AuTrain Falls-Michigans U.P.

AuTrain Falls was without a doubt my favorite of all the waterfalls we visited while in Michigans U.P.

Why you ask? Well, it was peaceful, had only three people at it when we arrived and they soon left, it was off the beaten path and the falls itself was just a nice slow water flow that brought peace and solitude after a long day of dealing with people waterfall viewing. It was beautiful.

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For this waterfall you will follow a dirt road and come to a gate where there is a parking area for a good number of cars. You will then walk behind the gate and continue down a hill to reach the falls.

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We viewed the waterfall and since we were with our son and his friend whom is also a photographer……we ventured off behind the AuTrain Power building down a trail we saw while they tried to capture the right light or whatever photographers try and capture…haha!

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Trails are meant to be followed in my opinion so we did exactly this. It led us down along side of a river.

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This river eventually got shallow enough for us to walk on the rocks and explore.

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Until……….one of the boulders we were walking on began to move and we discovered this big guy.

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Oh my goodness, I loved him from first sight. Turtles are so fascinating and since we have one as a pet I had to have a picture. Thankfully, my husband loves them also….or at least he loves me enough to pick up this very strong snapping turtle so I could capture a few photos before we released him back the the river where he happily swam away.

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After this we made our way back to the boys who were still trying to capture that perfect shot and I shared my turtle pics with them. As usual, my son was not happy with me since he seems to never be close by when mom and dad stumble upon the coolest things in the wild.

If you visit this waterfall there are no restrooms, no fee and I can only assume in the winter months it will be closed since they may not plow a dirt road….but this I am not sure of.

 

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Laughing Whitefish Waterfall/State Park-Michigans U.P.

Another one of our stops while in Michigans U.P.Labor Day weekend was Laughing Whitefish State Park. Apparently, this is one of Michigans tallest waterfalls and it is located on some rock that many people find it fun to walk on.

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Upon arriving you will need to pay a $9 daily fee to view this waterfall and use this park. It’s on the honor system so make sure you have the proper change and a pen to fill out the paperwork. Ample parking is available and a bathroom at the start of the trail is available but is quite disgusting….or at least it was when we visited.

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The trail to the falls is fairly flat crushed gravel/dirt.

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This is the one waterfall that had, by far, the most steps of every one we visited the entire weekend. Layer after layer of steps and platforms you had to climb….and what goes down must come back up!!!!

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For me personally, the caves that you could view along the way were the best pa of this waterfall hike. They were quite amazing and made for a cool view along the way.

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This was not my favorite waterfall but more because of the people than because of the scenery. However, it is not one to pass up either, so give it a try you may get lucky and have a better crowd than we did when we visited.

 

Miners Castle-Michigans U.P.

Miners Castle was one of the destinations we visited while hiking waterfalls in Michigans U.P.. Even though it is not a waterfall it was on the agenda since this is one of the first places my husband ever took me to get me interested in the great outdoors. I immediately fell in love with this area.

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Very easily accessible on the top portion of the overlook since there are paved sidewalks that lead right up to the overlook platform.

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This is the view from the upper overlook.

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To continue down to the lower viewing platform you will encounter steps. Nothing too serious but none the less steps. So wheelchairs or anyone with a disability may have a problem reaching this area.

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This is the view from the lower overlook.

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I would not call this hiking but if your in the area I would not pass this by since it is quite the sight. It’s very beautiful any time of year….even winter;-)

You will find ample parking, no fee to view from either platforms, and bathrooms are also located here but in the past we have found them locked in the winter months.

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Wagner Falls-Michigans U.P.

Wagner Falls in Michigans U.P. is easy to miss since you come upon it right on the side of MI-94. Parking is very limited and many people we found later in the day parking along the actual highway itself. We lucked out and actually got an actual parking space since we arrived early in the morning hours.

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There are no restrooms here, no fee is charged, and most of the hike is on a wooden platform path.

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Again, as at most Michigan waterfalls, you will come to the end of the path and have to climb stairs to the viewing platform. Although, here there are not many at all and the falls can be seen a bit from the end of the path without climbing the steps.

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Our son and his friend even braved past the viewing platform since it was early and no one was here yet to try and capture a closer photo of this waterfall. Being a mom who believes rules are meant to be broken I told them to go for it…..mom fail…. I know but it is what it is.

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The falls were beautiful in the morning hours, the walkway was slippery due to the morning dew that had covered it, and the actual walk in was short and easy.

