Climbing up Bald Mountain

Climbing up Bald Mountain

Today’s outdoor adventure:  Climb a mountain.  Yes, I know we live in Michigan.  No, we don’t have the Rocky or Smoky Mountains nearby.  But we do have…the Huron Mountains!  And today was the perfect day to gather with seventeen friends and scale the rocks for a panoramic view of our beautiful landscape of Lake Superior and the forests of Baraga and Marquette counties.

The mountain of choice for this last weekend in May:  Bald Mountain.  The real Bald Mountain.  Locals have been climbing a smaller nearby hill for years and calling it Bald Mountain.  Who knows how the two peaks got confused.  But they did.  Whenever someone says, “We’re climbing Baldy” it usually means the closer shorter hill nearest to one of the logging roads after Big Erick’s Bridge. 

You simply can’t give directions to anyone about how to get there.  You can direct someone to Big Erick’s Bridge, but beyond that you need a local guide.  You follow two-tracks and then turn off onto grassy side roads and wander up among rocks until you reach the top.  Then you stare breathless and amazed and congratulate yourself on living in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  That’s what happens.

Beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain

Beautiful pond at the bottom of the mountain

About five vehicles caravaned out to the base of the mountain after meeting at our friends’ house.  After several of us tucked pants in socks and sprayed with lethal tick spray, we ventured upwards.  First, we passed a tranquil mountain beaver pond.  Beautiful, don’t you think?

Gorgeous wild Columbine

Gorgeous wild Columbine

Then we admired the columbines growing trail-side.  The stones jutting up along our path, over which we walked carefully, attempting not to trip. (OK, we tripped!)  The hardy blueberry plants with their bell-like white flowers.  The bright blue sky overhead.  What a wonderful afternoon to be out in nature, perhaps panting a bit as we aimed our steps higher toward the summit.

Can you see the Huron and Keweenaw Bays in the distance?

Can you see the Huron and Keweenaw Bays in the distance?

The highest point in Michigan, Mount Arvon, measures between 1,979 and 1,981 feet(depending on which on-line source you believe) and the mountains in the nearby Huron range have a few feet less altitude, but grander views.  Nonetheless, these hills are mountains in Michigan!  They are the oldest rock (granite) outcroppings in North America. Small ones, perhaps, but still towering crags over our rather flat state.

Years ago, four of us camped up in a nearby mountain with our six month baby boy and three dogs.  (One of the dogs was ours.)  My husband carried our baby in a front pack and we kept him safe zippered in our little tent.  What I remember most about the hike was that he lost his pacifier during this little adventure and discovered his thumb.  And didn’t lose the taste for that thumb for a couple years after that.  The adventures young folks have in their twenties…

Cairn at the summit

Cairn at the summit

Little rock cairns dot the mountain.  You can utilize them in your climb, keeping you moving in the right direction.  One of our friends even placed another rock atop this cairn before we left.  Just to prove we were there, I guess.

A bag of cherries

A bag of cherries

For the triumphant hikers there were treats:  cherries, green grapes, walnuts and almonds, trail mix, sausage and cheese.  Assorted beverages.  We munched, sipped and admired the view.  The wind blew a little chillier on top of the mountain than in the valley, but no one seemed to mind.

All too soon it was time to descend.  A potluck awaited us at our friends’ house.  It was one of those afternoons when you lament, “Why don’t we do this more often?”  I am feeling grateful for the opportunity to climb a mountain today…

Going back down

Going back down

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