CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: September 2011

It was difficult to select the photos I want to feature in this update. I must admit that I love taking pictures with my camera and because I have taken so many pictures these past few months (since the last web page update), I have thousands from which to choose. During the summer months, it is especially fun to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets. This is the only time of the year that the sun rises and sets far enough north that we can see it out over the lake from Grand Marais. I don’t get down to the lakeside to take many shots of sunrises, but in early August I couldn’t sleep early one beautiful morning and I headed down to the breakwater at the end of coast guard point. Just as I pulled up next to the Lighthouse Keeper’s museum, a fishing boat was heading through the channel out into Lake Superior.

I have had almost no time this summer to agate hunt along the local beaches. One evening I did head east of town and squeezed in a few minutes walking along the rocks.

There are many sunset pictures in my archive from this summer, but here are a few of my favorites. The first one shows the sun setting over coast guard point. The second one shows the afterglow of sunset in the background (pink sky) and a couple of the sailboats in Grand Marais bay in the foreground.

I had two opportunities to capture couples enjoying sunsets. The first was taken at 12 Mile beach campground and the second was taken on a beach located just west of Munising. Notice Grand Island in the background.

We have had several storms this past month, many of which resulted in huge waves pounding the shore. Here are a couple of shots taken along the Mosquito-Chapel Loop hiking trail in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Some of the splashes from the waves were blasting more than 100 feet in the air! The second picture below was taken on the back side of Grand Portal Point away from the wind.

Here is yet another picture showing waves plummeting the breakwater and lighthouse in Grand Marais.

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: Spring 2011

It was again difficult to select pictures to feature in this update’s current Grand Marais scenes. Since I update the photoblog almost daily at www.agatelady.blogspot.com, there are a lot from which to choose. I decided to select pictures that capture the diversity of what you can see in the Grand Marais area if you are willing to get out and explore.

We’ll start out with some photos documenting the end of winter and beginning of spring. This is when the snow and ice begin to melt. Because sand is mixed in with the frozen precipitation, there are beautiful color schemes that develop during the melting phase. The first picture shows ice in the channel entering Grand Marais Bay. Shore ice hugging and extending from the beach is shown in the second photo. The tall structures in the third picture look like dunes, but they are actually 20-30 foot icebergs anchored right offshore. A storm the next day after I took this picture in early April broke apart the ice.

As many of you know, my favorite place to hike in the local area is the Grand Sable Dunes. This fantastic geologic formation contains some the world’s most pristine perched dunes. They cover a five-mile stretch of the Sable River and Au Sable point. Glacial ice that melted within the Superior Basin around 10,000 years ago produced many large rivers. These rivers deposited millions of tons of debris into many different configurations south of the Superior Basin. The Grand Sable Banks most likely originated along one of these glacial rivers.

Around 8,500 years ago, the Pictured Rocks area then became very dry when the Lake Superior basin changed its drainage pattern and began emptying to the north from its east end when this new outlet was the low spot. A north facing bluff formed and remained in place for 4,500 years right around the Grand Marais area.

Between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago, the landmass that is now the Upper Peninsula started to rebound upward from the weight of the previous ice glacier. This is called isocratic rebound. The U.P. is still rebounding today. The land forming the lake’s outlet at North Bay began to rise, which reduced the amount of outflow and caused water levels to rise rapidly. In fact, Lake Superior rose to about 40 feet higher than it is today! The rise in lake levels formed Lake Nipissing. Lake levels of Lake Nipissing also began to rise which caused the Grand Sable Banks to become unstable. The higher water eroded the bluffs which left them exposed to wind. A dominant northwesterly wind blew through the Grand Sable Banks which carried the wind from the bluff to the top of the flat upland. This sand was “perched” on top of the upland, hence the name, “perched dune system.”

The climate of the Grand Sable Dunes is typical of any Michigan climate. The winters are fairly long and cold while the summers are short and cool. The location of the dunes happens to be the second most cloudy area of the United States. The average cloud cover is approximately 70%. Grand Marais’ annual temperature is 40.8 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation totaling 31 inches a year. During the winter season, snowfall accumulation ranges from 130 to over 200 inches. Because the dunes are so close to Lake Superior extreme low temperatures in the winter and extremely high temperatures in the summer do not occur.

If you plan on taking the hike to the Grand Sable Dunes the best way to get there would be to take the trail that starts at the west end of the Sable Falls parking area. While on the trail you will walk through an old field and eventually cross over a bridge that runs about Sable Creek. For the next ¼ mile you will go through the forests and dune transition areas. Along the trail, stop and take a look at the wayside exhibits. Another way to access the dunes is through the north country trail while is located ¼ mile east of the log slide.

