One of my fondest memories of my years in Houghton, MI is the waterfall project of 2008-2009. Even though it took an actual project to get me to explore the beautiful wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, I really looked forward to my hours of wandering through the woods. After the epic adventures of those months, living in Appleton, WI sometimes seems bland. Now that I have a job and regular hours, it seems like the right time to start a new project and enjoy the wild outdoors of the Upper Peninsula again.
When I started to plan out this new project I had several possibilities. I could go back to waterfalls, expanding the radius west to the Porcupine Mountains and south to Wisconsin border. Another option would be to switch to other geologic features, like mountain peaks or lakes, and create a sister site to my waterfalls one to document my visits. However, I decided that numerous hikes would end up being a hassle, especially since these types of projects involve dozens of sub-mile-long hikes and lots of driving in between. Instead, I decided to limit myself to twenty adventures over the course of a year, with each adventure taking approximately one day to complete. This will allow me to drive up on Friday night, explore on Saturday, then drive back down and rest on Sunday before the work week.
I plan on most of the adventures being 15-20 miles long throughout the Western Upper Peninsula, but I don't want to limit myself to only hiking or to specific criteria. Here are a few examples of what kind of adventures I'm considering for this project...
My only experience this far out on Keweenaw Peninsula has been centered on Montreal Falls and Mt Houghton. I've always wanted to visit High Rock Bay, Horseshoe Harbor, and Keystone Bay, so I figured it would make sense to visit all of them at once. The hardest part will be cutting straight through the peninsula on the western edge of the loop, which will involve jumping from one logging road to the next. Surprisingly, this hike is less than twenty miles in length, even with the amount of terrain it covers.
The western Huron Mountains is one of my favorite hiking locations, but there are a few peaks I haven't been to yet. Also, I've always wanted to visit all five of the main peaks in that area in one day, and this hike covers that and more. This will be a more challenging adventure - there are more gorges and individual peaks involved then I care to count.
A familiar location, these two mountains rise up just north of Marquette and are covered with trails and signs to help out tourists. I hope to visit both of these on a single hike, and depending on the time of year and difficulty involved, maybe add a loop up to Harlow Lake and south to Wetmore Pond.
These three hikes are only the beginning. I already have close to a dozen in mind, including a loop around Mulligan Plains, a trek through the McCormick Tract, and a climb around the Trap Hills/Norwich area. Depending on my schedule, I might start as early as this winter, though I'm not a fan of snowshoes. Also, I'm still looking for ideas for hikes and ideas on how to document these adventures (add-on to the hiking map, separate website, video blog), so if anyone has suggestions, please let me know!