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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chapel Beach to Grand Portal Point at Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks, view along hike from Chapel Beach to Grand Portal Point

September 14, 2013


From Chapel Beach, M and I continued hiking to Grand Portal Point, the midpoint between Chapel and Mosquito Beach. We traversed the sandy shady North Country Trail, passing by scenic overlooks from 200 ft tall cliffs. Beneath these cliffs, turquoise waves ebbed and flowed into underground caves. We listened to the thunderous echoes of the crashing waves and stood in awe of the vastness of Lake Superior. The lake glistened as far as our eyes could see, and for the first time, I realized we were staring at the bent horizon of a not flat earth. In vain, M and I also tried to spot Canada but couldn't see anything that would resemble land. After watching a tour boat drive by, we resumed hiking.

The rest of the trail was a little overgrown and littered with tiny tree stumps. This part of the hike was a bit harrowing because I kept tripping over the stumps. Moreover, it wasn't comforting to know that we were hiking next to exposed cliffs. It was a long way to the bottom and I didn't want to get up-close and personal with the boulders and sandstone pillars in the water. We quickly reached a sign for Grand Portal and from the path, it didn't seem to fit its name. All we could see was a tan cliff-like peninsula jutting into the lake. However, upon walking further, we saw that Grand Portal was an immense, exposed sandstone shelf, cleared of growth on both sides. This "shelf" looked over Lake Superior and nothing more. I walked over to the peninsula where a boulder sat perfectly for photo ops. Inching my way past the crack in the ground and making sure the ground wouldn't give way while I was on top, I peered over the edge and didn't see anything but the bluest waves. I didn't linger too long and with the ravaging winds whipping up more sand, we left the area and headed towards Mosquito Beach.

Our hike is highlighted in red on map in upper left. Map courtesy of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (NPS)

Leaving Chapel Beach and heading towards Mosquito Beach

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

View along North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

Tour boat passing below us

A sliver of Chapel Beach can be seen in the upper right along North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

Long way down. North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

Overgrown and right at the edge of the cliff. North Country Trail to Grand Portal Point

Grand Portal Point

Grand Portal Point. The peninsula with the boulder

The sandstone shelf that is Grand Portal Point

Strong winds and exposed! Grand Portal Point

Heading back to North Country Trail from Grand Portal Point

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