To the west of the dunes is Au Sable Point. Here is a shot of the point and the Au Sable Lighthouse from the south side of the dunes.
To the west of the dunes is Au Sable Point. Here is a shot of the point and the Au Sable Lighthouse from the south side of the dunes.

We have had quite a few freighters pass by Grand Marais as of late. Here is a shot from the hill south of town that shows a freighter passing by Grand Marais Bay.
We have had quite a few freighters pass by Grand Marais as of late. Here is a shot from the hill south of town that shows a freighter passing by Grand Marais Bay.

 

A hundred years ago and more the south shore of Lake Superior was known as the Grave Yard Coast. Many schooners (which were the ship of choice back then) were taken out by the storms of Lake Superior. I did some research this morning to find out more about the shipwrecks. There were three ships that went down in a storm on November 19, 1914. Here are some articles about the wrecks:

Seney, Mich., Nov. 21. — Life savers reported today that a total of 12 bodies have been found on the south shore of Lake Superior during the 35 hours’ search which followed the fearful gale that swept the lake Thursday. The four bodies found since the searchers previously reported were all of men. The two corpses of women have been unidentified. Among the wreckage cast ashore today were several life belts stenciled “Steamer Curtis.” As no trace of the steamer C. F. Curtis was been obtained and as it is considered certain that one of her schooners, the Annie M. Peterson, sank near Grand Marais, local marine men believe the Curtis also went to the bottom. It is also claimed there were only seven persons on board the Peterson. The Curtis was known to have been to wing the schooners Peterson and S. E. Marvin when the gale struck her. No wreckage of the Marvin has been found so far as searchers in this vicinity have been able to learn.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Nov. 21. — Up to a late hour today, the last 24 hours had revealed little information to clear up the mystery surrounding the fate of the steamer C. F. Curtis and the lumber laden schooners S. E. Marvin and Annie M. Peterson in tow of the Curtis, which were caught Thursday in the season’s most severe storm on Lake Superior. That the Peterson went down in “the grave yard of the Great Lakes” near Grand Marais, seems absolutely certain in view of her bodies and wreckage which have been washed ashore. Two of the eight bodies recovered last night were identified today as members of the Peterson’s crew. Whether some of the other bodies were from the Curtis or Marvin remained to be determined after identification had been made. The three missing vessels carried 26 persons in their combined crews. The fact that two of the bodies recovered were those of unidentified women caused many to believe the Curtis met the same fate as the Peterson inasmuch as it was thought one or both of women had been employed on that vessel. The sailing records did not reveal any women hands on the two schooners. The three ships cleared from Baraga with lumber for North Tonawanda, N.Y. Wednesday morning. They should have passed this port long ago, but were not heard from until the Peterson wreckage was found yesterday. None of the several other steamers which went aground along the upper lakes during the gale was seriously damaged according to reports today.

There were 3 sections of wreck exposed on the beach. The longest section is at least 100 foot in length. The C.F. Curtis propeller schooner was built in 1882 in Marine City, MI. She was 197 foot in length. The Selden E. Marvin was built in 1881 in Toledo, Ohio. She was 175 feet in length. The Annie F Peterson was built in Green Bay WI in 1874. She was 191 feet in length. It is unclear if the sections of wreckage are from one of these ships, or from multiple.

First, here is a photo of an 1871 schooner that may have resembled the ships that went down in the 1914 storm.
First, here is a photo of an 1871 schooner that may have resembled the ships that went down in the 1914 storm.

Here is a photo of part of the shipwreck that is now exposed on the beach ten miles east of Grand Marais.
Here is a photo of part of the shipwreck that is now exposed on the beach ten miles east of Grand Marais.

 

 

One of the best times to hike in Grand Marais is during the spring. Every day it seems like there is a new wildflower in bloom. It is also a fun time to hike the Pictured Rocks lakeshore trail. Below is a shot of a trillium-lined trail in the Park as well as a few taken on a hike in the Chapel Rock area.


And finally one of the sunset pictures I’ve taken in the past few weeks. It is always exciting in Grand Marais the first time the sun sets east of Au Sable Point – at least from the vantage point of the town.

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: Fall 2010

This has been an incredibly windy fall. The winds started Labor Day weekend and have continued off and on (but mostly on) for four months. In the Grand Marais area, we have had a few storms with wind speeds over 60 mph; one storm clocked winds at 84 mph!

We also have had a fairly normal start to the winter. In Grand Marais, we only have around ten inches of snow on the ground as of mid-December. There are areas south and west of town that have well over two feet! Due to the blowing and drifting, there are also several areas in the local woods and in the dunes with drifts that are several feet high.

