Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Canyon Falls, fall color, and a shocking scene-stealer

The sun, the morning dew, a spider's handiwork and ... a ... WHAT???

It's a reliable old proverb: "Expect the unexpected, because you're going to get it, and most likely when you *least* expect it."

Why do I never fully learn this lesson?  Today I started my hike in an ugly, recently-logged area.  I was more worried about keeping my socks dry as I picked my way through the dew-soaked foliage.  I didn't expect much of interest until I reached Canyon Falls well down the trail.  It's a popular destination because it's a ten minute hike from the highway, but I was approaching it from the back side, and would reach it after 14 miles of trail through Copper Country State Forest.  I've seen previous evidence that Michigan State Forests are heavily and frequently logged.  The Upper Peninsula is an area with few jobs.  The timber industry is a major employer.  So when I parked beside the trail at this logged-out area on Plains Road, I knew what to expect.

Or thought I did.

Every day I look for a chance to feature my hat of the day--try to get that item ticked off the to-do list early.  So when I saw a dead, decapitated tree with a blue blaze amid this trashed former-forest, I thought: "Well, there's some fall color here, so lets fashion a shot with Hat 78 and it might make a half-decent photo."

It was with that attitude that I began taking photos of some of the little things, such as the way the sunlight made the bowl-and-doily spider webs sparkle.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to try to document the complex structure of these little masterpieces, and it was while doing that (shooting the headline photo) that I suddenly got gob-smacked by what I saw hanging on a branch right behind my subject.

Surprise!  The little guy was out early, catching the morning sun, trying to warm up.

Suddenly my mood shifted 180 degrees.  I looked for more 'good' in this logged out landscape.  I watched a flock of ducks circle this wetland three full times before concluding that there were no predators (and, perhaps, that I was not a threat) before they all made a clean landing on the open water out of view to the right.

Another boggy area was lined with some spectacular red maples displaying this species amazing variety of fall color.

A lone red maple, not worthy of the chainsaw, stood proud amidst the destruction, gilded in its fall finery.

And the moist fall weather was still fostering new mushrooms.

Babies are always the cutest.

Finally I reached the advertised attraction for the day - Canyon Falls on the Sturgeon River.  This is the falls.

This is the canyon.

And here is a wide shot of the falls with the canyon it has carved.

So a day that I thought was going to be a "one trick pony" turned out to be a full three-ring circus show, worthy of any big top. 

Love them 'old proverbs.'

Here's the GPS track for today's long hike in interactive form.  Zoom in on any particular area for a closer look.  Note the appearance of the 'forest' in the western two-thirds of the hike, all in the State Forest.

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  1. Canyon Falls, in the Grand Canyon of the UP!

  2. I just stumbled on your blog after returning from the UP and a visit to Canyon Falls. Thank you so much for the great hiking reports. That trip to Yellowknife was EPIC!