts. We don’t walk the trail because walking the beach is much more interesting. The 1.5 mile walk is along a combination of beach and rocks. Depending upon the water levels and wave action you should have no problem hiking along the beach. Along the way there are a number of old ship wrecks that can be found. The first is not far from the Hurricane River parking lot and the others are just before the Light Station. This year the lake appeared to be low and the wrecks were more exposed than I had seen them in the past. It was a beautiful day for a walk and photography.

Ship Wreck

After the hike we decided to drive back to Grand Marais and have an early dinner at the Lake Superior Brewing Company. It was well worth the drive back to Grand Marais. The food and beer were as advertised with a nice variety of both. The only problem I had was there was too much food. I’ve been trying to lose a little weight and having a half pound olive hamburger with fries didn’t help.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Beach

After dinner we decided to drive back along highway H58 to Grand Marais. The colors were outstanding with the late evening backlighting. I suspect they will reach their peak around the first weekend in October. On the drive back we stopped at Kingston Plains in the Lake Superior State Forest to take a few photos. This area was repeatedly burned off during the logging era. It is speculated that the fires were so hot that it virtually sterilized the earth. Trees are growing now but it has been a long process of regeneration.

Kingston Plains

We expected to reach the Munising area around sunset and normally would have stopped at Miners Beach but decided that they were probably still working on the road and I didn’t want to risk getting my car covered with tar. Our second choice for sunset photos was Sand Point in Munising. As we drove past Munising Falls I noticed that the parking lot had recently been tarred. This should have raised some red flags but it didn’t. After a couple of miles we could see that they had traffic control setup and had tarred one side of the road. We decided to head back to the motel. Too bad because it looked like a nice sunset. This photo was taken at an earlier sunset.

Sand Point Sunset

On day three we planned to take the short drive over to Marquette, Michigan. We have never stayed in Marquette and wanted to check out the photography opportunities for a future visit. We stopped at Au train Falls and Laughing Whitefish Falls along the way. Laughing Whitefish Falls was outstanding in terms of fall color but there was not a lot of water going over the falls. The fall colors on the drive to Marquette were good and probably will peak the first weekend in October.

Laughing Whitefish Falls

Our first stop in Marquette was the visitors center. It was well worth the stop. The individual who helped us was one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic that I’ve ever met in a visitors center. He gave us all kinds of tips on where to go and what the fall colors would be like. So many tips that it would take a long weekend to take it all in. Since this was a reconnaissance mission we are now well informed for a for a much longer visit in the future.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

We drove out along Lakeshore Boulevard to check out the sites along the Marquette waterfront. It was a beautiful day for sightseeing and photography. The highlights of the waterfront were the ore docks and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. This looks like a great place for some sunrise photography.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad ore dock

We drove out of town to  Presque Isle Park and drove the loop. This is going to be well worth a longer visit. There is a location to take sunset photographs and that’s on our list for next time.

Presque Isle Park

We decided to head up to Big Bay which is about 30 miles up the coast. The visitors center recommended a number of stops along the way and we had already noted some nice hiking trails to waterfalls. One of the recommended stops along the way was Sugarloaf Mountain. When we arrived the parking lot was full and there were cars parked all along the road. This was definitely a hot spot on a beautiful fall day. The trail to the top was well developed and nice sturdy steps had been constructed. I heard someone say that there were 182 steps but I didn’t count them. We later found out there are 304 wooden steps. The view from the top was an outstanding 360 degree view and well worth the hike. As you can see the fall colors were nice but they should really be good the first weekend in October.

Sugarloaf Mountain

We drove on to Big Bay and decided to drive out to the Big Bay Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast but the grounds are open to the public from 10am to 4pm. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. What a beautiful location to enjoy the serenity of Lake superior. We then headed back to Marquette and after a late dinner called it a day.

