As a guy who shoots more landscape stuff than not I have a major shortcoming: I hate getting up early, as in Oh Dark Thirty early, and that tends to eliminate fifty percent of my potential subjects. Dealing with sunsets and the gloaming of the day is a breeze, but sunrises? They’re not widely represented in my growing portfolio. Not entirely absent mind you, just not plentiful.
I left Copper Harbor, MI early on Friday morning – Richard early – about 0800. Well past sunrise. My goal for the day was to make Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the southeastern edge of Lake Superior. The drive is roughly 300 miles and, allowing for blue highway speeds and a few pits stops and photo-ops, takes about 6 hours.
It was my intent to camp at the lakeshore. There are quite a few sites – all first come/first serve – but I anticipated no difficulty. I completely overlooked what day it was (Friday). By the time I finally made the ranger station at 2 pm all sites were spoken for. I wasn’t terribly disappointed. Camping is still more a lodging alternative than a spiritual experience for me. I assumed I’d find a motel room somewhere in the area and so set off to explore the park with little concern for time.
I do not know how many National Lakeshores there are but I do know that this one is immediately pleasing to the eye what with its dunes and forests and lights and sandy beaches. I figured out quickly why the camping areas were so popular. Pictured Rocks is a major destination draw in this part of the country and easily as impelling as anything I’d seen since leaving LA. There is a minor amount of ‘backcountry’ but the beaches and small harbors are, I believe, what attract people the most to this park. So far it’s one of the two surprise locations I’ve encountered along the way – the other being Custer State Park.
I captured some awesome sunset shots at Pictured Rocks and they’ll be up shortly but the lack of a campsite and then, after six stops and inquiries going south and finding a complete dearth of available hotel rooms, I wound up driving all night en route to Cuyahoga Valley National Park just south of Cleveland. All told a little over 800 miles from the launching point on the Upper Peninsula with only a 30 minute nap along the way at a MI rest area.
That’s the bad news.
The good news was I was up this morning before the sun was – easy if you never go to sleep. The highway south passed lake after pond after creek after river and the temps worked with all these water sources to produce an attractive morning fog. I hunt for trees in fog all the time. It’s part of my general obsession with trees. But this morning they were handed to me. And so I’m handing them to you.
Click the pic to go to the gallery on SmugMug: