Empire Bluffs

Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
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Trip End Oct 14, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Here's what the weather report said this morning: "We have a strong cold front rolling across the state making a huge change. Clouds and showers are heading back in as temperatures tumble into the upper 30's and 40's. Winds will let up a bit tonight down to 8-16 mph. It's truly going to feel like fall the next several days."

They weren't kidding. The first part of the morning started out as a fairly nice day. Breakfast was a slice of spinach quiche and my usual caffeinated beverage from Leelanau Coffee Roasters. I checked the lakefront, and it didn't seem too bad out there, but I noticed something odd...the lake had changed color. I mean - it REALLY changed color. The last few days it was sort of a dark deep blue. Today, the edges of it were a milky sort of a turquoise color around the edges and then a muddier shade of brownish-blue out in the middle. It was noticeably different and I wondered why - there must be some sort of natural phenomenon that happens prior to a storm that create that effect?

There were a few last-minute things I wanted to finish for tonight's presentation at the Glen Arbor Art Association building, so I knew I would only go out for the morning until lunch. My first stop was an area known as Inspiration Point that a man had told me about the day before. There's a terrific view of Glen Lake, Glen Arbor and out into Sleeping Bear Bay from here.

Empire is only six miles away from Glen Arbor, so I went to take another look at the beach. The morning light was lovely there, and breezes made for nice whitecaps on the water. And no more dead deer this morning on the beach either, thank goodness!

I did my usual search for a Petoskey stone - but no luck yet!

I still have this cold/bronchitis/crud, but this morning I was feeling pretty good and wanted to try another hike. I just haven't gotten in the hiking time as I had planned. I had been told many times the view from the Empire Bluffs Trail is amazing, and I didn't want to miss it. Since the trail is only about 1.5 miles round trip, I knew I could handle that.

If I hadn't gone here, I really would have missed out! What a beautiful place. The trail winds through some hardwood forest, and then through a bit of grassy open area where you can catch a glimpse of Sleeping Bear Dunes and South Bar Lake. Then there's a bit more of a hike up and around the corner through more hardwoods and pines - and you're on the face of the Empire Bluffs!

What a breathtaking view. Looking north you can see the little village of Empire below and the beach where I just came from, and one of the Manitou Islands (I believe it to be the South Manitou). To the south, you can see the area near where the Platte River empties out into Lake Michigan, and out towards Point Betsie. There's also a natural formation from an old tree - a remaining part of a ghost forest, that is known as the "Devil's Pitchfork". One look at this tree and you can plainly see why it was given that nickname!

Upon my arrival, the winds were fairly peaceful and calm, and the sun was just rising up over the Bluff. As soon as that sun made its appearance - the winds kicked in - hard! I almost lost my baseball cap down the side of the Bluff. After being up there for another half an hour, I just couldn't take that strong cold wind anymore, so I started to make my return trip to the parking lot. On the way back, I met 3 nice couples going up to the Bluff. The guys were all brothers, who along with their wives, meet up once a year and do some sort of trip together. They starting chatting with me - they were all very nice folks. I invited them to my evening presentation and left one of my brochures on their windshield when I made it back to the car.

I didn't really want to go back to the apartment, but photographing in the bright afternoon sunshine isn't the time to work. I returned to Glen Arbor, enjoying a few little spots of fall color in the trees along the way. It's a good thing I came back when I did anyway, because the weather started to turn ugly. By later in the afternoon, it was getting very overcast and it started to drizzle. It was a good evening to have the presentation, because I didn't have urge to run off and try to photograph the sunset! My host Midge Obata made a delicious apple cake, and there was wine, cheese, cider and other snacks provided for the guests. What a nice reception!

Much to my surprise, the folks I met hiking all showed up for the event, along with one of the Rangers from the Sleeping Bear NP who I had met with earlier in the week. Other members of the Glen Arbor Art Association came to watch. Being my first presentation, I didn't know what to expect, but it went well and I truly enjoyed myself. Everyone was very friendly and asked interesting questions (such as - do I have a favorite lens, what software do I use to process the images and keep track of them, etc.) After getting a taste of what it's like to present my work in this fashion, I can say I wouldn't mind doing it again at some point.

After packing up the presentation, that was pretty much the end of my evening. It's supposed to rain all day for the next couple of days, so I don't have very high hopes for catching good images.

If you'd like to see videos I played at this evening's presentation, you can click on the links below. Please be aware that they can take quite a bit of time to download, and might be best for those of you on a high-speed broadband or cable connection.

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