Thursday, September 7, 2017

What I saw on the trail to Marquette

This Monarch butterfly is feeding on the seriously invasive Spotted Knapweed, a native of Eastern Europe that is displacing native species across much of the USA and Canada.  It is an especially serious threat to native grasslands, but seeing the Monarch feeding on it seems a sign of the insect's adaptability to this new reality.  I'll take *that* as a good sign.

Two more days of hiking took me to the Lakefront Welcome Center on the south/east side of Marquette--the largest population center on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

Downtown Marquette stretches across the horizon from the south-side power plant at left to Presque Isle on the right

The trail varied from remote woods to a rail trail wedged between Lake Superior and busy four-lane US 41.  The latter was the setting for the trail sign above and the encounter with the Monarch.  The former enticed me with some steep rugged hiking, a cliff, several waterfalls, and some mossy micro-landscapes.

Hat 65 posed with a cattail wetland.

Passing another wetland I spotted an example of the 'rainbow swamp-scum' phenomenon that Florida Trail Guide author Sandra Friend first introduced me to way down in the Florida Panhandle.

Meanwhile hat 66 sat on a wild rose bush sporting big red 'rose-hip-apples' beside one of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail's distinctive mile markers.

The North Country Trail shares the route of the IOHT for just a few miles of its total of 42, starting at its eastern terminus.  East of there the same abandoned rail bed continues to host the NCT, though there was a scenic diversion to pass beautiful, shallow, Lake LeVasseur.

Then back by the rail bed, I passed a rare hiker shelter provided by trail-enthusiast land-owner and junk-yard artist Tom Lakenen.

In my next report I'll be covering the hike along Marquette's waterfront with the help of not one, not two, but three of the hats in my rotation.  Meanwhile, here are the GPS tracks for the two days cover by this post.

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