Updated: Jun 21, 2021
When two trolls, from under the bridge, head north to find cool rocks, they find adventure and breath taking views instead.
It's no secret that Yoopers have a culture all of their own. Steeped in local mining history, and over flowing with beauty, Michigans Upper Peninsula could never disappoint. Even when we strike out rock hounding.
Sandie and I embarked on a seven hour drive to a remote location. Sure, camping is great and more economical, but sometimes we enjoy having the comforts of home and book with Airbnb. This was one of those times, because the fall air seemed a bit too brisk and the fear of bears a bit too real. Little phobias can prick away at your goose skin, leaving wounds easily infected by ones own anxieties. Our desolate and rustic location left us looking over our shoulders at the drop of a leaf. And then there was this...
He loomed over us on a ledge in the kitchen. looking like he might leap down and strike without warning. I found myself checking to make sure he hadn't made any moves. To say the least, he added to the creeps I was already feeling.
I think there is a grandiose feeling you get in the upper peninsula, and its easy to equate that feeling with fear. I mean, the experience starts with a trip across the expansive, five mile long Mackinac bridge, and never fails to leave me feeling on edge. You have to understand that you are entering a territory that is ruled by the wild, and and anything could happen. You have to respect that, however, the results are sublime.
As I have said before, rock hounding isn't always about what you find, but about the experiences you have. On a tip, we made the trek to Copper Harbors High Rock Bay. At the end of Us-41 you come to a logging road called Mandan. And as I have also said before about infectious anxieties, the off road element of this trip had us reeling! Although, I tend to be a bit dramatic, I was truly unsure if we were going to make it. The puddles looked deep and seemed to have a current. We waited a top a hill overlooking what seemed to be a small pond deciding to whether, or not to go any further. I had no phone service. I worried how we would get help, if we got stuck. I began to hear a loud roaring ahead. A truck appeared before us, and without hesitation crashed down into the puddle before us and drove past. So, we bucked up, I leaned down and engaged the four wheel drive, and we forged on!
I regret nothing, not even the scratches I put in the side of the truck as I veered too close to the trees, trying to avoid mud or large ruts.
We knew what any seasoned rock hound would say, we should have come in the spring after the ice flows melt and churn up a new batch of agates. That would likely have been more productive, and we might have already found some agates. Luckily, we are fond of the prevalent Unakites, otherwise we might have gone away empty handed.
I gained some confidence on the drive out. Knowing that my truck could power through the rugged conditions allowed me to relax and enjoy the bumpy ride. It only took half as much time to out, than it did to get in.
What do you do when there is nothing to find? Take in the sights!
We found The Walmart of rocks, Prospectors Paradise. I picked up a few strands of beads, and some spirit stone.
There was a lot of cool stuff to see, like these stones from India.
Then we moved on down the road to consult a local expert, and see if more could be done to improve our agate hunting skills. We planned this trip hoping to find a few agates, so we wanted to gain as much experience as we could before we tried our luck again.
That is where we met The Agatelady. We swapped a few stories and then we consulted her for some agate hunting advice. She directed us to her latest book.
I purchased a copy, and a Sardonyx agate from Madagascar. The book had some valuable pieces of information to tuck away, and if you're interested in agate hunting, you should stop in, see the museum and grab a copy too.
Afterwards we got back on the water and began to apply some of the Agatelady's principals for successful agate hunting. Low and behold, we each found a small agate!
We really wanted to go to our old tried and true, favorite UP picking location, but we didn't have enough time. Dusk was quickly approaching. We decided to find a room, and gear up for an evening of Yooperlite hunting. Again, my anxieties were getting the best of me as we made our way down to the beach in the dark. But then I saw how many little purple lights shined all along the shore. There were quite a few people in search of the glowing stones, and instead of being scared of the dark, I became scared that all the good ones had already been found. Our little purple lights were not quite as strong as some of the other hunters on the beach, and we began to feel disadvantaged. However, our dim little lights were good enough for Sandie to snag this cute little pink one, missed by the other hunters.
We went from one side of the peninsula to the other, and didn't experience even half of what the area had to offer. There are so many sights we have yet to see, and rocks we have yet to find. It's no wonder, we're already planing another trip for the spring!