Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hiking the Lists #1: Au Sable Lighthouse

Hike: #1
Title: Au Sable Lighthouse
Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Hike list: U.P. Michigan
Difficulty: Easy
Duration of Hike: A couple leisurely hours

It started with a book I bought in the Fall of 2010 titled 50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains, by Johnny Molloy. Once I had read a few entries in the book, I decided I would start keeping track of them all, hopefully at some point finishing them. I didn't get all of them in when I lived in Chattanooga, but I did get several (and got another couple later on).

Now it's 2013, and I still have that book to complete. However, those 50 hikes have been joined by 160 more from three different books in the same series. There are 60 hikes in Wisconsin, and 50 each for the Upper and Lower Peninsulas in Michigan. In addition, I have a big book of Illinois day hikes, which isn't part of that series, but is still a worthy book to go through and check off hikes.

Every so often, I'll be sharing my adventures following the trails from these books. For hikes that I've yet to hike, I will share those tales shortly after I check them off. For the many I've already hiked, well, that's what off weeks are for. We start today with the mostly easy, yet scenic, out and back along the North Country trail to the Au Sable Lighthouse.

Save for a nerve-wracking (at least for me) descent down sandy stairs, and a few tricky sandstone outcroppings on the beach, this wasn't the most challenging trail. However, it had plenty of great views of Lake Superior, shipwrecks, and the lighthouse on Au Sable point. The walk was mostly level along both the beach and the trail, and the trail footing was mostly gravel, as it is also the access road to the lighthouse.

Although I just walked this about a month ago, this is actually the first one of these hikes that I ever walked. You see, this was one of the walks my family and I took when we went to the U.P. in the 1990s. I remember the lighthouse and the shipwrecks, but I didn't remember having to climb over small rocks and a few sandstone outcroppings out on the beach. We must have only walked along part of the beach, as there are few real ways to access the beach from the trail.

All in all, it was a perfect day to be out there. The sun was shining, and the lake and the sky were beautiful shades of blue. It wasn't cold, but it wasn't hot either. The only part that wasn't really enjoyable was walking down the "stairs" from the lighthouse to the beach. The stairs were basically waterbars across the sandy hillside. The wooden bars were not really conducive to standing upon, and when you stepped in the sand behind them, it would shift down the hill. If you weren't careful where you put your feet, they could get trapped under the bar. Not wanting to hurt myself, I was extra careful on this part.

Considerably more fun were the parts of the beach that weren't sand. Although I had to be careful that I didn't turn a knee or ankle on them, it was kind of fun making my way through the small and medium sized rocks found at several points. It was also a nice challenge figuring out the best way across a sandstone outcropping, which eventually resulted in me having to get my feet a bit wet in the cold waters of Lake Superior.

I imagine there are times when the place is pretty busy (although I doubt it is ever as busy as Miner's Castle), but that day was not one of them. Except for a family that arrived as I was heading down to the beach, I had the lighthouse area to myself. Walking back along the beach I only met one group of people.

It wasn't the longest (although definitely not the shortest) hike from these lists, and it wasn't arduous, but it was a good way to stretch my legs, and the views (at least at the lighthouse and along the beach) were well worth it.

No comments :

Post a Comment