Friday, July 15, 2011

Trap Hills Traverse

On Saturday, July 16th I will be thru-hiking the Trap Hills Traverse, a 28.3 mile section of the North Country Trail in the western part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula from the Gogebic Ridge Trail to Victoria Dam Road.  This was not planned or even thought of until this morning when I came across it in a Backpacker Magazine article from 2002.  I was immediately intrigued and after thinking and praying about it,  I was inspired to commit.  I am not seeking personal glory or gratification.  My motivation is the continual pursuit of understanding my purpose and pondering God's gift's to me.  I find peace under the skies of His amazing creation and hope to further explore my faith thinking about Ephesians 2:8 and a quote by Leo Buscaglia while afoot.

Ephesians 2:8 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

Leo Buscaglia - Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.

Though undeserving, I know that God will show His grace to me tomorrow by giving me strength and guidance, and by taking care of me on the journey.  It would be a bonus if He got me there in time to meet my ride back to the start:)

Michigan' Trap Hills
(Content courtesy of

As for the geologic history, the story begins about 1.1 billion years ago, as a great rift opened in the area now home to the Lake Superior basin. Molten lava flowed from the rift and across the landscape, and streams from surrounding highlands carried sediments into the rift basin. When the lava cooled and the sediments of sand and cobbles were cemented into rock, they formed layers of basalt, sandstone, and conglomerate, respectively. That the Trap Hills are here today is due largely to the hard, erosion-resistant nature of the basalt and conglomerate, which cap most of the ridges, and are also well-exposed where the ridges are cut by streams to form falls and gorges.  Another name for a basaltic lava flow is Trap Rock, or Trap; hence the name Trap Hills.

Between many of the rock ridges of the Trap Hills are found valleys of varying width, basically oriented north-south or northwest-southeast, and home to such streams as Bush and Whisky Hollow Creeks. Rock exposures are rare in these valleys, but perhaps numerous faults and fractures are present in the rocks there, causing those rocks to be susceptible weathering and to erosion by streams. Continental glaciers moving from north to south probably helped scour and smooth out these valleys as well. Other faults are likely responsible for the valleys of the smaller streams, like Gleason Creek, which flow southward off the bluffs.

History of the Trap Hills

Earliest human use of the Trap Hills began in prehistoric time, as native peoples occasionally used the area for hunting and extracted small quantities of copper from veins in the rock. This same copper attracted Europeans, who began exploring the hills toward the end of the first half of the 19th Century They were encouraged by Michigan State Geologist Douglass Houghton's reports of the copper deposits in the western U.P., and by the moving of the famous Ontonagon Boulder, a two-ton mass of copper, from its original location in the West Branch of the Ontonagon River near Victoria to Detroit. Both events took place in 1841, and by 1850 over a dozen mines and hundreds (or more) of exploration pits could be found in the Trap Hills. Most famous and successful of the mines were the Norwich Mine, north of the bridge over the West Branch on Norwich Road, and the Forest Mine at Victoria. Towns supporting these mines prospered in accordance with the success of the mine at the time; that success varied depending on the price of copper, the cost per ton to mine the copper, transportation issues, competition, and depletion of ore bodies.  By early in the 20th century, all mining had ceased, and the mines and their supporting communities began to be reclaimed by nature.