The photos featured this month in Grand Marais Scenes start with a couple of fall pictures. Each September for the past ten years my sister, Diana, has visited from Holland, MI. We decided several years ago to explore the Upper Peninsula so that we can hike and take pictures. This year we rented a cabin and spent a couple of days having adventures in the Porcupine Mountains. What a treat! We happened to hit peak fall colors and also enjoyed spectacular weather. Here is a shot I took on a hiking trail that overlooks Lake of the Clouds.

In between shows during the few days this fall I was home, hiking friend Wendy and I were able to venture out a couple of times. Before the snow started, we hiked the Chapel Loop in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. This is around a nine-mile hike that takes you past Chapel Falls, Chapel Rock, Mosquito Beach, and Mosquito Falls. A couple of pictures taken during this hike are below. The first shows the fall colors on the trail to Chapel Falls.

 

Chapel Falls Trail

The next picture was taken of the cliffs located at the base of Grand Portal Point.

Wendy and I also hiked from the Log Slide to Au Sable Lighthouse a few times. Below is a picture of the lighthouse as well as one taken on the beach just east of the lighthouse.

NOTE: If you are interested in seeing more pictures of the Grand Marais, MI area, please visit my blog at www.agatelady.blogspot.com. I am not exactly sure what a blog is supposed to be. I use mine as a photo journal.

 

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: August and September 2010

We went from a hot August to a cool and windy September. My busy schedule has not allowed time for a lot of hikes. However, I was able to snap off a few pictures while visiting friends around town.

Since I didn’t have time to implement an August update, I’ll include pictures in this update from both August and September.  Let’s start with a picture from this year’s Grand Marais Music and Arts Festival.  We locals really appreciated Al Young returning to the stage – this time featuring his son, Nolan, on the saxophone.

There were several spectacular sunset photos from which to choose. I decided I like this picture taken while hiking in the dunes.

Many of the storms that have rolled through Grand Marais this past month have moved quickly. When that happens, sometimes you end up with a rainbow on the back end of the storm. In August, we were treated to a double rainbow over the bay. The rainbow appeared just before sunset, so the low sun angle gave us a special treat in terms of the rainbow’s quality. Thanks to Andy Mitchell for supplying the full-rainbow shot that my point-and-shoot digital camera could not capture.

Friend, Wendy, and I have hiked west from the Log Slide a couple of times lately. Here are two shots that were taken from the beach located under the footbridge around ¾ of the way down the trail. Both shots feature Jacobsville sandstone, which is the oldest sandstone in the park. It was formed during the pre-Cambrian period around a billion years ago. It is known for its multi-colored nature featuring iron-red staining. The stone has been quarried in places throughout the Upper Peninsula and has been used to make many buildings.

The storms have created some great picture taking opportunities. While at Whitefish Point in August, I captured the black clouds behind some of the museum’s buildings. Also, the waves have been intense before, during, and after the storms. On September 3rd while I was in Charlevoix at an art show, winds were clocked in Grand Marais as high as 72 mph! From what I have heard, waves were as high as 15 feet with some perhaps as high as 20 feet.

 

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: July 2010

The Grand Marais July 4th celebration was fantastic this year. The weather was warm, but a good time was had by all. I enjoyed visiting with a friend, Marsha Hendrickson, as well as my aunt and uncle, Lynne and Doug Kane. It is a challenge to get the timing right, especially with digital cameras that have a built-in focus delay, but I enjoy taking pictures of the fireworks. Below is one of the shots.


One of the advantages that we have on the south shore of Lake Superior is that we get to enjoy summer sunsets. I was home working and didn’t get down to the beach to capture the sunset over the lake, but even from my house, this fog-enhanced sunset was spectacular.

Things have been so busy lately that I have not been able to squeeze much time in for hiking. That is not a good thing since I am supposed to be training for my 15th Grand Canyon hike. I have until January, though, so there is still time. Last week I traded hours with Candace so I could have Sunday off. So hiking friend, Wendy, and I headed west and hiked the ten-mile Chapel Loop. It was a bit much since we haven’t been hiking, but we faired well and it was a beautiful day. Below are a few of the shots taken during the hike.

 

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: June 2010

Since I now maintain the blog at www.agatelady.blogspot.com as well as this web page and include photos on both — I was originally going to separate photos and not duplicate. That is difficult so I’ve decided that the photos on this web page will be my favorite from those included during the previous few weeks on the blog.

This month I am including a couple of photos taken during a hike from the Log Slide to Au Sable Lighthouse in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. There is a crew of people upgrading the lighthouse complex as well as restoring it to the 1910 era. The lighthouse tower has never looked so good.


Approximately halfway on the hike, there is a bridge that allows you to climb down and gain access to the beach. This is one of my favorite spots in the Grand Marais area.


