Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mosquito Beach

When we arrived at Mosquito Beach I was surprised by how different it looked. While Chapel Beach was what most would think of when they hear "beach"--dry and sandy--Mosquito was anything but. Dominated by sandstone slabs, this to me is more typical of the Superior coastline. And while Chapel Beach had lots of nice, smooth Superior agates, Mosquito had only flat sandstone "skipping" stones--you know, the ones you wing out across the water and count how many times they skip.

Somewhere behind the tree line along the beach was a bog or marsh, which seemed to be continually oozing water through the short bluff along the beach and out into Superior. It would leach out from under the sand and trickle down to the big lake, and no where on this beach was there dry sand.

Here the Mosquito River empties into Lake Superior. The lump of stones off to the left in the river is one of those cairns that folks feel compelled to build anywhere they find more than two rocks to stack atop each other. I generally feel compelled to knock them down, but I refrained.

I encountered more mergansers on the beach here, and I tried to skirt this pair so as not to disturb them, but...

...I looked down and saw some great tracks in the wet sand from what I think was a mink (lens cap is for scale--it's 2.5 inches across). I must have dallied too long over the tracks cuz the mergansers got fed up and left.

Curious to see what was on the other side of the trees I climbed the bluff and picked up the trail that goes to Miners Castle. Indeed there were wetlands opposite the beach, filled with wildflowers, including lots of pearly everlasting. This flower has paper-like petals that are great in dried flower arrangements, but please don't pick them in the wild!!
I sensed it was getting close to dinner time so I headed back to camp. Sure enough, Karin, who had stayed behind for a little alone time/book time/nap time was up and about, starting to get dinner ready.

After we ate we could see the sky catching fire in the west, through the trees, so we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. This seagull was hamming it up for my camera.

Since this is a campground that does not allow fires, we sat around a small lantern that evening and talked. While we relaxed a ruckus kicked up maybe 30 feet behind the tent. We heard scurrying feet and small bodies crashing through the underbrush, headed right for us. The animals passed by, then there was a pause, and then again they took off, once again headed toward us. Just then they scampered through our camp site--two foxes! We could not tell if they were chasing something or chasing each other as the light was dim and neither one of us had a flashlight handy. They ran off in the direction they'd come, having made a circle around our tent, and we were both very happy for the brief encounter.
I did not sleep as well the second night, perhaps because I didn't take any Advil. I was tossing and turning, and Karin had already gotten up once to pee (I had already determined that I was not leaving the tent until daybreak). Not too long after that I heard a rustling sound. I was laying on my left side, my back to the door and the vestibule where my shoes and pack were stored. I thought the sound was Karin getting more toilet paper, and I thought, good grief, she has to go AGAIN? until she said, "Something's in your pack."
"WHAT?!?" I exclaimed. "I thought that was you!" "No, something's in your pack, hit the side of the tent!" So I did, then groped around for my head lamp and switched it on, and peeked out the small screen in the door--nothing. I slowly unzipped the door, and looked at my pack. Sure enough, out of the outer pocket (which does not zip but only has a flap) something had been pulling stuff. I reached in and found an empty Ziplock baggie that had once held raw veggies, a bag I didn't even realize was in my pack. We had stored all other food stuff and bags, but this got missed.
I shone the light around, looking for the culprit, but didn't see anything. Just as I was about to say this a head appeared around the front of the tent. I let out a little squeal even as I realized it was a raccoon. I tried to shoo it away--it just stood there. I got a little louder--it walked around the tent to the other end. It was then I realized that the head lamp's first setting is a red light--one that we can see but most other animals cannot. I gave the button another click and bright white light shone out. I shined the light on my face so the coon could see me, then shone it back in its face and told it to git--and it did. Needless to say every little rustle after that jolted me awake, but we did not have any more visitors after that.
The hike back to the car was short and uneventful. There's something about knowing you're going home that takes some of the excitement out of a hike--it kind of feels like you're just trying to get it over with. We had a long drive back to Karin's, but I had suggested a stop in Mackinaw City for dinner at The Depot, where I'd had a great burger with jalapenos and avocado on a previous trip. I crashed at Karin's that night, then headed home Monday.
It was a perfect trip in perfect weather, a great introduction to backcountry camping with an experienced hiker (though she told me at one point in our journey that she'd only backpacked once before--HA!). We are both eagerly awaiting our next trip.

1 comment:

  1. "good grief!" "HA!" This was a fun read. Thanks for your commentary about my bio-breaks, (hey when you gotta go, you gotta go – and I cannot sleep with a full bladder. OK. TMI.