Fresh off Shepler’s Ferry at Mackinac Island, I turned right and walked along Main Street. I passed by touristy shops and stopped into a few upscale clothing stores.
While the clothes were just my style, I didn’t buy a thing. And besides, I would think that an “end of season sale” would be better than 40% off original price!
I strolled straight by a couple fudge stores, too, saving that until later in the day. And I’m definitely not the type to buy touristy t-shirts or gimmicky gobbledegook, so I passed by those stores too.
Eventually I made it to the end of the main part of town, and then decided to diverge off the main drag and visit Fort Mackinac. The suprise was on me, though, because to get into the fort, I had to walk to the North Gate. And that was a long hike up a very large hill.
Climbing The Hill
First stop along the trek was the Missionary Bark Chapel. This reconstruction is reminiscent of those built by Jesuit missionaries in the late 1600s.
In the picture below, the Missionary Bark Chapel is on the left, under that big tree. Normally, you can enter the fort from here – and there is a gently sloped walkway. Many areas of the fort are accessible for people with disabilities.
However, because I was there on the last day the fort was open for the summer season, I had to climb the bluff.
Further up the bluff, I stopped to take a picture of where I had come from. Can you find the tree and Missionary Bark Church on the left?
It really was worth the hike because there were few people, and the views were simply stunning.
There is the Mackinac Bridge with the white of Grand Hotel on the right side of one of the hotel’s golf courses.
After the climb, the land leveled out and it was just a short walk along a tree-covered road to the fort.
The climb to the North Gate was definitely worth it, and really only took fifteen or twenty minutes. The $13 admission price seemed a little steep for the last day of the season. But after that walk, I wasn’t about to turn around and go back into town as others had done before me.
Normally teeming with vacationers, the fort was peaceful. The parade ground was pratically deserted, save for a demonstration from two actors in period costume. I’m sure they’d both been working all summer.
Each building had informational displays. There were even period-specific animatronic displays like this one showing the War of 1812.
The fort was founded during the America Revolution, and saw active duty until 1895. And throghout that time, officers and their families all lived in the Fort. But I wasn’t really there for the history.
Leave it to me to find a slice of solitude in an otherwise peopled place. The deck of the Officer’s Wood Quarters bustles through the summer season, but now, on the last weekend of October, it was mine. Well, mine and an occasional couple or one of the actors strolling the grounds.
Voices floated up the bluff from town, horses hooves made their last journeys for the summer, and boats toting tourists docked and departed. And on the deck, the warmth of the sun, a cool breeze, and a view that couldn’t be beat.
Let’s Hear It For The Views
The long porch at the Officers’ Hill Quarters provided a shady spot to rest, but the view of the Straits of Mackinac were too enticing.
The view from the West Blockhouse and guard booth included the bridge and Grand Hotel…
…while another overlooked the Straits towards town and docks.
A cannon stood watch over the harbor,
and wooden buckets awaited storage for the winter.
I stayed perhaps two hours, barely speaking with anyone. It was lovely.
The exit stairs were steep and reminded me of Peru. I was thankful I didn’t have to walk up
After the fort, I walked through town, wandered in and out of shops, bought a book, and topped the day off with three large slices of fudge: chocolate cherry, butter pecan, and maple walnut. Fudge is a tradition on Mackinac Island, so how could I not buy some to take home and enjoy?
Stop by tomorrow to read about my journey to Grand Hotel and walk around the gardens with me.