Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vacation Day 7, July 5, Preque Isle River Falls Hike

Monday, July 5, 2010, Presque Isle River Gorge and Falls

Partly cloudy, warm and humid. Birds singing. Quiet but for the
occasional slamming of car or bathroom doors. No wind. We can hear
someone pouring dry cereal into a bowl. It seems very peaceful here.

Keith is going to get fresh water while Mary watches the stove which
us heating water for Keith's coffee. The water pump is down a trail
in the woods and is an old-fashioned hand pump that Keith says
requires about 60 pounds of pressure. He takes off his wedding ring
to operate it. Mary remembers pumping water at least once last time
we were here. Watching the old Coleman stove that used to belong to
Mary's parents means pumping it up every few minutes.

But the stove goes out even with pumping and when k returns, he adds
more gasoline. We have out usual breakfast. Mary has oatmeal and
vitamins; Keith has Graham crackers and coffee. We clean up and sit
and enjoy the silent forest, silent but for the soft sounds of daytime

We discussed how many days we were staying here and how we would
arrange the return trip but failed to make any decisions except that
Keith would shop and Mary would stay behind because of her pain. Just
as Keith was getting ready to go, Mary had a pain emergency and k
drove off without saying goodbye, something m was hoping to avoid
having happened. He also had her pain meds with him in the car. :-(

Mary crawled into the tent and retrieved her cell phone from the
pocket of her shorts (she has to wear long pants here because of all
the stable flies and other biting insects), so she could call Keith to
bring back the pain meds before he got too far, but there was no
service. So now, for two or more hours, Mary will have one story and
Keith another. Mary's story will contain more pain than she would

Keith has been reading a book, but Mary, who so far has been the one
recording the story, can only say it is a black book. She will have
to remember to ask. On past trips, both of us have worked on the trip
journal. But since it is on the iPad and since Keith has been doing
most of the driving, fire building and water fetching, he has yet to
edit and add his portion of the story. Keith also took the backpack.
He took neither the pain meds, nor the backpack on purpose, we just
use the car for storage and of course, he needed it to get groceries.
Mary thought she might pack up a few things and move down by the water
to read, write and paint while he was away.

The breeze blowing over the campsite carries the smell of fresh wood
smoke, light enough to be pleasant rather than burdensome. Sun
filters down through the thick canopy of leaves, causing sunny spots
in the ferns and ground cover. A few insects buzz by. The
mosquitoes, knock on wood, seem to have diminished and for the moment,
even the stable flies have calmed down. Quiet distant voices, the
high voice of a child, the lower voice of an answering adult, drift
through the trees. An occasional axe sound, but mainly birdsong.
Mary sits very still in her chair, trying not to exacerbate her pain.
She listens and waits.

To occupy herself without moving (because of the pain), Mary reads a
chapter in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and a chapter in Winnie
the Pooh; both books reside in the iPad.

She watches the man who comes to clean the pit toilets walk in with a
long pincher to pinch out things people have thrown in that will clog
the pumps. It would be good if those people were made to fish the
soda cans and bottles and diapers etc out themselves a few times, so
that they would not be so inconsiderate. Mary feels bad for the
guy--the insides of the lower parts of the pit toilets are really
gross!! Now he walks in with rolls of paper towels (for cleaning) and
toilet paper (to install). Mary has worked as a maintenance person
and has had to clean bathrooms (though not for many years) and feels
sympathetic toward the plight of the worker. Mary occupies herself
watching him carry things in and out and do his job. She wonders if
he's a "Yooper."

Mary is cold. She puts on her red corduroy jacket (An LL Bean jacket,
from Sara), but is still cold. Her hat and coat are in the car. She
would walk, maybe warm up, but the workers is still cleaning the
potties, and she would like to pee before she walks. She reads four
poems from Winter Morning Walks, by Ted Kooser. All the poems are
nice, particularly some of them. Here is the poem she likes best so

November 22

Sunny and cool, thin clouds

In his drab gray overcoat,
Unbuttoned and flying out behind,
a stocky bullet-headed owl
with dirty claws and thick wrists
slowly flaps home
from working the night shift.
He is so tired he has forgotten
his lunchbox, his pay stub.
He will not be able to sleep
in his empty apartment
what with the neighboring blackbird
flying into his face,
but will stay awake all morning,
round-shouldered and glassy-eyed,
composing a poem about
paradise, perfectly woven
of mouse bones and moist pieces of fur.

