Bond Falls At Last

This winter I tried and failed to see the Upper Peninsula’s Bond Falls, foiled by the icy stairs. Well, yesterday I went back, and thanks to the recent snow melt the falls turned out to be very impressive.


019Most of my photos came out a bit overexposed, but oh well, I was just messing around with friends. You know you’re hanging out with naturalists when you end up spending most of your time with your backs to the big waterfall, admiring the vegetation. Most of the wildflowers weren’t blooming yet so we quizzed ourselves on identifying them by the leaves alone – Canada mayflower, starflower, blue bead lily, Solomon’s seal, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, etc. etc. etc.

017 (768x1024)This was my last weekend free before I leave for Oregon, so I’m glad I got to cram in a bit more local sightseeing. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday!


On Almost Seeing Bond Falls

On Monday afternoon, I impulsively decided to grab my camera and go check out Bond Falls, which is supposed to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula  I’ve been living within a thirty minute drive of it for a year and a half now and had yet to go see it, so when someone happened to mention it at a meeting that morning, I decided it was time.

Unfortunately I wasn’t planning on the fact that to reach the overlook at the base of the main waterfall, I would have to descend a set of steep stairs, which at this time of year were covered in a layer of snow and ice. Really, you couldn’t even see the stairs, just a very steep slope with a thick glaze of ice and the slight suggestion of the outlines of stairs visible underneath. I think if I’d known my way around I could have found a way down, but I stared at this for a long moment and decided it wasn’t risking my neck and (worse) my expensive camera, so I turned around and took some photos of the smaller cascades upstream instead.

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Not too shabby! This is on the middle branch of the Ontonagan River. The series of falls and rapids is natural, but there’s a dam a short ways upstream that keeps the flow of water fairly steady. (Fun fact: “flowage” is Yooper*-speak for what most of us would call a reservoir. The body of water behind the dam is the “Bond Falls Flowage.”)

Have you all seen those photos of waterfalls where the photographer uses a slower shutter speed to capture the movement of the water, so that it looks all soft and misty? I wanted to try that, but I didn’t have a tripod, so I wedged my camera into the forked trunk of the cedar tree that you can see on the left in the above photo. Here is the result.

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It’s overexposed, of course (is there a trick for taking this kind of photo without it coming out looking overexposed?), but not bad for a first attempt. I like the effect.

For anyone who remembers my post on not seeing O Kun de Kun Falls last summer, I swear I’m not purposely writing a series of posts on failed attempts to see the Upper Peninsula’s waterfalls. I’m determined to actually lay eyes on both of them this spring, once hiking becomes possible again. Until then, this will have to do.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that there is a much easier way to get to the base of the falls. Apparently I parked in the wrong place. Oh well, I’ll go back.

*Yooper: someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula, better known as “da U.P.” The people of the Lower Peninsula are called trolls. Why? Because they live under the bridge, of course.