Return to Part 11
We were awakened around dawn in Baraga by the chill, and the sounds of morning traffic on 41. The plan for the day was to hit a couple things in Iron Mountain, and start heading home along US-2. But we still were ahead of schedule by one day, so some extras were in order. Namely, something that neither of us had seen before. I proffered Menominee, since I had never yet had the chance or made the time to go down to that remote corner of the state. Usually by the time I get over to that side of the Yoopee, I’m in a hurry to get back home. Well this time, I was going to make an exception.
But first, a few other things had to be checked off, namely Canyon Falls, near Alberta. Little did I know, despite the lame-sounding name “Canyon Falls Roadside Park,” this was about to become one of my favorite beauty spots in all of Michigan. And to think of all the times I had simply bypassed it because it was next to a rest area and had a touristy name!
After a short hike we were standing next to the big falls. But it was not the falls that had my attention at all—it was the arresting beauty of the geology of the area.
The blue slate was marvelous, and the sheer cliffs topped by mature pine-cedar-hemlock forest just made it unimaginably Elysian.
Wide-eyed, I hiked further up the trail, amazed to see that this crazy scene kept going.
Then I remembered that this was actually a segment of the North Country Trail, and chances were that this kept going for miles, and I could hike all of it if I wanted to.
Navi seemed a little less into it than I was, most likely due to his shabby health and the cold early morning, but he had had his coffee this time, so too bad!
I scampered ahead eagerly, to see what marvels each new bend in the terrain would bring.
This is hands-down the most scenic river I now know of in the world. I don’t care what anyone says.
The canyon, not the falls, is what makes Canyon Falls sparkle. You expect to see places like this in glossy National Geographic spreads, from lands you’ll never get to go to, or hope to be able to pronounce.
Navi acts unimpressed:
This stubborn tree demonstrates the true meaning of Sisu:
Finally the tall cliffs subsided and the river took on a more standard appearance, but there were still several waterfalls to be found downriver.
Though I couldn’t get enough of this river, I knew I had to give it up at some point. Navi was lagging behind, and we were at least a mile or two from the car. I wiped the drool from my chin, and we walked back.
The Iron County Courthouse in Crystal Falls was our next stop as we made our way onto US-141. I had always wanted to see the inside, so we did.
I had once read that this place had ridiculous, almost medieval-style wrought iron chandeliers (celebrating Iron County’s ferrous riches, of course), but so far I wasn’t seeing anything like that.
The view I had come for:
The Iron County Courthouse commands an extremely stately position atop the hill of the town. Unfortunately we couldn’t get up in the clocktower.
Next we quickly ended up in Florence, Wisconsin, since that’s where US-2 takes you on the way to Iron Mountain. More county courthouse action:
I'm not sure if we were allowed to go in the old jail, but we did anyway.
In Iron Mountain we hit our third one, the Dickinson County Courthouse:
Or should I say gaol? Donjon? These windows are pretty medieval:
Then again it’s probably pretty tough trying to keep a riled-up iron miner or lumberjack caged.
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