Sunday, August 1, 2010


Scenes from our walk through the forest on the Mosquito Beach trail.

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…

Clear Lake Superior and the rock shelf at Mosquito Beach 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:

Lovely water of Lake Superior The Mosquito River where it reaches Lake Superior

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.

Lake Superior at Munising Tourist Camp 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.


  1. Beautiful area, that's for sure. Mosquito Beach? Does it have that name for the obvious reasons?

    Loved your pics and hope you have a lovely time in this area.

  2. A treasure worth "re-finding!" Beautiful!

  3. I tried a couple of pasties when I lived in Ireland and didn't think I would ever want another one. Muldoon's sounds a little better, but then I really prefer American food - in a melting pot such as ours you are going to get the best of everything. My opinion only, of course.

  4. The only way I've ever come close to making a great pastie crust was by using Pillsbury's Pie Crust in the dairy section. I Know it's cheating but they are great and so much easier.

  5. Margie, you would think the name Mosquito Beach might warn you away, huh? We saw a few along the hike, which is through damp, sometimes muddy, forest, but weren't really bothered. I don't know why, but we have encountered very few mosquitos anywhere we have travelled this summer. A blessing!

  6. Sounds like a great summer day!

  7. I think I constantly live in the mosquito capital of the nation. It seems that no matter where I go, those little buzzards follow me. :)

  8. You two sound like a commercial for "Go Rv'ing"...the couple that jumps into the lake! What a fabulous day you had...It's unusual to "revisit" a place and find it just as you remembered it...I am so envious!!!

  9. AHhhhh pasties!!! I am a Yooper Girl and worked at a restaurant as a teen that sold 100s of pasties every day. Yes, Muldoons is the best up there in Munising!

    Some folks slather on ketchup, some gravy, some butter (me)

    The Cornish miners would have them wrapped in a cloth and hauled down in the mine in their lunchpails. They would heat them up on their mining lamps right before lunchtime down in the shafts. Yummmmmm

    We live 30 miles from Colonial K's pasties in Menominee, not as good as Dobbers in Escanaba or Iron Mt.

    If you are looking for something *Yooperish* - on a rainy night you can rent the movie "Escanaba in Da Moonlight" for a good dose of U.P. flavor and highjinks.. with Jeff Daniels. Very appropriate when visiting Da U.P.!

  10. Karen... funny thing: About a dozen years ago, I saw a stage play of Escanaba in Da Moonlight when I lived in Sacramento, CA. It was hysterical! During our very first year of travel, we visited Escanaba JUST because of that! I took a photo in front of the P.O or City offices... some government building with "Escanaba" on it, just to send to my girlfriends who had seen the play with me. What a hoot. I must say, we see a lot of authentic looking Yoopers around here!

  11. Yup, even mid-summer you see them in plaid flannel shirt, sh*t-kicker work boots and their baseball caps with greasy brims... usually with the name of a chain saw or truck company logo on them. LOL.... (my brothers who all live up there still all dress this way)

    Winter is even more fun, with grimy tan Carhardt jackets and bibs, big Iceman boots and topped off by a Kroner wool cap with flaps!


  12. What a beautiful lake. I am constantly surprised how clear the water there is. 68 degrees is wetsuit temperature for me though. :)

    I have sure enjoyed your travels this summer!