November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 12:01:34 MST Print View

My favorite type of adventure usually spans at least 5 days and averages 100-150 miles. This type of trip gives me the range to really explore an area and the time to become completely immersed in the process. Not all days are equal though. The first day is a gradual process of letting go of mundane stresses, expectations for the trip, mileage goals, and other thoughts that detract from the experience. By the second day, I am in the zone. Sense of time is lost and there is a heightened appreciation for the little moments like meals, views, or any experience that differs from the process of putting one foot in front of the other. This continues until the final day, when again I am all about goals, specifically to finish the trek and find a local restaurant. At trip’s end, I am usually both drained and elated, and the euphoria often lasts for days.

Unfortunately, there isn't always enough time for this sort of trip. I still need to get in my dirt time though, and this is where the 24 (or overnighter) comes into play. The problem with the 24 is that there is only the first day and the last day. Lost is that crucial middle part so vital for recharging my spirit. Additionally, it is hard to get the same sense of accomplishment because mileage and consequently ability to explore tends to be significantly more modest. If not well planned, the 24 can be a letdown.

I have two strategies for avoiding this. One is to take advantage of other means of self-propelled travel like biking, packrafting, or trail running to get out into the wilderness farther and faster. Dialing up the intensity and allowing me to see the wilderness in different ways enhances my sense of adventure and accomplishment. The second strategy is to focus on a goal other than hiking, like fishing or foraging. Here, participating in an activity with successes that are measured in ways other than mileage allows me to slip into a relaxed state relatively more quickly.

The snow had begun to fall in Michigan and I badly needed a night out. With only a limited time available, I was wracking my mind trying to come up with a suitable challenge. I had initially been thinking about a backcountry ski/packrafting trip but jettisoned this idea once Stephen M and I started talking about a Manistee River trip in the upcoming month. Instead, I decided to go up to Pictured Rocks in hopes of finding some ice to photograph. Ever since last winter’s trip, Pictured Rocks had haunted my dreams.

I woke at 1:30 am to the sound of our puppy asking to go out. Afterwards, as she snuggled back into bed warmly with my wife, I headed out into the cold darkness to begin my journey. The 6 hour car ride lulled me into a reverie that not even the flashing red lights in my rearview mirror could diminish for long. In my eagerness to begin, I had let my speed creep up on one of those long stretches of deserted highway.

Skiing out on the snowed in Little Beaver Lake Road. It was easy to make good time in this area, and I soon reached the White Pine Trail which would take me to the lakeshore. A narrow singletrack with many hills and tight turns, this trail greatly challenged my skiing ability.

Still smiling after a series of controlled falls

Along this trail, I discovered a large cave I hadn’t seen before. It even had a nice sleeping alcove in the back.

I continued along until I reached Twelve Mile Beach where I was momentarily disappointed not to find any shelf ice. Putting aside my expectations, I was quickly mesmerized by the surreal beauty of the lakeshore

Slabs of mud formed by the crashing surf

Waves batter the frozen shoreline in the Coves section of the trail

Twisted roots

A secluded cove

Looking out over layers of color

A precarious perch

My grumbling stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten in hours. Thanks to a recent trip with Stephen Mullen, I was deep in the throes of a raging cheese addiction. Suddenly, it wasn’t enough to have a little sausage and cheese. Now I had to have a whole freaking cheese board.

Shown here: Chorizo, red dragon, drunken goat, and onion and chive cottswold.

The cliffs were hung with yellow ice, a product of the same mineral that colored the sandstone

spray falls
Looking toward Spray Falls. Note the stunted forest of ice frosted trees, hapless victims of the freezing mist from the falls

Nearing Spray Falls, the trail became nearly impassable. Along the cliffs, I had struggled with the constant entanglement of my skis in the dense growth that choked the trail. Now I had to literally crawl through this ice maze, dragging my pack and skis and cursing cheerfully

brush on cliff
I won’t comment on where I was standing to get this shot

At the top of Spray Falls looking out

My favorite tree

A frozen Chapel Creek flowing into Lake Superior

chapel beach
Chapel Rock battered by the waves

Looking toward Grand Portal Point as daylight fades into dusk

Grand Portal Point

Cliffs at dusk

An angry sky

As darkness fell, I continued on towards my chosen campsite at Mosquito Beach. Not wanting to waste time with shelter, I tossed down my bivy on a thinning patch of snow and got to work cooking dinner, my favorite pasta with chicken in a San Marzano tomato sauce. I snuggled into my downy quilt as I ate, content with the way the day had gone. I was asleep by 7 pm.

I woke in the darkness, firing up my stove from the comfortable warmth of my quilt to brew some coffee. I was on my way by first light, skiing the trail from Mosquito Beach back towards Chapel Lake Road. The trail was wide and easy to navigate, making for some of the most enjoyable skiing of the trip.


