September 5, 2010 - Mosquito Falls, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Drove from Munising to Miner's Falls. A crowded Labor Day hike to Miners Falls. Spent the noon napping on Miners Beach. Started towards the Chapel area around 6pm, and consequently began the 1.2 mile hike to Mosquito Falls only at 6:30pm. Sunset in an hour, yet we thought we could make it. We did get to Mosquito Falls, and took a bunch of pics. This was one of them.
We then decided to hike to yet another waterfall, the Chapel Falls. It was 7ish by then, but we hiked fast and completed 2.4 miles back to the starting point. We then noticed a fork that said Chapel, and took it. We assumed it led to Chapel Falls. That was a huge mistake, but we didn't know it then. We merrily hiked on and the trail went on & so we trudged on & on and pretty soon we had covered a few miles! Chapel Falls was only a 1.4 mile hike, so what went wrong ? We had probably picked the trail that led to Chapel Beach, a much longer hike. By the time we realized our mistake and decided to turn around, it was 8pm, quite dark and scary. We had absolutely no supplies, no trailmix, no cellphone, no GPS, no source of light except the Nikon Flash!!! It soon grew pitch dark and we could barely see anything. We clicked the shutter every few minutes so the flash would show us the way. But this was a bad idea too - the trail was so dark the flash would momentarily blind us! So we stopped doing that after a bit. A deer ( I'm assuming it was a deer, couldn't see clearly ) ran across our path noisily and we realized how helpless we were if an animal were to attack us. We started clapping the legs of the tripod so the noise would hopefully keep any animals away. And we had a loud conversation about nothing, just to keep our spirits up. But it was clear that we were in a dangerous zone.
The trail was marked by fallen trees. Everytime we felt a tree branch, we had to go around the tree, and hopefully not miss the trail. Several times I thought we had missed the trail entirely and were on some random path through the Aspen forest heading straight down to a cliff falling off into Lake Superior!
By some miracle ( I can only call it that ), we did manage to emerge safe and sound. We stumbled into the parking lot at 9:30 pm, pitch dark. When I clicked the shutter the last time, the flash illuminated the car and thatr's how we knew we had made it back!!! V's parents were back in the car & they were quite scared and angry that we were so careless about our safety. Well, who could blame them. Certainly the most scary trail we've had in a very long while. We did have to be rescued by cops in a helicopter after we called 911 way back in 2003 while hiking in Arizona at the Lost Dutchman state park. The sun set while we were atop the mountain & it was pitch dark on our way down and finally we called the cops after getting caught in thorny cacti!
This time there were no cacti. No thorns, no rocks. Just a very long, narrow beach trail between the Aspens. We are no stranger to close shaves, but this one took the cake.
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