Thank you to JT Royster of Brighton for providing this guest blog post and stunning images of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Located on a northern tip of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bordering Lake Superior, and near the tiny town of Munising is my favorite place in Michigan…the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This park with unique and spectacular scenery is easily the most beautiful of anywhere along the Great Lakes shorelines.
To reach the area, you have to cross over the Mackinac Bridge, which joins the two peninsulas of Michigan, and drive about 80 miles west and 20 miles north. The park is 42 miles of shoreline, and 73,236 acres of land with waterfalls, sand dunes, beaches, forests, and cliffs.
The park is named for the multicolored sandstone cliffs that tower up to 200 feet over Lake Superior. There are 12 miles of beautifully colored rocks along the shoreline. For thousands and thousands of years the lake waters have sculpted these cliffs into a spectacular vision. There are caves, arches, and cliffs in a range of hues that you would not expect in a rock! Light aqua, seafoam green, beige, dark brown to black, and they change again to orange, red and yellow. The color of the water changes as well, with the sun it is turquoise, under the clouds it becomes grey, when it is calm it looks light blue or when rough it looks navy. There is nothing better than kayaking as fast and far as you can to get around that next bend and see what’s around it.
Beaching the kayak and hiking inland just a few hundred yards you find a forest of beech, hemlock, white pine and maple trees. There are trails to waterfalls, wetlands, picnic areas, campgrounds, and scenic views. Animals in the area include bears, deer, wolves, and moose. A variety of birds such as eagles, ospreys, owls, and hawks can be seen soaring above the cliffs.
I believe that beauty can be felt. I could feel my five senses come alive here. I heard the sound of the waves against the rocks and the little lapping sounds as they came into the sandy beach. I heard the wind rushing by my ears as I paddled to the next rock and rustling the leaves of the maple trees. I heard the birds chirping in the trees and the red squirrels chattering as they played. I heard raindrops on the tent and on the lake. I touched the water, the rocks, the dirt, and the roots of a tree as they reached deeper and farther for the soil that was being washed away by the waves. I smelled the fresh water, clean air, pine trees, and wet leaves. I tasted raindrops, lake water as it sprayed my face, and a breakfast cooked outdoors. And I could see! See the waves, the rocks, and the beach… the beauty of it all. The gorgeous views that were created by Mother Nature for me, just at that moment were so beautiful. I will go again! I will go to find the same water, the same rocks and the same views, but changed. Changed by the hand of Mother Nature for me to feel the beauty, once again.
JT’s hometown is Brighton MI. He is a musician and student currently residing in Chicago, attending Columbia College. You can find JT kayaking the waters of Michigan any chance he gets, and you can hear his music on his MySpace page.