The old rice trick brought life back to my water-soaked camera. I really didn't want to send it in, knowing that it would take several weeks to get it back, weeks of prime summer hiking and exploring that I'd miss out on. Plus, it was a new shiny toy. To celebrate the revived camera Katie and I decided to head down to Sturgeon River Gorge. I had been to the gorge years before with some friends and was looking forward to taking her to one of the largest waterfalls in the area.
Our first stop was at Powerhouse Falls. This was where I had dropped the camera just a few days ago. I didn't get a chance to take any photos of the main waterfall before the accident. Not wanting to waste any time I headed straight to the cement building and snapped a bunch of pictures of the falls and upper drops. Curious about the old building we peered in a few of the glass windows, checking out the old equipment and spare windows in the dark interior.
A slight backtrack to Baraga to M-38, a familiar road for me, took us to the network of forest roads that led down to Baraga Plains and Sturgeon River Falls. It had been awhile so I had printed out the directions with Katie acting as my navigator down the dusty tracks. There were few signs on the way along NF-2270, and it was with a relief when we pulled up into the nice big parking area for the gorge.
We got out, leashed up Logan, and headed west along the footpath. The trail isn't well marked but is well traveled, as this waterfall is a fairly popular destination. When we bumped into the edge of the gorge the trail started splitting, some paths leading north and others heading down the steep river bank. I didn't remember this part. Figuring that the waterfall had to be on the river I led us down one of the first forks, a narrow and winding track down.
This was the wrong way. We soon found ourselves on the wrong side of a large oxbow, swampy and riddled with black flies, with no trail to speak of. Katie can't stand black flies. I was confused and insisted on heading parallel to the water, thinking that the river and falls would show up trail or no, while she wanted to backtrack back to the main path. She ended up taking the dog and returning to the car while I stubbornly continued onwards into the thickening undergrowth.
After a quarter mile of swamp I finally bumped into the river. It was flowing to the north and did not look very waterfall-y upstream. I turned around and followed it north, downstream, which took me back to the narrow footpath. This route soon widened as more footpaths came down the gorge and led to the falls. I ended up on the main trail again, which led through a grove of pine trees that was just pleasant to stroll through, up to a large clearing right above the falls.
Taking my time here I ventured along the narrow chute that Sturgeon River is funneled into, over the small drops, and then headed downstream to view the huge, fanning plunge. The size of the waterfall and power of the river is incredible to experience in person. It was hard to tear myself away from this spot but I knew Katie was waiting for me. I set off in a half-jog back up to the parking lot, sticking to the main trail this time.
The sun was still high in the sky. I had some hopes of visiting Silver Mountain today, a few short miles away, but Katie was done. The black flies and thick woods in the gorge was enough for one day. Still, it was nice to be back adventuring again with a working camera, and even nicer to revisit one of the first waterfalls I experienced in the Upper Peninsula.