Sometimes you think you ask enough questions to be prepared for something, but then you find yourself knee deep in water precariously managing to walk over slimy rocks without a walking stick or a pair of polarized sunglasses and know that this definitely could be going better with just a tidge more preparation. But it also could have gone much worse, and not have the most magickal set of waterfalls at the end.
So despite having heard stories about the trek to Slate River Falls earlier in the week, and despite asking what I needed to bring to be prepared, when the gang went all in to do it again because it was just so beautiful, I couldn't help but think – this is not an easy hike. And here we were bringing 4 and 5 year olds along on it – who, in all honesty, did better than me. This hike, if it were in Washington State Park, would be considered advanced and labeled with many words and pictures depicting the dangerous rocks and water features awaiting you. In the Upper Peninsula, however, it is just a hike with a great reward at the end.
The reward being the beautiful view of the waterfall and the satisfaction that you made without breaking an ankle. There is something exhilarating about walking through a stream of swift moving crystal clean water, placing your feet carefully, and making slow but steady progress. The water is cool, keeping your body temperature low, and the water sound is so relaxing, keeping your mind focused on the task at hand. It is like physical exertion meditation.
The water pool at the top of the river or at the bottom of the falls is perfect for swimming, rock picking, and Bob the dog playing fetch (as you can see the picture above). You can also just sit and listen to the falls. In my mind, where I am building an Upper Peninsula tourism and family fun center empire, this trip would be a feature presentation to my campers. Meanwhile, the gold hunting adventurers would come up here with waterproof metal detectors and examine the area underneath the waterfall. Thar be gold in them thar hills! afterall.
Or you can just enjoy it for what it is. Beautiful. And a great place to pick rocks.
On our way out we encountered a family that was visiting from Northern Michigan Tech. All of them were wearing sweatshirts advertising their status as student of alumni and socks and sneakers. They said "Oh! that's smart, you all are wearing water shoes!" and then asked "Is there a waterfall up there?" We replied, "Yes, and you are going to have to cross the water a couple times to get there, so your shoes are going to get wet." They laughed and smiled and continued on their way. Just another day in paradise.
Speaking of beautiful, after everyone had packed up their campers and headed out back to their homes (it being the end of the holiday weekend) myself and my parents went out to see a few more water features, this time at a little less of an advanced hiking level.
This beauty is River Falls of River Falls River – located just outside the town of L'Anse. You don't even need water shoes to get there, but we were wearing ours, just in case.
Here are a couple other views of the River Falls River – this lovely runs fast a furious in the winter time taking out entire old growth trees in its wake. It is not water you want to mess with. We enjoyed our walk alongside it, taking in the beauty. My mother wanted me to see some other water features in town see went to Sand Point Beach or Squaw Beach as it is called by the locals.
It was a windy day and there were only two other souls out there, but it is a beautiful beach on Lake Superior. As we explored the beach we found the tribe built a beach wellness and education center next door to it that teaches you words in the Ojibwe language from counting to flowers, as well as a health and fitness regiment through walking. We stopped at the first station to learn that the number one is an 18 letter word.
For our final adventure for the day we drove up to Carla's on the Lake, where fresh fish is served daily with Carla's special seasoning. I didn't take a picture of my fresh caught lake trout but I did get a shot of this totem pole inside the restaurant. I noted, as my parents enjoyed it, that Carla's had a senior menu, but not a kids' menu. They smiled and said, "look around." I was definitely the only person qualifying for the normal menu in the restaurant except Carla.
It was a great dinner with a view of the big lake and another good day in the Upper Peninsula.