The Rules

hikingrulesThis sign was posted at the beginning of the Trail Between the Falls Sunday morning. That would be the Tahquamenon Falls in The Great Lake State’s upper peninsula, aka the Yooperland. Y’all knew that “Yooper” is now in the dictionary, right? (The Commander HATED the word Yooper.) Anyway, we have hiked the trail between the falls many a time and, on a normal Memorial Day weekend, that hike could easily fall into the list of conceivable possibilities of Things To Do. Although the bugs are often bad that weekend…

This particular MDW, we did not plan for such a hike. Why? Because we knew that the trail was closed due to extremely high water. It is a difficult trail by Great Lake State standards and I was really rather relieved to do a series of smaller trails on what turned out to be a hot sunny day. I love a good Death March but we don’t *always* have to do one.

So, let’s look at these rules…

Hikers should bring plenty of water and wear good shoes. I have hiked that trail plenty of times in horrible shoes. Not that Chaco sandals are horrible for hiking. They are very good but they do not provide a whole lot of protection from things like stubbed toes, etc. I persisted in wearing my Chacos for many years and I still love them but I now have a couple pairs of Keens, which are a bit more rugged. Probably my worst footwear choice EVER for that trail was a late fall hike after some snow had already fallen. The Commander did not “approve” of my chosen footwear (the trusty OLD snow boots that carried me warmly through the Polar Vortex this year) and convinced me to wear a VERY OLD pair of leather boots of hers. Big mistake. The Commander’s feet are a whole size bigger than mine and these boots did not fit and therefore kept pulling my socks down over my heels. The Comm was not a hiker and I knew better than to listen to her… Love you moom but I am having trouble letting go of that incident and many other footwear things…

There is no cell phone service along the trail. No, there is not. The nearest cell phone service is 10 miles away in Paradise, which now has the 4G / LTE. I am here to tell you that last 4th of July, Paradise had only a sliver of Edge service. By October, life had changed. In Paradise. Still, if you are at Tahquamenon Falls, you are in the wilderness. Those tourists you see everywhere using their phones and speaking in every language on earth except English? They are taking pictures. (And so am I.) (And I love hearing the different languages at Tahquamenon. It is a wonderful place to visit as is the yooperland in general. I just don’t remember when all of these lovely folks started showing up. They weren’t around when I was a beach urchin.)

The trail is 4.8 miles and features exposed roots, stairways, and difficult terrain. Yes, yes, and yes. I love this trail but it has to be the most-traveled section of the North Country Trail in the yooperland. It erodes quickly and it is extremely hard to maintain. I know a bare minimum about maintaining trails after hanging out with the HSS NCT Chapter, just enough to know how difficult it is.

You can also get to the upper falls by driving. Yes, you can. And we did, on Sunday. We did some small bits of strenuous hiking in the lower falls area but the Twins took the Frog Hopper to the upper falls and I got to ride with Sam and jcb in their Prius. Still, this is good advice and should be heeded by those who may not know what they are getting into attempting that trail.

The shuttle does not operate year-round. Check the schedule before starting your hike. I have never taken the shuttle. In fact, it is a new thing. It is a good thing. In the old days, you had no choice but to spot two cars or hike both directions. We often hike both directions and did that last July although we toyed with the idea of taking the shuttle back. In the end, we weren’t sure we wanted to hang around and wait for the shuttle, so we just hoofed it back. After lunch at the brewery… It was hotter than Hades that day and I actually got sweaty enough to take a dip in gitchee gumee when we got back to the moominbeach. Of course the shuttle is not operating this year (yet) because the trail is closed.

2 Responses to “The Rules”

  1. Jay Says:

    In my college days I once hiked up to the upper falls, but did not want to give another pint of blood to the mosquitoes, so we hitchhiked back to the lower falls. That is to say we wandered around the parking lot looking for a ride down with a nice family. Our legs were fine, it was our arms that were ready to drop off from swatting continuously.

  2. Margaret Says:

    I like hiking but HATE mosquitoes and would never assume I had cell service. Most people probably do though. 🙂