I have started training early for another Grand Canyon hike that is scheduled for next January. Here is a photo I took during a dune hike of one of the many telegraph poles that at one time connected Au Sable Lighthouse with Grand Marais.


I recently had an invitation to golf on Mackinac Island. I had the opportunity to fly over instead of taking the ferry. Although I have flown over to the island before from St. Ignace, I have never done so during the warm months. The flight provided the opportunity to get this great shot of the Mackinac Bridge.


While on the island I was able to enjoy a sunset from a friend’s property, located on the west end of the island.

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: April/May 2010

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES

April/May 2010

Other than the day we had some snow in early May, which melted right away, it has been a beautiful spring. As is true everywhere else, the trees are leafing out, the trilliums are up, rocks are again exposed on the beach, and the days are getting longer. This transition in spring is even more dramatic in Grand Marais than it is in other areas. We especially enjoy the spring because all of the roads open up. It is great to be able to take a drive to see the beauty that is all around us.

Below are some shots that document spring in Grand Marais.

 

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: April 2010

Since I update the blog www.agatelady.blogspot.com on a regular basis, I have decided that from now on any photos that I include in the regular web page update will be different than those that are included in the blog update.

Of all the snowshoe and ski adventures I have been lucky enough to participate in this winter, the best adventure took place yesterday. It was in the 40s with brilliant sunshine. Friend, Wendy Lynn, and I headed into the dunes from Sable Lake and headed northwest. Our goal was to get to the highest point in the dunes, which is at around 900 feet above sea level. The sun has been so intense lately. This combined with the warm southerly winds has caused most of the snow in the dunes to have already melted. I would estimate that the spring thaw is at least a month ahead of schedule.

The views yesterday were incredible. Here is a photo I took from one of the highest dunes looking east. You can see the channel lighthouse in the upper left of the photo. In the upper right of the photo, you can see a small section of Grand Marais Bay as well as what is left of Lonesome Point.

From the bluff around 1/3 of the way across the dunes walking east to west, you can see how the southwest winds are pushing some of the “pancake” ice back out into the lake.

At this rate of snowmelt as well as ice break up, we will have early agate picking in Grand Marais this year. That is, of course, if we don’t get a late season snow storm.

Here is one more shot that was taken from up in the dunes, looking back toward the dunes that are next to Sable Lake.

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: February 2010

Although we have had snow cover in Grand Marais since early December, the total snowfall amount is much less than in previous years. We’ve only had one big storm, which occurred around Christmas time. In January, we have only received a few inches of snow. There is still a lot of winter left; we will have to see what Mother Nature has in store for us.

This month’s feature scenes are from some of the outdoor adventures I’ve had with friends.

The first couple of photos were taken while on a very adventurous bushwhacking cross-country ski trip in the school forest with friends Andy and Craig. I learned the hard way that it is not easy to ski in deep snow when you have skies meant for track skiing. After three falls and much effort, it was nice to see the Lake Superior beach from the vantage point east of town. The wind was definitely whipping off the lake, so we didn’t hang out at the bluff very long. Notice the beginning of the ice build-up, as well as the floating ice balls, waiting their turn to accumulate and become part of the rows of ice that hug the shore. I skied back to H58 on the snowmobile tracks, rather than bushwhacking. The second photo was taken on the trail next to the Sucker River.

A week or so after that I decided that I needed to get off my writing chair and go down to the beach; the wind had finally diminished after a couple of weeks of blowing, so museum assistant, Candace, and I snowshoed from the boardwalk in town down the beach to Sable Falls, and back. You can see from the first photo that the ice was piled on shore around ten or fifteen feet high. This shot was taken from in front of Woodland Park looking west. The next shot was taken of a teepee built on the beach by pre-winter tourists. They certainly had some time put into that project! Is anyone ready to move in? The third picture is Sable Falls. Yes, the waterfalls are hidden somewhere under all that ice.

The third week of January I went out of town with a friend, Dianna. It was a beautiful sunny day that drew us outside. In the winter, because of lake effect snow and clouds, we don’t have much of an opportunity to see the sun. We celebrated by skiing Canada Lakes in Newberry as well as Tahquamenon Falls, located north of Newberry. Below is a picture of Tahquamenon Falls, as well as a close up of some of the ice hanging from the cliffs next to the falls. The icicles in the latter picture are 70 or 80 feet long!

 

CURRENT GRAND MARAIS SCENES: Fall 2009

Travel has been occupying my time lately, so I have not been home enough to get out in Grand Marais very much. However, I do have a couple of fall color shots.

During my travels this past year, I have been looking for roadside Americana art. I saw two examples on my recent trip. The first is a fisherman creation in front of someone’s house.