08/23 - Day 6 started around 4am when a car alarm went off outside my room. I looked out the window and thought it might be my Jeep, but it wasn’t. This repeated around 6am and 8am as well. I guess some girl was sleeping in her car, had to pee and then locked her keys in the car. Why she did it three times, I have no idea? Not even sure if the story is legit, but that’s what they told me in the lodge in the morning while I was eating breakfast.
Day 6 actually started around 9am when I heard grunting outside my window. I walked outside and there was a bull moose standing about 10 feet away from me! I’m on the second story so no danger. That took my moose sighting tally up to four.
After grabbing breakfast I headed towards the Medicine Wheel which is, according to the pamphlet, “a large wheel measuring approximately 80 feet in diameter.” It goes on from there, but basically it is a very sacred site for Native Americans and as many as 80 tribes make pilgrimages to visit it. Additionally, there are occasionally tribal rituals performed at the site. It’s origin and age are unknown, but estimated to have been built between 1200 and 1700 AD. That does not seem right, googling… Wikipedia says 1050 and 1450 AD. No one is sure of the origin, but it is believed to have spiritual significance. It’s about a 3 mile hike, round trip, to visit the wheel and back at close to 10,000 feet of elevation. All in all, I would have to say this was a let down, perhaps it wouldn’t have been if it had the spiritual significance that it has to the native tribes. It would; however, have been well worth the visit if there had been a ritual being performed during my visit. The ranger explained to me that most rituals are open to the public because they want to share their native culture with others; however, occasionally there are private ceremonies where visitors are asked to wait at the parking lot before approaching, but apparently these are very rare. Both events however are often unannounced to the park and just sort of happen when everyone arrives.
After returning from the Medicine Wheel I trekked off to visit Porcupine Falls. I met a couple from South Dakota there that had just completed the hike and were having lunch. I chatted with them for awhile and decided I would rather visit Bucking Mule Falls, further down the road. I didn’t really have time to do both since I had to get to registration 30 miles away from the falls by 5ish. The couple I met said they might check that out as well.
I’ve gotten mixed information on the hiking distance to get there, but my hiking guide says 2 miles one way. If I had to guess I would have said it seemed longer. I packed up a couple lenses and my camera, along with water and a shirt. As I was getting geared up the couple I met earlier arrived, I said hi and took off.
The trail was amazing! It was a sandy dirt trail with rocky parts, but it had amazing views and one stream crossing. I encountered a couple sets of hikers along the way, one told me to make sure to walk all the way out to the overlook so I can see the whole falls. One other hiker I met was a political science teacher who was excited to learn I was from Ohio and wanted to hear my perspective about which way Ohio would swing this fall. To which I replied, “what happens this fall?” Ok, that part didn’t happen, but if I hadn’t been O2 deprived I probably would have said that. We chatted for awhile and then I was back on the trail. This trail would make an amazing mountain bike trail, albeit a very difficult trail in parts. Eventually I could hear the roar of the falls in the background and there was this giant rock outcropping across from the falls where I walked out. Holy crap, talk about a vertigo inducing view! It was stunning. I carefully worked my way to the edge to take some photos and the couple I saw in the parking lot eventually caught up.
They were also blown away. We talked for awhile, I got a homemade cookie and then took off on my way back. I had a stone in my shoe that kept nagging me that I couldn’t seem to get out. I stopped a couple times to shake it out, but I finally realized it was blisters :( At this point I was running a bit behind my schedule so I picked up the pace and got back to the parking lot pretty quickly and took off for the Elk View Inn where the jambo check-in was taking place. On the way to the Elk View, a moose cow ran in front of me on the road, moose tally now five. She ran off pretty fast and since I was in a hurry I didn’t try to get a bunch of photos of her. I ended up getting to registration around 5:30 which was timed just about right since I needed to be there between 5 and 7.
After vehicle inspection and trail signups, I grabbed a bite to eat at the Inn and took off to try to find some more wildlife. At this point I’ve seen five moose, but none of the settings have been ideal, mainly no sunlight. They were always hanging out in the shade, so I wanted to try to find a moose in a sunny meadow. Defeated I headed back to the Arrowhead Lodge, where I’m staying and saw another bull moose, not far from the lodge. I think this is a repeat sighting of the same moose, but it’s the sixth sighting in two days. From what they told me at breakfast, there are two bulls that hang around the lodge, a big one and a small one, but so far I think I’ve only seen the smaller one.
On a side note, it’s been three days now without any cell service. It’s weird.
Tomorrow, the Jeeping begins!