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Chapel Rock -PRNL, MI
mini location map1986-05-03
6 by photographer avatarBarrett
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Chapel Rock -PRNL, MI 
Chapel Rock -PRNL, MI
Hiking avatar May 03 1986
Hiking8.00 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   3 Hrs      2.67 mph
300 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Growing up in southeastern Michigan and loving cool geology and scenic views simply meant you were going to do some driving. 4 hours north to the Mackinac Bridge got you to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and another 2 or 3 to the southern shore of Lake Superior usually did the job. The largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, the Ojibwe called it Gichigami, or "big water", which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (The Song of Hiawatha) and Gordon Lightfoot (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald) both changed to Gitche gumee for unknown reasons. It's rugged shoreline was a string of cliffs, waterfalls, sea caves and other points of interest lacking elsewhere in the state, and our destination on many trips.
My partner in adventure for most of my teen years was Mark L., who enjoyed trips to the Detroit Public Library's map collection as much as I. Poring over huge topos' we made notes and photocopied in those days before the internet. Putting together a string of fire towers, waterfalls, and anything else that looked interesting, we packed his Dad's old Volvo station wagon and headed north.
Chapel Rock had caught our eye, sitting on the lake's edge in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, north of the tiny town of Melstrand. We camped at large, avoiding campgrounds when we could, and hit the trail in the early morning. 2 miles in we reached Chapel Falls, which were "falls" only by the skin of their teeth. Just a steep section of stream through some boulders really - we were glad there was more to see ahead. 2 miles more and it arrived just as we could see the lake through the trees. An amazing formation of weathered Cambrain age sandstone stood on pillars with a giant conifer placed perfectly on top, connected to the rest of the shore by a bridge of roots high in the air. We both got our cameras out and started climbing all over the place, taking a break amidst the pillars for lunch before deciding to try the root-bridge. It was the only way to get to the top and the tree, the sandstone being too soft for climbing, and the overhangs way beyond our climbing abilities. I suppose one could walk across, but the exposure was pretty serious, so we basically straddled the roots and shimmied across. The breeze from the lake kept the bugs at bay, which is a rare pleasure in the north woods, and we had a great afternoon hanging out and enjoying the view of the big lake.
The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar.
It was tense.
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