I think I’ve mentioned at least a couple (million) times before that pre-travel research is not really a thing that I do.
I’d like to think this is because I’m a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.
But I suspect it’s because I’m more the lazy, watching-Netflix-while-in-pajama-pants type.
I didn’t know how to spell it. (I still don’t. I had to Google search it before I wrote the title of this post. And every time I type the name, I have to double-check it with the title to make sure I’m getting it right.)
I didn’t know how to pronounce it. (According to a brochure I read while I was there, it rhymes with “phenomenon.” Seriously, did you ever think there would be a word that rhymes with “phenomenon”? I thought that was kind of like the word “orange.”)
I didn’t know there are actually two separate falls.
There are the Lower Falls, which is a set of smaller falls, located near Paradise, Michigan.
And then about four miles south are the Upper Falls, a much taller horseshoe-shaped falls.
I didn’t know that you could hike the four miles between the falls. And I certainly didn’t know that this would be something I would want to do.
I mean, sure, I like a good hike as much as the next girl. But hiking four miles to get to the Upper Falls when I could just as easily drive there? That seemed a bit, well, drastic. I’m more of a one-to-three-mile-and-only-because-I-can’t-drive-there hike kind of girl.
Plus, the four miles only gets you to the other falls. It doesn’t get you back to where you started. Hiking eight miles round trip? Now that’s just the talk of crazies — you know, the kind of crazies who make a regular habit of wearing those pants with the legs that zip off into shorts.
But, when I showed up at the Lower Falls, I discovered it was crawling with families, particularly of the stroller-wielding, screaming-toddler variety. And my instant reaction was: “Gah! Get me to the nature!”
(No offense to my toddler-having, stroller-wielding readers out there. I’m sure your toddlers are lovely and never, ever scream in public and would not make me choose running away into the bug-infested woods over spending a minute more of time with them.)
That’s when I saw this sign:
If ever there was a sign that screamed: “NOT FOR TODDLERS OR STROLLERS! DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, PARENTS!,” it was this sign.
The trail was indeed not stroller or toddler-friendly. In fact, it wasn’t even very Sally-friendly. It was full of mushy bits, and there were a whole lot of rooty bits. And because I find it hard to walk on smooth surfaces without tripping, this was especially tricky for me.
It was also a very long four miles. Like, really, REALLY looonnnggg. I suspect it had something to do with all the hills. I think anytime there are hills on a hike, they should add a mile or two to the trail sign, just so you can feel a bit better about yourself when it takes you five million years to complete the hike.
But despite the mushy bits and rooty bits and the hilly bits and the bits which were only a mile but felt like five billion, I was happy I had decided to take the hike. If only because of all the many beautiful bits, like this:
It was also very quiet and terrifically un-screamy. Unless you count the number of times, I screamed at the mile markers which would say something ridiculous like “3 more miles” when I could have sworn that I’d already hiked at least twenty-five billion miles already.
I finally arrived at the Upper Falls, where instead of being greeted by a big huge, wonderful waterfall, I was greeted by stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. Each set of stairs leading to different platform where you could view the falls from a different angle.
And even though my legs were like, “You just made me hike four miles of hills and roots and now you want me to climb STAIRS? Are you mad, woman???” I climbed every single set of stairs. If only so that I could get a selfie in front of the falls at twenty different angles.
I have the “Standing Really Far Away From the Falls With a Mildly Crazy Look on my Face Selfie”:
I have the “Standing a Little Bit Closer to the Falls (This Time with a Hat for Variety!) Selfie”
And then the “Standing Super Close to the Falls That I Just Hiked Four Miles to See Even Though I Could Have Driven Here Selfie”:
Just like the Lower Falls, the Upper Falls were teeming with strollers and screaming toddlers. But by then I was too tired to attempt running off into the forest.
Plus, I had discovered two more wonderful facts about Tahquamenon Falls:
First, there is a brewery in the Upper Falls portion of the park. Yes, a brewery! In the park! Because what says, “Congratulations! You just hiked a ridiculously long, mushy, rooty, hilly four miles that you could have much more easily driven!” like a pint of microbrew beer?
And, secondly, there’s a shuttle you can take between the two sections of the falls so you don’t have to hike both ways.
You guys, it was as if the people at Tahquamenon State Park had read every single one of my dreams and made them a reality.
I mean, a brewery! In the park! And a shuttle ride back to my car!
It was like my version of Disneyland! (Except my version of Disneyland would have involved a lot less rooty bits and hills and mile marker signs that just seemed to be taunting me. And a lot more beautiful bits and beer.)
Have you ever gone on a hike to avoid other people? (Admit it, you totally have, right? I mean, I can’t be the only one!)