Arriving at the snowed in trailhead, I skied the 5 miles up Chapel Road and another 5 along H58 back to my car. This section was no fun (rutted, rocky, uphill all the way), but I looked at it as due payment for the trip. Arms raised in victory as I caught first glimpse of my car, I headed out in search of breakfast.

Edited by Ike on 01/14/2013 12:29:02 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 12:29:07 MST Print View

Fabolous trip report as always Ike, I am glad you caught the cheese lust :-)

Edited by stephenm on 01/14/2013 12:32:41 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 19:04:29 MST Print View


I have run out of words for your trip reports! Thank you, thank you.

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 19:46:58 MST Print View

I like Ike!

Especially like the photos of chapel rock and yellow ice. Super lighting, color saturation, and composition.


Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 21:25:12 MST Print View

Really enjoyed this. Thank you.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/14/2013 21:45:22 MST Print View

You're becoming one of my solo trip heroes.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/15/2013 11:42:09 MST Print View

Ike, awesome photos and from the sound of it, quite an awesome trip too! Jealous.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/15/2013 11:47:33 MST Print View

Great shots Ike. What a neat setting. The almost tropical blue of the water belies the fact it's probably just above freezing!

Thanks for sharing. You're a steady stream of high quality trip reports!

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/15/2013 12:13:36 MST Print View

Just beautiful!

Clint Newitt
(cnewitt) - F

Locale: Utah
Nice trip!!! - ski gear ?'s on 01/15/2013 16:20:25 MST Print View

This is a beautifully written and photographed trip report. You are definitely inspiring me to get out and enjoy the winter.

If I may get off the trip report for a bit, I am interested in adding skiing to my outings so I'm interested in what gear you're using. I don't plan to get into serious vertical stuff, just some nice rolling terrain where skiis will be faster than showshoes and increase the fun on gentle descents. From the little I know, it seems like Nordic Backcountry gear (metal edges) will fit the bill. Is this what you use? What skiis, bindings, boots and poles specifically? Would you make any changes to what you have? Thanks, again a nice writeup.

Edited by cnewitt on 01/15/2013 16:21:57 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/15/2013 18:03:43 MST Print View

Excellent trip report, Ike. A very well planned and executed quickie that extracted the max out of a very short time span. It also took me back to a long ago time when I was a kid growing up in that neck of the woods. Classic Northern Michigan at its best. As for the pictures, all I can say is WOW, you are a master! Thanks for sharing.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/15/2013 18:16:03 MST Print View

Excellent trips and food for thought. What were the lows?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: comments on 01/16/2013 09:08:01 MST Print View

Thank you all for the really nice comments. A number of you were truly inspirational in my move towards a greater interest in photography and composition.

Clint- As a novice skier, I'm probably not the best one to comment on ski gear. I have a very basic NNN-BC setup. (Alpina BC5 boots, Rottefella NNN-BC magnum bindings, Alpina Red Tail (Discovery) waxless skis, cheap aluminum poles). The skis are an inexpensive, do-all ski for the midwest- just narrow enough at 68 mm to squeeze into groomed tracks, wide enough for floatation in the backcountry, short enough (170) to facilitate turning, and cheap enough that I don't get too upset about the number of dings I put in them. Would I do anything different? A beefier boot for more technical terrain or downhills, but my light boots do pretty well with most of the stuff here. The only useful advice I can really give is to get something and get out there.

HK- the midwest has been unseasonably warm this winter. Lows were around 22F.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/16/2013 10:13:14 MST Print View

Loved this tremendously Ike. You've progressed your outings quite a bit over the years, it motivates me to think outside the box more. I should ask myself, "What would Ike do?"

Photography on trips can be a hassle sometimes, figuring out how to integrate it into the moment isnt always a natural process. Improving your craft is important and adds to the quality. It may be more enjoyable for us as a witness to your experience through your photographs and words, than it was for you to put the work into posting. I can empathize with you regarding the time that goes into these.

Thanks for sharing your trip here and improving the value of this site.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/16/2013 13:04:24 MST Print View


Stunning the shots of the sea shore with the ice and the lone tree on a pilar of sandstone.

Amazing contrast of elements there.

Appreciate your taking the time to write up a great trip report with great photos to take us along your journey.


spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/17/2013 10:21:02 MST Print View

Amazing pictures. Looks like it was a great trip. I am with you on the cheese!

Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Sweet recap! on 01/17/2013 15:42:27 MST Print View

Fantastic photos and writeup!

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/19/2013 13:01:17 MST Print View

Great pictures and write up Ike. This is definitely pushing me toward a winter trip.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Anatomy of a 24: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on 01/19/2013 14:29:34 MST Print View

Ike, awesome again. We were gonna go right after Christmas, but a case of bronchitis kept us home. I recognize that little cave you're by. I crawled inside it when I was there, and found a cave painting. I like to imagine that it is countless years old and authentic, but I'm not holding out any hopes. Looks cool though! Maybe a deer, elk, or moose?

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Camera? on 01/22/2013 05:27:06 MST Print View

What kind of camera did you use?