Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Path Full of Agates

Today is beautiful with that warm sunshine.  I finally got out to a spot I've been wanting to show you for a while.  Check out this video (I hope it works!) for a walk along a ridge heavily populated with agates.  As always, Mr. Butters found his way on camera too.

Don't worry, I'm going to leave all those precious little gems right where I found them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Walking to an... island?

With the lake level lower than usual, Springtime is the best time to get out to places that are usually sunk in water.  Some people explore freshly exposed ridges to look for stones.  Others use the protruding rocks as stepping stones to other lands.  Today I did the latter.  I walked to Porter's Island.

This is not the first year one has been able to walk from Hunter's Point to Porter's Island.  I remember doing it four(?) years ago.  I see fishermen out there now, casting their luck.  Here is a view of the island from the 6th Street dock.  Notice on the left, a walkway of stones from Hunter's Point.

I've never circumnavigated the whole island by foot before, and I knew today was the day.  I found a friend and a couple pups to come with me.

The East wind kept us pretty sheltered until we reached the East shore, so hiking was pleasant.  The sun shone intermittently, and the waves seemed to leave shore instead of coming in.  That's a unique sight.

Another unique sight was the terrain on the Northeast tip of Porter's Island.  I felt like a martian on another planet!  Here is a picture of my martian cohorts.

The terrain in general changed on the whole walk from West to East.  It started with huge basalt boulders, switched to rolled beach rocks, and then to the conglomerate shown in the photo.  Not bad for a little island!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Snow Drifts

I feel sorry for all the blueberry bushes, pussy willows and other various trees that have already budded.  I bet they wish they could go back inside the branch!  

The winds are whipping, and snow is flying.  It is truly a blizzard outside.  Oy.

Good thing I don't care.  I really don't.  If I did, then it would get worse.  Instead, I'll just enjoy the beautiful white trees.  Yes.  That's what I'll do.

Remember that tropical day last week when I was sunbathing in Fish Cove?  Well, below is a picture of what I woke up to this morning.

That black car no longer has snow tires on it, so it will be parked there for a few days.  Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Snow and Eagle River Falls

This morning when I went to let the dog out, I opened the door, and I felt like Dorothy when she opened her door after the tornado, and everything was in color.  Except, today, everything was white.  Two hearty inches of snow covered everything.  Everything.

At least I was prepared for this.  The weather man said so.  I didn't care either way.  I know it will melt soon.

But guess what.  Yesterday evening I visited Eagle River Falls.  They were pretty decent, but not as voluminous as I would have hoped (however, they are merely a trickle in the late summer).  So I suppose I still hit it at a good time.

For your benefit, I got my partial camera to take a picture of it for you!  It's kind of neat because these falls are viewed from above on a bridge.

Not too bad, hey?  They really had a nice sound to them too.  And I love all the minifalls that squirt out from other rocks.  This waterfall is about 40 feet tall.  I think it makes good use of its space.

Well, now think warm thoughts, so all this white stuff goes away until November!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Montreal Falls

Today Aaron and I hopped on the 4-wheeler and sped down the somewhat melted snowmobile trails to Fish Cove.  That is located 8 miles East of Lac La Belle on the southern shore of da Keweenaw.  From there we bushwhacked (even though we took the trail) West to destination Montreal Falls.  

The hike through the woods was really something.  We had to maneuver gingerly around fallen trees.  In some spots, more trees were horizontal than vertical!  I wanted to hike along the shore, but much of it was straight cliffs.  I pummeled the pebbles when I could, though.

I got to see some awesome landscapes that reminded me of Isle Royale: multi-foot crevasses in rock cliffs, boulder-top fields covered in gray and green lichen and pebble beaches.  Ah... Isle Royale, I get so nostalgic.  I also found tons of thimbleberry and bilberry bushes.  I sure am glad I know what they look like before they blossom, so I can scout them out early!

Through our treacherous hike, we kept thinking we heard the falls, only to come out onto shore with the rolling waves of Superior.  Big disappointment, right?  I know.

But soon enough we made it.  We noticed the current it pushed out long before we saw the falls.  Now, when I was out there last spring, I remember hiking right down the rocks in the falls, and even being able to cross the 40 foot falls on foot without getting wet (the last photo in the "Manganese River Walk" link is what it looked like then).  Not today, by gosh by golly.

Instead it looked like a gazillion gallon keg of Old Milwaukee Light had crashed from the sky and was surging down the rocks.  The "carbonation" was even making its own fizz in a mist up to ten feet above the water!  Foam rode on the tides below, and bubbles the size of my fist swam like groups of turtles in the waves.

The sound of it was not as deafening as I would have imagined.  It was more the sound of rushing water than a deep thundering -- like a dam.  It even reminded me of a dam back in my hometown.  But the energy from it was amazing.  If I would have tried to walk on the rocks I walked on last year, I would have no chance of living.  I couldn't even see those rocks!

We walked up the falls a bit, and I got down as close to the rapids as I could, to feel like a part of the action.  It was intense.  But so was the sun, and the beach at Fish Cove was calling my name.

Not being a fan of going-back-the-same-way-I-came, I decided to traverse some of that shoreline.  I did pretty good, really.  I mean, I was rock climbing -- clinging for dear life!  But then came the cliffs that only a trained professional with ropes and pulleys could have survived, so we climbed up a cleft in the rocks.

Then there it was... Fish Cove.  I swear it was 70 degrees in the sun on those warm, colorful, polished stones.  It had to be because we stripped into our scivvies and laid in the sunshine.  Oh, sweet glory of a Lake Superior Beach.  So intoxicating.  And it was slightly ironic because we were sunbathing next to a snow bank!  Got to love da Keweenaw!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chasing the Falls

The rampant runoff on the hillsides inspired us to ride our bikes up the road to check out Manganese Falls. On our way up Manganese Road the ditches were flowing themselves.  The hills are alive!

