From the eastern edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Grand Marais to the western edge in Munising is a short drive, just 67 miles even when the main road through the park is closed for construction. We made the trip on Saturday, and settled in to the city-owned Munising Tourist Camp (click here to read our review and see photos of our scenic site) before 1 pm.
It was a rainy day, so we weren’t motivated to undertake a hike, but hadn’t had lunch and didn’t have anything on hand tempting us. On the advice of an anonymous reader (thank you!), we made a trip to Muldoon’s Pasties and Gifts (say Pass-tees, not Paste-ys), in a little yellow house between the campground and Munising.
Neither Odel nor I have ever had a really delicious pastie, a kind of turnover (usually meat filled) that was the traditional lunch of choice for miners – and the U.P. has a mining history going way back. The pasties I’ve had were mostly dreary things, lumpy, thick dough surrounding a meat filling completely lacking in seasoning. But, as I said, we were hungry…
It is obvious from the number of tables (2 inside and maybe 4 on the deck) that most of Muldoon’s business is take-out. We ordered at the counter – a beef pastie for Odel and a vegetarian pastie for me – and were immediately handed our choices from a large warming case, neatly packaged in a white paper bag. On the advice of the counterman (actually, a teenaged boy), Odel ordered a side of beef gravy. Off to our table, with only minor misgivings.
Wow, were those things GREAT. Mine especially. :) A thin, flakey crust held a well seasoned mixed of finely cubed/chopped vegetables – primarily potatoes, with carrots, onion and (I think) some broccoli. Delicious, especially with the beef gravy Odel ordered. His was good, too – he probably liked it better than he liked mine, so we both were happy.
Sunday dawned sunny and clear, and we had a plan.
Seven years ago, we stayed in this same campground and took a hike through the forest to a secluded beach with a wonderful rock shelf extending far into Lake Superior’s waters. In the last few years, we have wondered whether that beach was as special as we remembered, or whether our memories were colored by the euphoria of our first year of travel and exploration. Though we didn’t remember the name of the trail or the beach, we decided (last winter) to see whether we could find it again.
Looking at the maps of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we decided we had hiked to Mosquito Beach. Drive 15 miles east of Munising, hang a left on a dirt road, drive another 5 miles and park at the trailhead. Two miles of hiking, and you are there:
This rock shelf is underwater, though the water is so clear you can hardly tell.
This is the Mosquito River, a few dozen feet from where it empties into Lake Superior.
It was just as spectacular as we remembered! This time, we came better prepared, wearing shoes suitable for wading and carrying our lunch. We spent several hours enjoying our hike through the woods and wandering the beach, building new memories of this lovely spot.
Back home in mid-afternoon, it was a sunny 80 degrees and we did something very rare – put on our swimming suits and jumped into Lake Superior! (Perhaps “jumped” is not the right word; we sort of “eased” into the lake.)
According to recent newspaper reports, Lake Superior is 15-20 degrees above the normal average temperature for this time of year, on track to break the record of 68 degrees. In our little corner of the lake, once past a wide band of smooth pebbles, the sandy bottom stretches so far out into the lake that you have to bend your knees to dunk your body underwater, so the water was nicely warmed by solar heat. Refreshing, fun… it’s summertime!
A hike, a swim – you can guess what came next: a nap. I can’t think of a way to improve on the day. Another great memory.