The first time we had been to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, it was early in the season and the lake was still frigidly cold. Molly and I had talked about how much fun it would be to come back later in the summer after Lake Superior had warmed up a bit. So, with our 6 year anniversary approaching on Labor Day, we made plans for our return to Pictured Rocks.
Due to the holiday weekend crowds, staying in Munising, MI would have cost more than we were prepared to spend at a Days Inn or similar hotel, so we saved a couple bucks and stopped at the Super 8 in Escanaba for the night. The hotel was a little ghetto, but what do you expect from a Super 8?
The weather was beautiful the next morning as we continued north to Munising to stock up on provisions. We departed from the Mosquito Trail Head and made quick work of the easy hike to the campsites. There we found things different than when we had been there last. Instead of a pristine, quiet, and clean campground we found a trashed, overused maze of campsites complete with the remains of illegally-made rock fire rings. Despite the multiple pit toilet facilities nearby, TP and refuse abounded nearby every campsite so we picked one that seemed the most out of the way but still close to the beach and made camp.
Trying to look past the ignorance of bad backcountry campers and beach-goers, we scrambled down to the water to enjoy our evening. We had a nice dinner on the rocks and made friends with a shrew while enjoying the sunset.
The next day we were again greeted with phenomenal weather and we spent most of the day hanging out on the rock beach jumping off the ledge into deeper water.
Despite the beautiful setting, neither Molly nor I could really settle in and enjoy ourselves. Idiot day-users were practically stepping on us even when we were the only people on the beach, the loud speaker from the tour boats kept blaring, and unprepared hikers kept asking us to pump water for them.
Maybe we had been spoiled by the solitude of Colorado, but this was not our scene. After dinner, we packed up the campsite and hiked out. My parents had told us about the kitschy little Terrace Bay Inn just north of Escanaba so we decided to give it a try. We ordered a pizza and drank beer that evening enjoying the view of the moon rising over the lake from our hotel room balcony, disappointed in what Pictured Rocks had become, but happy to be together.