Big Bay Lighthouse

On day four we headed down toward Bruce Crossing, Michigan. Our main destination for the day was Bond Falls. The colors were nice all the way to Bond Falls although there was quite a bit of fog along the first part of the trip. I told my wife we had to more it along because it would be crowded at the falls. She didn’t think very many people would be out on a Sunday morning. I thought there would and the bet was that we would see more than 30 people. Looser buys the ice cream.

Bond Falls

As it turned out I was right there were more than 30 people at the falls but not as many as I expected and I only saw three other serious photographers. I’ve made many visits to Bond Falls but this is the first time I’ve been able to visit at the peak of fall colors. Bond Falls is probably the most photographed waterfall in Michigan and for good reason. There is a lot to photograph and since the falls is below a dam the water levels are good even during this year’s drought.

Bond Falls Z

We then headed home after a very successful trip. The colors are nearing their peak all over northern Wisconsin and the U.P.

It’s always hard to pick out a favorite photo but I decided to go through my summer photos and pick out some interesting ones that I liked.

Seney Sunset

Sunset Photo – Without a doubt this was my favorite photo of the summer. It was taken in Seney National Wildlife Area in the U.P. of Michigan. My wife and I had taken a three day weekend to drive around the U.P.. Our plan was to stop at Seney to photograph the sunset. I didn’t hold out much hope that the sunset would be any good because we had not seen a single cloud all day. In addition, we had doddled along during the day and were late in arriving at Seney. Early in the evening a few clouds appeared in the western sky along with some contrails. The contrails mixed with the clouds to create this fantastic sunset. The image of an eagle in the sky really makes the photo.

Lower Falls

Waterfall Photo – This was taken at Amnicon Falls State Park. The park had received some rain so the water levels were fairly high and there was good color in the water from the tannin giving the water a root beer appearance. The water is flowing horizontally and the trees are vertical. The steps tie the two together.

Now-and-Then Falls

Black and White Photo – My favorite B&W photo was also taken at Amnicon Falls State Park. It is a photo of the base of Now and Then Falls. It gets its name because the falls only flows when the water levels are high. Water from the main stream flows off to the side and down this beautiful falls.

Tree Swallow

Bird Photo – This photo of a fledgling Tree Swallow was taken on my farm. I had been photographing them on the nest earlier in the week. He unexpectedly turned up at my bird feeder. This was definitely a first. He seemed very confused with all of the birds flying around the feeder and he was getting buzzed by some hummingbirds.

Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Building Photo – I typically don’t take photos of buildings but this was a shot taken on one of my favorite hikes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We love to hike along the lake shore to Au Sable Point Lighthouse. Hiking along the shore is a lot more interesting, a lot cooler and fewer bugs than hiking the inland trail.

Honey Bee

Insect Photo – This is a macro photo of a Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant. What I like is the fact that the milkweed plant is in two different stages of budding with different colors. The bee provides a transition between the two groups of buds.

Kayaker

Action Photo – Again I typically don’t photograph people but my wife and I decided to drive over to Wausau, Wisconsin to watch the Midwest Freestyle Kayak Championships. The event took place all day and offered various levels of competition. This Kayaker was in the process of doing a vertical roll.

Tiger Moth caterpillar

Studio Photo – When the weather is bad, no sun, rain, too much wind etc. I sometimes bring subjects into my studio to photograph them. On this particular day all three conditions existed. I was looking for flowers to photograph when I found this Tiger Moth Caterpillar crossing the road. I decided to borrow him for a short time and brought him into the studio.

Frog

Strangest Photo – This is a tree frog shot on my car windshield. It was taken on a drive through the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This was one of the strangest photography days I’ve ever had. I documented it in an earlier blog.  I was driving through the park when something landed on my windshield. It took a few minutes to figure out what it was. I finally found a spot to pull over and remove him from the windshield. I took his photo before I did.

Flower Photo – My favorite flower photo is also my favorite flower to photograph during the spring, summer and fall. It is a common flower in the dairy state and is the alfalfa bloom. As long as you cut the alfalfa you will get blooms from early June into the fall.

More photos can be found on my Website.