Saturday, June 24, 2006

Monday, June 12

Originally, we had planned on spending Monday in Marquette, but the weather was predicted to be overcast and cloudy, so I insisted we postpone the Marquette trip until Tuesday and visit some waterfalls while the sun and shadows were not going to ruin my pictures. It was warming up considerably (upper 60s with a chance of breaching the low 70s), so I was able to finally dig out the shorts I brought with. B.E. was bundled up in multiple layers again.

The first waterfall was Au Train Falls.

The view down the road to Au Train Falls

As you walk down the road to the falls, there is a wall of rocks on the left that is hard to describe. It rises about 10 feet from the ground, and for about 25 feet or so, water trickles and runs down the rocks. The constant runoff here, though it is just a trickle, makes this wall of rock very wet and drippy, creating a perfect environment for moss, lichens and algae to grow all over the rocks. It gives the rocks a bugery look, which is quite entertaining to me. We named this the Wall of Ook, which B.E. says is named after a local Indian named Ook.

Close-up of the Wall of Ook

Just as I was really starting to enjoy the idea of my overcast and warm day, the stinking sun came out. All the clouds disappeared and the showers that were predicted for the day went away. I know I am about the only person on earth who hates the sun and cannot wait for the overcast days, but to yank one from my grasp is just mean! After that, my pictures were disappointing because of all the shadows and blinding light. Stupid sun!

This is an elongated view of the Wall of Ook, with the sun ruining the shot.

Length of the Wall of Ook

Au Train Falls are a series of shallow, yet wide falls that are controlled by the power company at a dam upstream.

Lower Au Train Falls

The shallow falls, the limestone and sandstone riverbed and the slowly flowing water are inviting to possible waders, but look at the layer of slimy and slippery gunk that covers the rocks. I would not chance it.

Green, ooky river rocks

As I was walking down the trail that is adjacent to the river, I saw a massive sandhill crane in the water ahead, who was spooked by my presence and flew away. Sandhill cranes are fairly common in the area, but their size and color always rattle me. They're gigantic birds which range from a dull grey color to a bright orange, depending on the amount of clay they've preened into their feathers. They are very cool creatures.

My trip to Au Train Falls was cut short because the bugs were really irritating me and I had to pee. I left B.E. and started wandering back up the road to my car. On the way to the car, I passed a man and woman with fishing gear, and the man said that I had missed out last month when there had been a lot of rain and the falls were so big and the roar so loud that nothing else could be heard. Darn it! These people walked down the trail where I left B.E. and he met up with them as they were fishing. As luck would have it, the woman fishing caught a beautiful northern pike, and B.E. was there to watch and photograph it.

Northern pike
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

On the road back to the car, as I wiggled my anti-pee-pee dance and fought off the mosquitoes, two swallowtail butterflies seemed to be following me. They let me get really close whenever they landed and I snapped a couple shots of them. What pretty insects!

Two swallowtail butterflies stalking me

I started to worry that B.E. fell into the river because it was taking him so long getting back to the car. I was also beating the bugs out of my car, where I was sitting and waiting for him. Bees, flies and mosquitoes were driving me insane, and I finally decided to walk back down to the falls to find my missing boyfriend. Thankfully, he was on his way up the road.

From there we went back home to use the bathroom. Guys have it easy and every time B.E. peed somewhere in the woods, I glared with jealousy. It's just not fair!

Next stop was Wagner Falls. The sun was still out and I was not happy about it (particularly because I left most of my filters at home, including my neutral density filter -- stupid me!) and the waterfalls would all be shining brightly in the sunlight, restricting me to taking shots with a fast shutter. Ugh. What's the point?

It was still pretty.

A smaller creek that joins Wagner Creek

Sunny Wagner Falls

Some of the areas where the water was in shadows, I was able to take some slower pictures.

Slow shutter rarity of water and rocks

Water and rocks at Wagner Falls

While we were at Wagner Falls, two photographers joined us on the boardwalk and we chatted about the places we'd been and about our cameras. It seemed we were all stopping to take the same pictures of the same scenes, so B.E. dubbed us all members of the Fern & Log Club.

B.E.'s contribution to the
Fern & Log Club
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

He also took this photo of a strange plant I'd never seen before. No idea what it is.

Alien-like plant
Photo taken by Boyfriend Extraordinaire

Waterfall Destination #3: Munising Falls.

This is one of my favorite places on earth. The height is amazing and the canyon is tremendous, considering it's right off of a well-traveled street, and buried only about 800 feet into the woods. The accessibility is what amazes me most. It's quite a sight considering how easy it is to get to.

With the sun setting behind us and the top of the waterfall burning bright in the sun, I was really disappointed with what I thought was going to be a bunch of burnt-out photos or poorly lit ones.

Munising Falls in the setting sunlight

Two of the mere four people we
encountered on this beautiful day

What isn't obvious in this journal or in the photos I'm publishing is the fact that we spent a minimum of an hour and a half at each waterfall area, often much more than that. There were few other people around and we tried to explore every inch of the area while being quiet enough to spot wildlife. Sometimes this pays off.

Setting sun reflecting the peach sandstone colors
of the canyon in the water below

Vibrant colors at the base of the falls
More peach water from the canyon reflection
Mini peach waterfall
Colorful waterfall base
As the light softened and the bending rays of the remaining sunlight hit the falls, the conditions did improve and the colors were quite beautiful.

Last shot of Munising Falls as the sun set

Despite the sun and the bugs, it was a stellar day in Munising.

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