Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan, U.S.A. – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan, U.S.A. – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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In the midst of our chaotic world, there are places where peace and solitude still exist, namely, within our national parks and landmarks. These lands and their keepers are devoted to the preservation of the exquisite natural beauty around us. I have been lucky enough to recently explore of one Lake Superior’s undiscovered wild gems, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. My mom and I are avid camping girls, and she makes an effort to plan a trip to a new out-of-state park every year. We were drawn to this park due to its unique landscape and 90 miles of hiking trail options. Located in Michigan, the park expands over 47,671 acres of the Upper Peninsula, with a 35,000-acre chunk considered to be the “biggest and best tract of virgin Northern Hardwoods in North America”, and has been named a National Natural Landmark by the Federal Government.

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Wrapped in a cocoon of mossy hemlocks and curly paper-birch boughs, this is the forest primeval. Around 2 billion years old, these mountains are some of the oldest in existence. Named by the Ojibwa after the resemblance to a crouched woodland porcupine, the mountains that give this park their name are breath-taking. They arise suddenly from Lake Superior to form a 12-mile long escarpment, or what is more commonly called a bluff or cliff. At the top of this bluff you see forest and sky for miles, roughly 25 miles on a clear day. You will also see The Lake of the Clouds, a glacial lake carved out millions of years ago, filled with sparkling blue water surrounded by the dense virgin forest. Surrounded in silence, listening only to what the earth had to say, our time spent in this park will never be forgotten.

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Before this area was designated a park, it was a hot bed for copper mining. Over the course of 65 years, 45 copper mines operated somewhere within the boundaries of the park. After mining was through, loggers arrived and took their toll, but in 1972 the Wilderness and Natural Areas Act was passed, forever protecting the land and adding to the beauty of North America for our future generations to enjoy as we do now. The protection of our wilderness is not at the forefront of our issues as a country, but it should be. Without these spaces, we will lose part of our history as a human race. As one author eloquently put it, “All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” — T.K. Whipple. Study out the Land. “Porcupine Mountains.” Michigan Department of Natural Resources. DNR, n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.


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Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

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20 Comments

Filed under Delaney Babich, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

20 responses to “Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan, U.S.A. – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

    • Maria Nowak

      This article is very important at this time in society. I completely agree with you that our wildlife and environment should be a bigger priority to our society. While different political issues seem to be at bigger hand right now, if we do not act quickly and efficiently, this will be a huge disaster in the future. How can we get more people to realize our roles are for protecting and conserving our world? Not everyone is an outdoorsy person, but everyone lives on this earth. We each need to do our part to make sure that we make smart choices when it comes to recycling, our waste management, and what we eat. What kind of worldly or environmental disaster needs to occur before more action is taken? Hopefully, one that will not be too late to fix. Thanks for your article!

  1. The pictures and descriptions you included are beautiful! I visited the Rocky Mountains this summer with some friends and learned quite a bit about the Wilderness and Natural Areas Act as well, something that is still greatly appreciated by many today. I agree with your statement that the protection of our wilderness should be placed at the forefront of issues in our country, and I would include care to reduce the human impact on the increasing rate of climate change along with that preservation of wildlife and wilderness. Not only are we losing a part of our human history, we are also harming the lives of many plants and animals that have a right to live out their time as a species. When humans neglect to protect the wilderness, we are also neglecting to protect our homes!

  2. Cassie Mahlberg

    It is so nice to see a touch of nature in the busy college life. Taking a trip to spend time in a national park could be very rewarding for the mind and soul. Your descriptions are beautiful and really give off a sense of the peace that you were experiencing. It isn’t typical for people to post about their relaxation (because others may consider it boring) but this was a good break from all of the chaos I’ve been reading in other media. Also, taking more time to recognize the necessity of our forests is important because we may lose them if we are not more careful about protecting them.

  3. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I think that it is awesome that you and your mom try to visit a new state park at least once a year. I never knew that these mountains existed and for them being one of the oldest landscapes I would think more people would know about them. thank you for the multiple pictures of the landscape. They help the reader really experience this fascinating place. I also agree with your statement that the protection of our wilderness is not at the forefront of our issues as a country, but it should be. We need to start to bring more attention to this problem because if we take a back seat we are still adding to the damage. Great Article!

  4. The title of your article caught my attention and intrigued me to read further on the topic. Environmentalism is an current issue that is important to me and I wish more people carried about the environment as much as I do. I agree with your statement: ‘’the protection of our wilderness is not at the forefront of our issues as a country, but it should be’’ because we often forget that the environment is what gives us life. The way you described your experience while visiting porcupine mountains wilderness state park felt as if you were reciting a poetry. I enjoyed the historical background information that you provided because it provided me with not only knowledge about national parks but explained the cultural significance of these places. I really like the quotation: ‘’named by the Ojibwa after the resemblance to a crouched woodland porcupine, the mountains that give this park their name are breathtaking’’. That quotation resonated with me because it a reminder of how much cultural influence the indigenous people had and have in the creation of the united states history and culture.

  5. Megan Gonrowski

    That last phrase from the quote is very interesting. “What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” I find it ironic that we are always looking to the past or to the future for something better. We never seem to be admiring the present. Something so great about nature is that it surrounds us in the here and now. It is important to preserve nature because it is the only thing that is constant in our lives. We can look at the same tree our great grandparents looked at and although it will have changed over time it is still just as beautiful. I am glad that the area you visited was saved from total destruction through mining so it can continue to inspire us with its beauty.

