Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hiking Pictured Rocks - Part 3: The Cliffs

Look at this.  Here is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore captured in a single picture.  This is why I hike.

Pictures will do the heavy lifting in this report, but even pictures can't capture the feeling that walking through this scenery evokes.  It's the joy of 'just being' when being is selfless.  Then it's the sense of awe that follows when you realize that your being has been blessed to experience such joy.  Maybe ... just maybe ... its the feeling that God had at the end of the Sixth Day.

Pictured Rocks is one of those destinations that busy people from all corners of the country seek out; and if they like to hike, this is one of those hikes that a multi-faceted family vacation can be built around.

The view above is of Grand Portal Point, the most inspiring view of the day.  But it was far from the only one. The fifteen miles I hiked today held perhaps the most concentrated scenic splendor of any fifteen miles of continuous trail I've ever hiked.  It's the Bright Angel Trail into Grand Canyon with lots less vertical relief.  It's the hike from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point with lots more water.

Some say the best way to see these cliffs, which Mother Nature has 'Pictured' with its vibrant color palate, is by way of all that water.

Giant tour boat ferries armchair spectators along the spectacular shoreline

Perhaps, but the only way to get the views in this report is to hike the North Country Trail, and these views were not too shabby.  Truth is, to get the full experience, it's well worth doing both.  I'd love to come back and join a guided Kayak expedition like this.

I watched this group disembark from their support boat at Miner's Beach about 9AM.  They basically followed me all morning.
Tour leader in the red kayak watched as each pair of clients passed through this tiny cave at the base of Grand Portal Point.  You can see it to the right of the big arch in the photo above
They paddled all the way to Castle Rock then got loaded back on their support boat and headed home in time for lunch.

But not on this visit.  I'm passing through on foot, with many more places to go before cold weather sets in.  So it was just the views from above for me, with a couple exceptions where the trail came down to the water.

Petit Portal, view from the west.
And from the east.  Both of these views required a telephoto lens.  Without question this iconic feature is one that is best experienced from the water. 
Spray Falls.  Here, too, for an interactive experience, the approach by boat works better.  In this shot there's a gravity-defying tree that kind of steals the show, though.
A much more intimate cascade, at the end of Miner's Beach, equally accessible by foot or by kayak.
Same is true for Castle Rock, at least for this view from the beach.  There's a cascade just to the right of this scene that kids were crawling all around, and trying to use as a water slide.  The amazing tree growing on the top provides more interest than the rock itself, as far as I'm concerned.
The secret to the tree's health is that it had sent roots to the 'mainland' apparently in days before erosion separated it.
Emerging from the emerald waters, secret coves and overhangs were common
and grand buttresses abounded
But Hat number 62 was much more interested in the way this giant 'shroom hung from its tree near the Miners Castle overlook.
The day started at Miner's Castle
I got to do a little beach walking at nearby Miner's Beach
and my day ended as the cliffs gradually dwindled and finally gave way to Twelve Mile Beach, seen in the distance in this view

Here's the interactive GPS Track of this special day of hiking.  Zoom in and enjoy the bird's-eye view.

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