I was only a few months into my waterfall adventures in the summer of 2008 when I learned some distressing news. A dear friend of mine was leaving Houghton for the summer, someone I had hoped to spend a lot of time with and who meant a lot to me. At that time I was searching for some waterfalls in the general L'Anse area. The news drained my waterfall ambitions and I headed to a spot to clear my thoughts, a spot that I had considered visiting for some time. A small golf course south of L'Anse led over to a well-known hike up Little Mountain. Waterfalls had been my main focus for the last few months and I hoped that a change of scenery would be the refresh I needed.
Parking at the end of Golf Course Road I started down the well-marked path west. There were blue blazes on the trees in case I lost sight of the path, which only happened on a few of the more sudden turns. I walked quickly, almost as if I were walking away from the news, and the trail curved and climbed up the slope. The quiet woods, easy route, and steepening grade all worked together in an effort to simultanously tire and de-stress me. Before I knew it I was standing on a large, flat outcropping, catching my breath with an excellent view opening in front of me.
Settling down on the open rock I looked around at the panorama around me. A few small rises and tall trees hid most of L'Anse from me and only glimpses of Keweenaw Bay poked out in the northeast. Heavily forested hills rose up to the east. I couldn't make out the different peaks, but I'm sure that Mount Arvon and Curwood were located somehere in the deep green. The golf course I had passed by was hidden by the woods as well. Some clearings were visible to the south, most likely the result of clear cutting. It was easy to forget I was only a few miles from L'Anse. Letting the views and quiet in I forgot about the reasons I had climbed so fast up Little Mountain and just… was.
The sun was starting to set when I finally decided to return to the real world. Walking much slower I took some time to enjoy the path a bit more. Gnarled roots and smooth rocks covered parts of the path near the top of the mountain, with trees slowly growing in stature as I headed downhill. Thick leaves overhead and scattered undergrowth darkened the setting sun and cast strange shadows on the forest floor. Before I made it to my car tall ferns started to stretch out over the path, brushing me softly as I walked out of the woods. When I stepped on the road and back into reality all of the worry had left me. For as small and humble as Little Mountain is it was exactly where I needed to go that evening, and it was also the first place I took my friend when she returned the next fall.