What a cool poem and a propos to Wesley the owl. Super!

Keith came home sooner than Mary expected him. He said the store did
not have a very good selection of vegetables. He got some "ehn"
mushrooms and some ground round, pork chops and t-bone steaks.

They were demolishing a very large building in the town of Wakefield,
which had behind it another large building with a collapsed roof that
looked like it might have been in a fire, and he stopped briefly to
check out a peculiar building on the outskirts of town, some sort of
trestle-like building, but he couldn't determine what it was. He got
gasoline and poked around in the store and got ice. Some enthusiastic
young man was helping him with his cart and ice. The man said for 75
cents, you could get 5 minutes of water for a shower nearby.

Keith is reading his book in the shade in a T-shirt and Mary is still
cold with her jacket on and keeps moving into the sun. Mary read a
chapter in Wesley the owl. Keith's reading Blasphemy, by Preston and
Childs. (Mary read that.)

We spent the entire afternoon hiking the Presque Isle River gorge,
starting at the upper bridge and hiking down to cross at the lower
bridge and the hiking back up the other side. There are three main in
waterfalls, all of which have Ojibwa names, as well as other smaller
falls, cliffs, rock formations, potholes, wide and narrow gorges, and
lots of lovely ferns and wildflowers. Of course, we took a bejillion
picture of everything, including each other.

One of Mary's favorite parts of the whole trip was one the way back,
when she took off her shoes, socks, jeans, overshirt and sat for a
long time with her feet and legs in the root beer colored Jacuzzi
under one of the falls. She would have liked to submerge her whole
self, but the water current was very strong. The fast moving water,
full of bubbles, was very refreshing and felt good. We'd gotten all
sweatified walking. There was also periodic mist from the falls that
was cooling. Mary had fun watching and popping the big bubbles that
formed from the little underwater ones.

Of course we loved the many different vistas of the river, the gorge
and the falls. And we loved the wildflowers. We saw musk mallow,
fireweed, blue bells, wintergreen, flowering raspberry, honeysuckle,
ox-eye daisies, pyrola, and many others and LOTS and LOTS of mushrooms
and fungi of many varieties including fly agaric (Amanita muscaria),
artists conch, varnish shell, and tons of others. Keith says, "We saw
a whole lot of cute yellow mushrooms in various stages of growth,
decline and fall."

Another thing Mary really LOVED about the walk is the further she
walked, the better she felt--her pain issues subsided while walking.
We did a lot of scrambling up and down steep hills and climbing over
things, which seemed impossible, but worked out fine.

Now we are back at camp and Keith is cooking dinner. Hamburgers and
veggie stir-fry. Mary cut up the veggies, Keith made the hamburgers,
chopped the wood and started the fire, Mary will wash the dishes.
After dinner, potato chips, beer and books. Some one, some the other.

When the dishes are done, the fogies sit together in their folding
chairs and read. Keith reads Blasphemy and Mary reads Winnie the
Pooh, Pride and prejudice, Wesley the Owl, and Winter Morning Walks.
We rarely speak, but occasionally look up and smile at each other. It
rains very lightly and we go on reading. It stops raining and we read
some more. It gradually gets darker and we keep reading. When we
stop at a chapter break, we hear the soft sounds of other campers
talking and the crackling of their fires. Our own fire has died away
to coals.

We're still operation on EDST, but we've crossed into a new time zone,
CDST, and it is staying light alarmingly late. We walk over to see a
pale pink sunset in little ribbons among the vast grey of cloud and
lake. When we return from sunset viewing, we batten hatches, Keith
reads to Mary from Kitchen God's Wife, and we retire for the night.

Mary's pain issues were worse than normal in the morning and better
than normal in the late afternoon and evening.

Nawadaha is the lowest falls at the mouth of the Presque Isle. The
next two up are Manido and Manabezho. Actually, it's the other way
around. Manabezho is the lowest falls, and also the biggest, (not
counting the smaller falls in the narrow gorge), and Nawadaha is the
upper falls, and somewhat smaller by still impressive and step like.

Click images to view larger. See two more shots from this hike here.

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