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www.mybaycity.com October 21, 2012
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Lake Superior Area - Fall Color Tour

Rainy conditions provide an unexpected brilliance

October 21, 2012       Leave a Comment
By: John Keuvelaar

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As too often is the case, weather can affect even the best of plans. Such was the case with this year's family color tour. So join us as we traveled on a rainy weekend north to enjoy the beauty and splendor that makes Michigan so worth living in.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Having enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather conditions last year, we vowed to return to the UP and spend the night along the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline at 12 Mile Beach. Pictures of heavy snow having fallen early in the week and 90 percent rain forecast for Saturday's journey had us worried. Determined, we packed for anything and headed out in the dark of the morning uncertain as to what we would encounter. Instead of spoiling a much anticipated trip, the wet of the rain brought out the brilliance of the colors in contrast to dark bark and walkways. The resulting experience left us with some of the best colors we have ever viewed.

By early morning, we had reached the scenic turnout just north of Gaylord. This area is full of poplars, maples and oaks which were perfect for wetting our color appetite. Looking over the western horizon, the dark storm clouds served to back drop the greens, yellows and reds that were being illuminated by the early morning glow of the sun as it fought through the cloudy conditions. Even though we were a week past peak color conditions, there was plenty of spectacular colors to view.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

We proceeded to our primary destination for the day, Tahquamenon Falls. Watching the radar which showed a huge storm hitting the entire Lower Peninsula, we continued with excitement and apprehension. Just south of Paradise, the wet pavement reinforced rainy conditions were still possible. But we also noticed how bright the yellows were. Turning west at Paradise, our excitement turned almost giddy as the yellows lined the road and appeared to glow they were so bright.

Having reached the Upper Tahquamenon Falls parking lot, the tall trees surrounded you with glimmering yellows, reds, brown accents and the greens of the pines. We immediately knew the rain we had feared was offering us an even more spectacular view of what makes autumn so wonderful.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

For those who have never experienced the Tahquamenon Falls, you are greeted with rustic designed buildings and wooden decking for traversing between the buildings or grabbing a rocking chair by the open fireplace. More on that later.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

The trail to the falls is asphalt which when wet was almost jet black. This highlighted the colors along the path which when joined by the dark wet bark, gave that unexpected contrast that made us thankful for the rain. When you reach the river which flows below, you turn right for the falls and left for the trail to the lower falls. There is also a walkway down to the river for a below view of the falls.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

At any time of year, there is something majestic about the Tahquamenon Falls. But in the autumn, even the tannic water adds to the splendor as the brown needles of the green pines combined with the still remaining colors that lined the banks of the river. There are a couple overlooks before you actually reach the top of the falls and take the stairs down to the overlook next to the roaring cascading river.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

As breathtaking as this is, today the real splendor was along both the paved and natural foot trails. The almost florescent colors were so captivating; I've never seen them so brilliant. The forest floor glistened with the colors then gave way to the needles of the pines. Tree stumps were now sculptures of art and even the mushroom like fungus took on its own d├ęcor. We were literally overwhelmed with the beauty and it just made everyone we encountered so upbeat and friendly. Our golden retriever Mya ran around in glee as we snapped picture after picture.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Before long we realized that a heavy mist had begun and we headed back to the buildings and that open fireplace. Now Amy had to hit the gift shop which, I must say is one of the best I've encountered: unique tasteful gifts at reasonable prices. But that fireplace was a godsend. It quickly dried us off and warmed us up; just in time to head toward 12 Mile Beach.

Heading out of Grand Marais is M 58 which runs along the lakeshore eventually taking you to Munising. This is now completely paved and on this day, canopies of yellow covered the road as it twists and turns through the woods. We all were Ooing and Awing at every twist and turn.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Once reaching the campground, a level of calmness and serenity overcame us all. The richness of the colors coupled with the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior is just something you have to see and experience. While the thick cloud cover ruled out a much desired sunset and star gazing, it left more time to rock hound. And these shorelines are some of the best in the world. The cliffs offered the mixture of yellows and greens while the sand revealing the lines of how high the waters can push up the beach in stormy times. Today, the Lake offered gentle lapping of the waves which teased Mya but revealed incredibly unique designs and colors in the one to two inch diameter stones along the shore. For two hours we all walked, searched, gazed and occasionally sat to watch a passing freighter in the far distance.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

To cap off the night, we chose to skip a motel and instead pitched a tent and built a fire. Surprisingly, we were very comfortable as we dressed for it without being in a snow suit. The evening rain held off allowing us to all sit around the fire reflecting on the day's events.

The next morning we took one more journey along the path on top of the cliffs before descending to shore for one more gander at the rocks. All to soon we had to leave and as if on cue, the rains came.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

We could have looked at the forecast and skipped the whole trip. Thankfully, we took a gamble and were richly rewarded by the majestic splendor of the colors that would not have been so brilliant had it now been for the mist and rain. Unexpected pleasures can come from taking a chance on the weather.


(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

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John Keuvelaar

John Keuvelaar is a college student at Midwest Photography Workshops and Delta College.

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