It rained overnight, and storms were in the forecast for Sunday. Would it be possible to take the tykes on a day hike featured in Falcon Guides' "Hiking the Upper Peninsula?" Actually, the prospect of getting away from camp chores, and getting in two Celeste naps in the car, was very enticing. It started raining just as we pulled away from camp for the hour-long drive to the trailhead. Celeste slept most of the way, and Sonja was eager to be in our backpack carrier on a hike. It stopped raining as we pulled up to the parking lot for Piers Gorge, where the Menominee River narrows to a couple hundred feet across, hemmed in by rock walls. The gorge harbors some of the best whitewater in the Midwest. The geography nerd in me loved that the river, and gorge, served as the border between Michigan and Wisconsin.
The out-and-back hike traverses rolling terrain for about 2.5 miles. Along the way there are four "piers," rock outcrops that lead to nice overlooks of the river. We also crossed two "troll" bridges, little wooden bridges over a pair of small creeks. White pines towered along the trail, some of the trees at least 2 feet across. The dense forest and damp conditions gave the gorge a Pacific Northwest feel.
After the hike, we drove to the mining town of Iron Mountain in search of lunch. We opted to go to a well-known pizza chain, one that encloses each of its locations with the same geometric red roofs. I honestly haven't been to one of the red-roofed locations in decades, but it proved a solid choice for the children and a nice respite after the hike.
All trip long we had discussed what we'd do if Sonja needed to use the potty in certain scenarios. We were stopped at a grocery store when Sonja volunteered that she needed to go potty. With Celeste in her car seat it seemed reasonable to stay near the car so I made the dubious decision to put the potty on the passenger seat. I then deposited Sonja onto the potty. She peed, yes, but getting down from the perch proved a challenge and some of the urine sloshed over the lip of the plastic commode and onto the passenger seat. I mopped up what I could but ended up sitting on a changing mat all the way back to the campground. Lesson learned.
It started to rain again as we approached camp, but we managed to stay dry. It eventually stopped raining long enough to make a nice fire, and we had hot dogs and mac and cheese again for dinner. Sonja and I went to a swing set in the evening and had ice cream at a nearby gas station -- Sonja opting for a sundae cone and a strawberry shortcake crunch for me.