When we reached it, however, we skipped the falls and decided to start at the source: Lake Manganese (is that enough Manganese for you yet?).  The water was high on the lake shore, and the ice was thick in the middle of the lake.  Soon we hiked up toward the Red Trail.

The water at the start of Manganese Creek rushed over the bridge in two spots.  Trying to avoid a submerged spot, I over-jumped and landed with one foot in the lake.  At least the weather was warm!   

Manganese Creek was raging as we meandered north along the Mango Trail.  I mean someone could raft white-water rapids style down that thing!  If a person tried to stand in it, they would surely be knocked over.  Those were some strong currents, I tell you.  Along the trail, I also found some cool landscapes and a huge blueberry patch.  I'm going to pick some there this summer!

We connected back to Manganese Road across from the Falls, but before we could explore that, we hiked back up the road to get the bikes.  Then... down we road like the wind without having to pedal!  That's such a fun hill to coast down.

We treacherously descended the cliffs along raging Manganese Falls.  Man, was that a sight!  If my camera wasn't in 10 pieces, I could have taken a video for you.  Bubbles and foam everywhere!  We dropped all the way down to the bridge that crosses the Falls on the John Lincoln Green Trail.  How peaceful to sit on a bridge when the water thunders below!

And me being me, I saw a rock nestled further down the falls, so I climbed to it.  Sitting on this rock was like sitting right in the falls!  I was at water height, and the rock had a one inch ledge that forced the water to merge right around me.  I only got splashed a couple times, but it was worth it.  Aaron walked down to across from where I was sitting.  We had to shout to hear each other over the ten foot wide falls.  It produced some volume, alright.

On the way back home, we stopped at the boat landing on Lake Fanny Hooe, since that is the body Manganese Falls opens into.  Then, why not, we completed the tour at the mouth of the Fanny Hooe Creek into Lake Superior herself.  We wondered if we saw the same drop of water anywhere from Lake Manganese to where it entered the big lake.  I would guess so... at least one drop!

As I pedaled home, I chased my shadow as the sun was sinking behind me.  What a lovely end to the waterfall chase!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ridges and Valleys

Thanks for waiting... I had no computer for the last four days.  Man, did I love that!  No responsibilities to the world wide web!

Da Harbor has been experiencing some beautiful days.  A couple rainy mornings, but overall, the sun has been shining.  Melt, snow, melt!

This morning the wind was whipping from the Northwest, so Aaron, Duce and I ventured out to the South side of Brockway Mountain.  There the weather was sunny and warm (a little too warm on the way up!).

We started up the Garden Brook Trail and headed to higher elevation, climbing Brockway, on Woopidy Woo.  No snow up there!  Just some mud puddles which we helped drain down the mountain side using our boots and the ends of sticks.   I love draining puddles... I made ruts for four big ones on Woodland Road yesterday.

We climbed up to the top of Brockway's ridge and sat with our backs to the South-facing stone wall, so we didn't get pelted by the wind.  Looking over the trees in the Garden Brook Valley is always a great time to ponder life and take in nature.  Ahhh.

After descending partially down Woopidy Woo, we decided to catch up with the Garden Brook Trail to the East by traversing the woods along the stream.  Oh, what a treat to walk along a babbling brook!  And with all the melt-off running its way, it was gurgling!  I never hear it like that in the Summer.  

I always like treading on new territory.  Along that walk I found lots of thimbleberry bushes.  I'll be checking those out this summer!  I also discovered an area with lots of rotted birch trees leaving behind their water proof bark.  Anyone need to make a canoe?

The weather has been so splendid lately that I've been out for a walk every day.  Once to the lighthouse, up Brockway Mountain (one dip from the West side) and twice meandering the Norland Trust.  Got to start planning for mountain bike season!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Snowy Ride Home

Yesterday I woke up in Wisconsin to a snowy morning.  Oh, I thought, the sap won't be running today!  But the air was surprisingly warm.  The muddy ground was covered in a thin layer of fluff.  A nice day to drive home...

The ride North was snowy, but at least the roads were clear.

One cool thing (that maybe only I think is cool) was while driving East and West, the slopes on the South side of the road were snowy, but the slopes on the North side were brown and snowless.  I thought it was so neat how the sun can only melt the North side because if its position in the sky.  So, yeah, I'm still probably the only one who thinks that's cool, but now you know about it!

Despite the fact that we were driving in snow on April 4th, the view was still striking.  When we got north of Bruce Crossing, everything was white: the ground, the sky and the trees.  Such a splendid, ahem, winter scene.

On the Covered Stretch, close to home, the snow was so thick that it pulled the branches straight down.  That's some heavy, wet snow all right.  I didn't even care that this shouldn't be the time of year for such a scene.  I relished in it like it was the first snow of the winter.

And then I saw her.  My Queen.  My Majesty, Lake Superior.  She was all open and shining with a slit of clear sky behind her.  She's always my favorite part to come back home to.

The view of the sunset when I got home was breath-taking.  The Harbor was completely open, and the waves were rolling in -- a combination I haven't seen since fall.  The sky was only open along the horizon, and dark clouds covered the top of the sky.  As the sun sank, the tops of the waves danced pink and orange.  Oooh, I sat outside and stared as if it was my first sunset ever to behold.  I remembered how lucky I am to live here.

To share my luck, I took a picture for you after the sun sank, casting its glow heavenward.  Not bad, hey?