  6. Meghan Lozinski

    I spent a week in Glacier National Park this summer and the awe of the natural beauty you describe perfectly captures how I felt standing on top of the continental divide. It is saddening to see that so many people don’t see the importance of protecting such places, claiming it is a waste of money. I think programs that promote people to visit such natural beauties as well as educate about the importance of coming and visiting but leaving no mark is important to educating people about the importance these parks play in our country and maintaining natural animal life.

  7. Dylan Brovick

    I really enjoyed this article and agree that these areas are very important and need to be preserved. I’m thankful for legislation like the Wilderness and Natural ares act because it is important to keep these beautiful lands around for people to see. The land that could have been used for mining can now be used to show the true beauty of this country to a lot of people. There is a special bond that people have with nature and the outdoors and i believe that is because there is so mush awe and eye opening moments that people don’t get in their everyday hectic lives. This article now makes me want to go to the Porcupine Mountains and hike some of the 90 miles worth of trail.

  8. Emily hanson

    Thank you so much for sharing your views on local parks. I don’t think people in the upper Midwest area understand how lucky we are you have such beautiful and historical areas, such as this, right at our finger tips. I also like that you and your mom take trips every year to go explore a new one. One of my favorite parts about living in the Duluth area is my ability to travel to parks and hiking spots so easily. Post graduation, my biggest fear is living and being condemned to an area with a much farther commute to trails and some exploring. I hope you and your mother take another trip soon!

  9. Taylor Erickson

    Beautifully written, and beautiful pictures! There are so many things that struck a chord with me in this article. It’s so humbling to think that beautiful landmarks like this came far before humanity. The earth is not our own; we’re just borrowing it for awhile – and we’re not taking very good care of it! It’s frustrating that a lot of politicians talk a big game about taking better care of our planet, but it really isn’t a priority in this country. It’s heartbreaking to think so many places like this park have been lost already. The quote that you ended with is perfect; especially in the Western world, the important link between culture and land is often forgotten. We are all the poorer for it!

  10. McKenna Holman

    National Parks are some of my favorite places on Earth! They truly are home to the most beautiful places on earth. It’s incredible to go explore a nation park and just be surrounded by nature and a sense of calming. I 100% agree that the protection of our national parks should be at the forefront of our nation’s issues and that if we lose these parks we will lose a part of our nations history. History is so important and should be valued by everyone. I also love your quote at the end of your article, it really speaks to the importance of protecting our nations national parks.

  11. Ashley Kittelson

    I often hear friends saying they want to visit far-away places. Although I understand the intrigue of a foreign destination, my priority is exploring the Midwest. Articles such as this remind me there are numerous local adventures I have yet to take. Because this is such a large park, I could imagine each visit being a new adventure with new discoveries. I have never visited the Porcupine Mountains, but it’s going on my list now.

  12. Kalley Friederichs

    Delaney, thanks for sharing this experience with us! What a fun tradition you and your mom have started by going to a new state park each year. I found it very interesting that this area used to be a copper mine before it became a state park. It seems like it is usually the other way around. After reading your post and seeing your pictures it looks like you had a great time and that is defineitely a place I should check out sometime!

  13. amanda greene

    As a big camper myself, I have been drawn into this state park by Delaney’s pictures and descriptions. I have put it on the list of places to visit. It is so important to preserve our national and state parks, especially with the political circumstances we have now. I like how she described herself in the park as being “surrounded by silence”. I thought this was a great way to show how relaxing it can be to travel around in a state park. She brought up a point that I couldn’t agree more with. These parks show our history as a human race and if we lose them, then we lose our history. I think that we also lose sight of ourselves because we might think something, like Porcupine Mountains State Park, will be there forever, when that is not the case.

  14. Sarah Plankers

    Excellent article, I definitely am eager to see this park myself after you have described it’s beauty and peaceful environment. I think that it’s important to spend time in nature and reconnect with the natural world away from the hustle and bustle that goes along with city life. National Parks are SO important and vital to the preservation of the environment as well as some of the most historical pieces of land in the United States. The vast beauty and inexplicable calming nature of the park that you described is something I think can only be felt first hand, another reason its so good to get outside! During my time living in Duluth, I have done my best to explore and understand the “hidden gems” of the North Shore knowing full well that they calm and center me in a way that only Mother Nature can.

  15. Katie Peterson

    This state park looks gorgeous! I have never heard of it before, and I’ve also never been to Michigan, but now I wish I was out there hiking! Sometimes you just have to get outside away from the rest of the world and enjoy the peace and quiet of hiking trails. It is so amazing that there are “hidden gems” right on our own Lake Superior that we can travel to and feel like we’re exploring a whole new place. I do wish that protecting the wilderness would be a bigger concern for more people, and that more things would be done to protect places like Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park for future generations to enjoy. It is interesting that it had previously been a place for mining and logging, and so fortunate that one act getting passed helped to conserve the park. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Diana Deuel

    Hi Delany,
    This article was really fun to read! I love camping and I am jealous you have gone to so many state parks! I like to camp in the BWCA but I have never gone to a state park for camping. I am happy they have stopped mining and preserved the natural beauty. I believe outdoor education is really important! Keep writing about nature and your experiences!!
    Thank you!

  17. Joseph Ehrich

    Dear Delany,
    This article was amazing to read and I was taken away by the beauty of the pictures of Porcupine Mountain State Park. I did not know that this state park even existed and my breath was taken away of the beautiful mountains mixed with the dense forest. Still, I am still blown away that there are mountains this far up north as many mountain ranges are either on the east or west coast. The other thing that makes this state park stick out other then the beauty is the 90 miles of hiking trails which allows visitors to experience the beauty of the great outdoors. Overall, this state park and others like it allow people to escape civilization and feel the solitude of nature.

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