forest

#hike20 - Tahquamenon Falls State Park

View from the paved path to the viewing deck

Date: June 14, 2018

Location: Tahquamenon Falls State Park - Paradise, MI

Distance: 4.3 miles

Trails: River Trail

Tahquamenon (like phenomenon) Falls is located in the Eastern portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and one of the most beautiful places in the state.  It is known to attract plenty of tourists, but we went early enough to avoid them!  My other half, my mom's other half, and I took off around 6 am and made the 2.5 hour drive up to the state park.  The mosquitoes were immediately thick and it was not looking good from an enjoyment perspective, but we had bug spray and hoped for the best.

We set out on the paved portion and made our way to the viewing area at the Upper Falls.  There are 96 steps down to the viewing platform, all worth it.  Between the car and the falls, a bird pooped on me, or I put my hand in bird poop on a railing, or some other situation in which my hand/arm came in contact with bird poop, so that was a good time and made everyone laugh and distracted from the mosquitoes everywhere for a second.

View of the Upper Falls and river from the viewing platform.

Back up the 96 steps we went and headed towards the dirt path that led to the Lower Falls.  It started up on a ridge, with the river below and the trees thick.  We met one family along the way, and they didn't really seem to be bothered by the mosquitoes.  The bugs didn't start out too bad on the upper part of the trail, but the second we descended to the river level, we were eaten alive.  In my 33 years on this Earth, I have never experienced mosquitoes THIS bad.  We probably made it a third of the way to the Lower Falls and decided to turn around because it just wasn't enjoyable.  I was a little disappointed, but ultimately wasn't enjoying the hike enough to continue.  My goal of 10 miles was missed and I settled on 4, but distance isn't always everything.  In just 4 miles, in and out, I saw plenty of nature's splendor to be satisfied.  We had some laughs and I'd definitely return during the fall or winter to do the path.

This hike revitalized my desire to be outside, invigorated my senses, and reminded me that it's not about the distance but overall enjoyment.  I've scheduled a bunch of hikes in my calendar for upcoming weekends to keep me motivated.  If anyone is interested in tagging along, feel free to contact me!  Happy trails.

An Iris and a view of the Tahquamenon River

#hike13 - Olympic National Park (the coast)

Date: March 31, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Washington

Distance: 9.3

Trails: Ozette Loop

I woke up as the morning became light, decided it was time, and made my way to the Ozette Ranger Station to park and get acquainted with the trail and area.  It was about 7:21 and I wanted to be done before noon, as I had planned to check out of my cabin by then.  Four-plus hours was plenty of time to complete 9 miles, even at a slow pace, but I was off in a hurry.  After about a half mile, I consciously calmed myself down and went a normal pace so I could enjoy all of the lush greenery and skunk cabbage blooms.  The Ozette Triangle, or Ozette Loop, is really two trails and a beach hike.  The two trails to/from the beach go through coastal forests, random clearings, swamps, and crosses creeks.  The paths are either soil in boxes, boardwalks, or dirt.  Elevation gain is minimal, until the end, but here are stairs and a rope for any necessary assistance making it acceptable for all types of hikers.

I remember stopping when I heard the first sign of waves - the ocean was near.  The air changed, my pace changed, I was smiling uncontrollably, and I was finally to the beach.  As I got closer, the beach smelled less fresh and more fishy, but what can you do?  Walking the beach from trail to trail had some obstacles such as large fallen trees, rocks, and tide pools.  I ran into a group of hikers who didn't have a map so we looked at mine and made friendly chatter.  It's nice to run into people with the same idea as you, wandering down the beach in search of the next trail.  I eventually left them in the dust, hike your own hike, but I did enjoy their company for a little while.

This hike was secluded enough and offered the most variety as far as terrain and plants of any over my weekend in the Olympic.  I hope you find your path and happy trails!