The Return to Agawa Rock


DSC00320.JPGAfter my previous trip to see the Agawa pictographs, I mentioned it to Wanda Perron, one of the Bay Mills historians, and she lent me a book about the pictographs written in 1992. While I knew I hadn’t gotten to all of the accessible pictographs because of the weather, official park literature told me that the last panel of pictographs was accessible only by boat. However, the book mentioned that if the water is calm and you are feeling adventuresome, you can veer off the coastal trail a bit a reach the other side of the rock. The potential for finding the remaining pictographs was enough to get me to go back this weekend, armed with a newer camera borrowed from the virtual museum project.
Saturday, before the alarm clock went off, I woke up at 5 am. As an extended aside, knowing the Olympics had started and that it was 5 pm in Beijng, I flipped on the TV and observed that while NBC was re-airing the opening ceremonies for a second time, the CBC (Canada) was airing live coverage of the first day of swimming prelims, including Michael Phelps first Olympic race. Guess which channel I watched… NBC take note.
After I had my Olympic fix, I got on the road. Before reaching the park, I took a detour to check out the Chippewa Falls. After stopping to get a park pass, I went straight to Agawa Rock where I found much calmer water than during my previous trip. (The two linked photos were taken at almost exactly the same spot.) As a result of the nicer weather, I saw both things I had seen before and was able to make it further down the rock and see pictographs that were new to me.
But that wasn’t the exciting part.

After I had my fill of the officially accessible pictographs, I decided it was time to try and find the last panel. Some friendly kayakers had described the other side of the rock for me, so I had a vague idea of what I was looking for. I headed south down the coastal trail and veered off when I thought was at the edge of the forested side of Agawa Rock. About 50 meters away from the trail, I found myself sitting on a smooth sloping rock leading right into the water that edged up against what I was sure was the back of Agawa Rock. After taking a few minutes to size up the situation, I carefully sidled my way around the corner and found… nothing.
Disappointed, I went back and sat on the larger rock face for a few minutes and ate some wild blueberries while I tried to figure out where the last panel of pictographs might be if this wasn’t it. Deciding that in fact, this must be it, I went down around the corner again and noticed a second corner. The waves were lapping a little to close to the edge of that corner, but I decided it was worth checking out.
As a first test, I reached my arm around with the camera and, much to my delight, pulled back a picture of pictographs! I can’t even begin to describe the thrill I got when I saw the image in my little two inch preview screen. Knowing what was around the corner, I sidled my way over and examined a second Misshepezhieu and a very faint turtle with a long tail.
At this point, I noticed some clouds rolling in and decided to head back up the cliff. Sure enough, no sooner than when I put my shoes back on at the top of the cliff, it started to rain. And then pour. And then hail. I dashed off down the trail to my car to dry off and found a change of clothes in the back seat — now I know where that putz shirt went!
Once the rain stopped, I decided to take the coastal trail north and see the sights, take a brief dip, eat some more wild berries, and saw a bear.
Oh yeah, the bear.
It was a small black bear, about 5 meters away from me, and by the time I noticed him, he was already running away from me. Still, I promptly started booking it back to the trailhead and didn’t stop to take anymore pictures. Don’t go hiking alone, kids — I am a bad example.
But the pictures I did take, including those of a sunset walk along the Pancake Bay beach, are here.


3 responses »

  1. So are we to take it that the Misshepezhieu (note the Chinese-like Angliciszed spelling of that word!) is an only lately extinct dinosaur, perhaps water dependent to carry its weight while it feeds, or the same animal that might feed upon the water dependent of other species that inhabited the lake and lakeside? — or does the info not speculate?
    AND is Misshepezhieu related in any way to Mississippi?

  2. According to the book I read, Misshepezhieu is the spirit of Lake Superior — sort of a demi-god figure. He is a giant lynx with horns on his head and spiny horns running down his spine and tail. It is when he slaps his tail that storms occur over the lake. The serpents are his assistants and have copper scales, which is the explanation for the copper deposits found in the area.
    As for the Mississippi relation, misi-ziibi means “great river” and misshepezhieu means “great lynx,” so I’m guessing that the only similarity is the word “misi” for “great.” (I wish I could find a more Anishinaabek spelling for misshepezhieu, but none of the sources I have seem to have one.)

  3. Well, thank you!
    If you learn more, I am all ears (and reader’s eyes) to learn more about this.
    Great lynx?
    I wonder what that tells us about longer-surviving “great lizards” and what they may have REALLY looked like. We have learned, within my lifetime,* that some had feathers; and I have long presumed that rudimentary feather development looks hair-like: “…note the younger birds of the nest, they are not naked, neither do they fly” so to speak.
    * LONG before we began reading about the birds being descendents of dinosaurs, I was talking about this possibility maong my college friends, some of whom were delighted with the prospect, others of whom rebuked it with derisive laughter after long evenings out drinking and chasing our classmates “of the opposite sex” (as we then thought of it). Today, we see pictures of those feathers in fossil forms and artist renderings of our now acknowledged feathered friends, some of the dinos.

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