Rock Hunting and Beer Drinking In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

I got back last week from a little trip up north with my brother. My brother is a marathon runner and fitness buff. We brought his two kayaks and his two mountain bikes (apparently my Huffy did not make the grade for this trip!). Our goal: To get to the Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Now my brother is not much of a rockhound, but we can agree on one thing: beer. He brought with him a micro-brews of Michigan pamphlet and we used that as our guide.

We visited Elk Rapids (lower peninsula Michigan) the first day, as my brother is interested in buying a cottage on Elk Lake. We kayaked the lake for a number of miles, then hit a small bar/grill just west of there on our next stop, Big Twin Lake. We used to vacation there as kids and haven’t been there since. Big Twin Lake is a gorgeous spring fed lake with incredible clear water. We kayaked the entire lake (only 3 miles) and gawked at the beautiful cottages there. By then, it was getting late and we drove across the Mackinaw Bridge and got a hotel in St. Ignace. Of course, we had a few beers at a local pub. I tried some Keweenaw Brewing Pub Black Widow on tab…awesome.

We made it to Houghton the next day and stopped at Dayooper’s Rock Shop along the way where the nice lady there identified my infamous orange sphere as basalt and agate (a nice rare one at that). In Houghton, we ate (and drank) at the Library Brew Pub. Terrible name, but awesome brew and food! We tried to hit the Keweenaw Brew Pub but missed last call! It was a Sunday and all was dead.

On the way to Copper Harbor the next day, we stopped at an incredible rock shop called, Prospector’s Paradise. The place was huge and loaded with everything you can imagine. Highly recommended stop if you’re ever up that way. The kind owner there drew a map for me to find some mine dump piles as well as some beach areas on Lake Superior to look for agates. We hit a couple mine dumps and found plenty of cool looking rocks. I brought home a couple five gallon buckets full and about half had copper in them. Now, I have no experience in identifying the good ones, but I imagine if you knew specifically what you were looking for you could find some great finds. We didn’t stay too long as I didn’t want to bore my brother too long and we had beer drinking to do, but I could have stayed there all day!

In Copper Harbor we mountain biked and kayaked the harbor. Lake Superior was incredibly calm and clear. We had no luck looking for agates on the beach and didn’t try long, unfortunately. We did make it in to the local brew pub called, The Brickside. Once again, great beer. I limit my micro-brew intake to two pints (per visit/two visit limit per day), however my brother does not… We had a great time and the hotel we stayed at was a mere stumbling distance from the brewery. My brother tried to urinate in the drapes later that night…it was awesome.

Our final stop was Escanaba. We ate/drank at Hereford and Hops Brewery. I think that may have been the first meal I had on the trip that didn’t have any white fish in it (if you’ve ever been to the U.P. you might understand…white fish/pasties/jerky are not hard too find)! I did stop at the beach on Lake Michigan near the mouth of the river. The entire beach was covered with slag. Of course I loaded up on it. It was mostly green/grey/black. I did find a couple small pieces of brilliant blue and imagine there are more of those to find if you look hard enough. I’ll be making a few spheres from this stuff.

Along the entire way, I also made several beautiful sound recordings (waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, fans, air conditioners) to add to the next update of my iphone app “AtmoSpheres“. If you haven’t checked that out yet and have an IOS device, I’d love for you to give it a try!

Overall it was an awesome trip. Great weather, beer, food, and the scenery was incredible. Check some of the pictures!