There’s just something about an old growth forest. Not that long ago huge swaths of the North Woods and Michigan held massive trees hundreds of years old. So extensive was their reach that a squirrel might go three hundred miles without ever touching the ground (per some guy I was talking to at the state park). The lumber industry in Michigan was initially limited by river access. If there was no nearby river then it just did not make economic sense to cut down the trees. But then the rail road came (damn socialists!) and suddenly the distance to market seemed to shrink and the number of stumps increased. Lucky for folks living about eighty miles south of the Mackinac Bridge the loggers missed a swath and this area now makes up Hartwick Pines State Park.
Joining us on the chilly but beautiful day we visited the park were a bunch of bow hunters and a wedding party. The wedding party sprawled from the picnic area (and was warmed by an outdoor fireplace) to the accurately named Chapel in the Woods. I thought about asking them if they needed a minister but Corey begged me not to. Bow hunting season is not quite as perilous as the rifle season, but to be on the safe side we stuck to the trails marked closed to hunting. Besides a majestic grove of multiple century old pines, the state park also has quite a few deciduous trees. Some were flaming red, but most were a more muted yellow. They were simply awesome to walk around and under. There also is an interesting and somewhat understated Logging Museum.
We checked out the campground and found some nice sites there. The folks at the visitor center said the place gets pretty busy in summer (probably in part because Mackinac Island is only about an hour drive and a ferry away). After spending our morning outside it was time to start our drive south. Away from the lake the leaves remained colorful and there were just enough roadside stands to keep our tummies filled and our legs stretched. Somewhere close to home the leaves turned back green. Noel 10/13