Yesterday I had a few hours to kill and decided to do some exploration. I had my kayak on my car, and thought it would be nice to put it in the water, so I set off so find a small lake to paddle around… somewhere between Sagola and Iron Mountain, Michigan. Knowing me, it wouldn’t be any fun unless I drove my car a few miles down a road that isn’t really meant for anything without high clearance… even though there was an easier way to access the same body of water! I found myself at one of the Groveland Mine Ponds, within the Copper Country State Forest, in Dickinson County, in the western Upper Peninsula. The crumbling iron ore processing plant itself was visible at a distance, out of operation since the 1980’s. The ponds used to be used as reservoirs to hold water for use at the plant, but they, and thousands of acres around them, were given to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources after the mind permanently closed.
At first glance it didn’t seem like much, and the 5 boat trailers in the parking lot made me wonder if I’d be able to get any peaceful paddling in with all the fishermen around. A flooded forest made up much of the lake, and provided obstacles to dodge – sometimes a veritable field of small stems, other times widely-spaced larger pines, birch, etc, recognizable by the forms, wood, or scraps of bark hanging on. By the time I’d gotten around most of it, though, I was pretty happy with my new find. In fact, I wished I had my camera to get photographs of some awesome events, like an osprey buzzing my boat, so close that I could see every feather in its breast and tail! Or the deer that waded out nearly to meet me, deciding that my drifting boat wasn’t a threat, and idly using its white tail to shoo away flies, rather than raise the alarm. So… even as all the other boats were pulling out in the face of an impending storm, I went back to the boat landing and grabbed my phone, so I could take a few shots of the wonders of the Pond.