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Looking Back At 2015

About this time every year I find myself looking back at the year and like many of you, looking forward to the next year to come. 2015 for our family was not a typical year, from beginning to end, it seemed to challenge our strength as a family both mentally and physically. However, I will say, I do feel like we won this battle and came through it pretty well.

Take a look back with me,

January 2015

I experienced my first dislocated rib while working out and preparing for our rock scrambling vacation in February. Very painful!!!

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February 2015

Our rock scrambling vacation we had prepared for for months was suddenly cancelled due to a major snow storm and no flights were coming or going. We were completely disgusted for weeks….

March 2015

I celebrated a birthday this month with a venture out of the house and some first steps of the year on a muddy trail.

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April 2015

I finally decided to see a doctor for a sore foot I had been having for a few months. After testing and imaging I found out I had torn two tendons in my ankle. Which resulted in some new footwear for weeks.

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On the brighter side, my husband picked up his brand new Jackson kayak this month.

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May 2015

After 6 weeks in that orthopedic boot I thought I was going to go see my doctor and he would say everything looks good and I could remove it. Well, that was not quite what I heard from him. He said I still had two weeks to go, but now I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I wore the boot. I took that line,”anything I want” very seriously and left two days later for a hiking trip to our favorite WI state park. Thanks to my husband and son, I made it to the top of the bluff and back down again with that horrendous contraption on my leg. Let me tell you, IT WAS NOT EASY BUT I (we) DID IT!

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June 2015

I finally was able to remove my ortho boot and what happens next…..my husband suffers a sudden back injury that literally changes our entire summer outlook. After a day of lake kayaking and standup paddling where we were rained on all day, we returned home that night with him feeling pain in his leg.

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After numerous tests, doctors, and images, we had a diagnosis that we were hoping not to hear. Next would be physical therapy for weeks, a lifting restriction for quite sometime, and learning how to do things differently for the rest of his life. This took some soul searching and a lot of praying that he could eventually recover enough to continue doing what we love to do again.

July 2015

This month was the start of a few months of physical therapy which we all tried helping with. He did seek professional help for awhile but after some time his neurologist thought he could accomplish more on his own. Most people need a therapist because they are so inactive that they don’t know where to start. We, however, are very active and just needed to know the basics of what would give him the biggest benefits toward his recovery. We found all sorts of ways to do physical therapy.

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Resistance Bands:

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Walking:

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August 2015

After all that therapy he was given the ok to go on our planned family vacation which just so happened to be hiking in the desert southwest in extreme heat and with extreme elevation. He was limited on backpack weight and was not allowed to even touch our luggage but could hike as far as his body allowed him to hike(as the doctor kindly stated). So we did. And it turned out spectacular!

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September 2015

We returned from vacation, rested up for two weeks and hit the trail again, only a little closer to home this time. We headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hiked the Chapel Loop together….10.6 miles in a day.  IMG_2530

He was still feeling some discomfort but by now we had learned how to deal with any pain he was having. We would rest when the pain started or soaking his foot in cold water was also a nice way to help decrease his discomfort.  IMG_1798  IMG_2661

I also got away in September for a girls day to Cranberry Fest. We had a blast!

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October 2015

October is when we celebrated our 22nd. wedding anniversary. We did this with a overnight trip to Sister Bay, WI at the Birchwood Lodge.

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November 2015

The beginning of this month we found ourselves, yet again, among numerous medical professionals supporting my father-in-law with a major surgery.

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Also this month my husband and I went on a shopping trip to my all time favorite city….Schaumburg, Illinois. I begged him to join me last year and he agreed. This year he offered to join me since we had so much fun last time. I think I may have a shopping partner (package carrier) for life:) Whoo Hoooo!  IMG_2888

December 2015

As predicted by weather forecasters, it had been a pleasant December. One of the best ways for me to celebrate a no snow December is to continue hiking which is exactly what we did. Here is where we spent Christmas Day as a family with sun in our eyes and doing what we love…..hiking.

(photo courtesy of our son, Quade Byrnes)

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So there you have it. Our year from start to finish. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride this year. Among so may other exciting things that have happened throughout the year, I am happy to see this year is now behind us.

My hopes for next year, of course, are to continue to stay healthy. We miss our kayaks severely, have not touched a golf disc in months, and are very excited to be traveling more in the upcoming months.