The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Porkies lantern-lit event draws both locals, tourists

 

January 15, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

PARK INTERPRETER Bob Wild feeds a fire Saturday for people looking to warm themselves during a lantern-lit trek in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

By P.J. GLISSON

news@yourdailyglobe.com

Ontonagon - The Superior Loop at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a broad, winding trail, full of white winter quiet; but when nearly 80 kerosene lanterns illuminate the way, it becomes a romantic Victorian experience.

Such was the case Saturday evening when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offered a lantern-lit event for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Ontonagon County.

"It's a great venue for this," said Keith Snyder of Houghton, who had visited here before in the summer. As for snowshoeing, he said, "I've never done it before, but I plan to come back."

Snyder was among several participants who had traveled from out of town to enjoy the event.

As Anthony Schneider of Oshkosh, Wis., said, "We like to come here 'cause you guys have snow!" He said he'd spent the day downhill skiing and thought he might as well try the lantern trail, too.

With him was Laura Schuette of Appleton, Wis., who was enthusiastic about the atmosphere despite adding, "This is our first time doing anything like this."

Sarah and Chad Holsinger of Ishpeming said it was their first time here, although they've done snowshoeing elsewhere.

Locals such as Samantha Grace of Ironwood also participated. "My friend Rebecca told me about it. I just got snowshoes for Christmas, so I thought I'd take them for a whirl."

The Superior Loop is rated "easy," but it does have many bends and some minor rises and with the wind chill near zero, participants were happy to find a bonfire about halfway along the route.

DNR park interpreter Bob Wild was in charge of the fire, and he had beverages such as cocoa and hot cider available on a counter in the nearby White Birch cabin, which has its own little wood stove and a bench.

"If you believe in fate and destiny, I had no choice in my career path in life," said Wild, who has been leading such events for the past 12 years.

Wild said that roughly 40 to 70 people participate in each lantern event: "It really depends on the weather."

Everyone appreciated the break that Wild provided, with many persons approaching the fire while calling out, "Wow!" or "This is so nice!" or "Thank you!" or "Amazing!"

Rick and Cindy Sebring, who sat at the fire in their snowshoes, said they had just moved to Wakefield from Port Huron last October. Rick is a Michigan state trooper, and Cindy is a nurse at Aspirus Grand View.

"It's our first time doing this," said Cindy, and they were both appreciative of the opportunity. "The smell is as good as anything," said Rick of the fire.

Beyond that, said Emily Sackmann of Bessemer, "It's fun." She was there with husband Alex Sackmann, who also is a state trooper.

While getting refreshments in the cabin, Steve Fehlberg of Rockford, Ill., said he and his friends had been here to snowshoe last winter during the day, but had never tried the lantern trail until Saturday.

""It's awesome," he said, grinning. "It's a lot of fun."

Fehlberg was with John and Susanne Desmond of Machesney Park, Ill. "She came up here one time and wanted to buy a house," said John of his wife.

They now have a vacation home in Ontonagon, and Susanne, who works as a school teacher during the year, said, "I spent last summer decorating. It was fun."

Referring to Bailey, their English setter, and Remington, their yellow lab, Susanne said, "We'd go to the beach every day. I'd decorate a little, then take another walk."

According to Wild, additional lantern-lit treks will be held from 6-9 p.m. EST on Jan. 27, Feb. 10 and Feb. 24. The trail starts off from 107th Engineers Memorial Hwy. W., directly across from the entrance to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Ski Chalet.

Dogs are welcome as long as they are on 6-foot leashes and as long as their owners clean up their messes.

There also will be guided snowshoe hikes starting at 1 p.m. EST on Jan. 27 and Feb. 10. These hikes are of greater difficulty, as participants take a ski lift to a higher elevation and then, with a guide, break a fresh trail on the way down.

Events are free but a recreation passport is required for entry to the park. Equipment rentals are available within the ski chalet, which closes at 5 p.m. EST.

More information (including possible cancellations due to bad weather) is available by calling Wild at 906-885-5275 or by checking the DNR website at http://www.mi.gov/porkies.

 
 

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