Michigan isn’t really a mountainous state, and in fact the highest peaks are under 2,000 ft. which might make some folks just roll their eyes: “You call that a mountain? Out west we call that a foothill.” But, if you want to see the best of what we’ve got, you need to go north to the Huron Mountains in the upper peninsula. In particular, our family is very partial to 4 mountains in “da Yoop.” The highest that we’ve climbed as a family is Hogsback, and we learned a lot from that mountaintop experience, such as: Prepare for weather changes (it gets very cold after sunset); don’t take a young pup, a baby, and 6 small children up your first time; and, learn how to use a compass correctly before heading back down. We were inexperienced and (some might say almost) foolhardy. It got dark, it got very cold, we got lost and wandered through a swamp, and our story could have had a tragic ending, although thankfully, we survived and got wiser. This is what summitpost.org has to say about Hogback (which we didn’t read 25 years ago): “Hogback offers one of the most difficult (in my opinion) hikes in Michigan. The peak rises 600 feet above the surrounding terrain but hikers will ascend much of that in the last 1/2 to 3/4 mile. This peak is unique in that its summit is mostly devoid of vegetation. It’s as close to an alpine environment as you can get in Michigan.” So, it’s a great hike, but I will say, not all mountain-top experiences are pleasant!
The second “mountain” we love is Sugarloaf,
which is just outside Marquette (as is Hogsback). The trail is well marked, it’s a pretty easy climb
(at least for most healthy folks ages 3-73), and the views of Hiawatha’s “shores of Gitche Gumee, of the shining Big-Sea-Water” (aka the Lake Superior Coast) are gorgeous! The third mountain-top experience is the view atop
Porcupine Mountain State Park at the far-western end of the U.P. You can drive your car to within a short (paved) distance from the overlook, or you can take a 6-mile hike across the mountains to Mirror Lake, which at least one of our children was accomplishing barefoot by age six.
(Intrepid, I’d say.) The last mountain-top experience we love
is the drive up to the top of Brockway Mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula, and that’s the only mountain-top experience we enjoyed this roots tour,
given the tender ages of our grandchildren. But, it was such a joy! There’s something deeply emotionally satisfying about sharing the highs of life with not only your children, but your children’s children.
It somehow compresses memory and expands eternity. While watching our granddaughters, I couldn’t help but remember our son at just about their age, so delighted to find his own wild strawberry! We relive our joys anew through the exuberance of our children…and their children… and our joys are multiplied and reaffirmed as good. Here’s my prayer for all of us: May we experience and treasure many mountain-top experiences in our lives—both scary and sublime—and may we grow wiser, sharing what we learn with those who come after us.“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”