Visiting Teri and Grey in the UP and Some Northwoods Adventures

Our destination after crossing the border from Ontario was Marquette, Michigan where Tom’s cousin Ken and wife Geri live. We visited them 3 summers ago when we did our tour of Lake Superior and it was wonderful to catch up again in person. Ever knowledgeable about their town and the surrounding area, they continued the tour of Marquette they’d started back in 2015 in addition to sharing their home and hospitality with us.

After a couple days we moved on to visit our friends Teri and Grey who live in the westermost Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. We had last seen them too 3 years ago and so it was wonderful to spend time with them over dinners, drinks, and hikes for a few days. Upon arriving we walked from Teri’s house to downtown Irontown where we walked around the farmer’s market; from there we stopped for a quick beer at the new-to-us local brewery, Cold Iron Brewing, and then on to dinner. My Copper Peak Pale Ale was very good, but Tom’s pint of Black Lager was AMAZING and I got beer envy again.

The next day Teri, Tom, the dogs, and I hiked a section of the North Country Trail, which will get it’s own blog post, but the over following 2 days we did shorter hikes just over the state line in Wisconsin. Unfortunately Grey was nursing an Achilles injury and was unable to hike with us but 2 out of 3 times he joined us for the drive out and met up with us after a bike ride.

So jumping forward to our second hike: Teri and I – and the 3 dogs – headed out to Manitowish Waters to hike some of the trails in the North Lakeland Discovery Center. Though she’d been there to cross-country ski Teri hadn’t had an opportunity to hike the trails – which she told me our visit had given her an excuse to do. I’m a good friend like that. Anyway, we hiked about 4-5 miles of the various loop trails there walking mostly under forest cover between the lakes and ponds that pockmark the landscape of northeastern Wisconsin. At the end of our hike we walked through an interesting bog section too that included some larch trees. It felt like a pretty genuine Northwoods environment. The primarily hemlock and pine forest was quite lovely but I got very few decent pictures due to Teri’s dogs Gabby and Missy darting in and out of the brush which blurred my low light shots. Their enthusiasm for being outside is wonderful and it was a joy to watch them suddenly reappear then duck off the trail again.

That night we returned to the brewery late in hopes of snagging that Black Lager but alas, they’d tapped a replacement keg of Black Ale that was good but much milder in flavor. I mention this second brewery stop because Abby made herself honorary bartender. At the time of our arrival there were only 2 couples and 1 single in the place, all of whom were enthusiastic about petting her so we let her wander around and get some attention rather than keep her tied to the bar stool. At some point however she found her way behind the bar where she decided to sit and watch everyone – and that’s where the actual bartender found her when he returned from washing dishes in the back. She was rewarded with a treat for her vigilance.

On our last day Tom, Teri and I headed out to another hike on Teri’s list – the little known Big Island Trail in the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage – where we traversed some of the marsh land adjacent to the huge area covered by the dammed Flambeau River. We passed canoe-launching sites and milkweed and tons of blackberries, the latter of which I ate aplenty. However we were swarmed by mosquitoes, which is understandable given the trail’s location in marshland. I mean, we applied bug spray like it was going out of style, but still. Tom and I swatted like crazy for the first hour since we have little tolerance for flying insects anymore but even Teri, who is seriously tough when it comes to biting bugs of all kinds (including hateful black flies), was ready to throw in the towel after that. We met up with Grey and retired for an early dinner.

But our day wasn’t over; after dinner we attended a lecture at a local library by Nancy Langston on her book Sustaining Lake Superior in which she detailed the history of human use, subsequent industrial pollution, and the destruction of important habitat in the lake. She went on to talk about the lake’s limited recovery, all the while emphasizing the outsized importance of the largest of the Great Lakes in the region’s economy, it’s role in the coming climate change, and what this meant for the future of the region. This fascinating lecture led us to purchasing her book, in which we read about the effects of the mining and logging industries as well as the blatant abuse the ecosystem had been subjected to under unchecked industry. I took a few pictures of her lecture slides, a couple of which are below.