May 16, 2013
Walk silently through the haunting landscape of the ghost forest of Sleeping Bear Point Trail
and wind spirits whisper to you and chatter among the skeletons of long dead cedars.
If you do not hear them you are not listening.
I am sure the Anishinaabek knew the song in their day on Sleeping Bear.
~Jonathan Schechter, Earth’s Almanac
Jonathan Schechter who runs the very cool blog Earth’s Almanac at the Oakland Press penned these lines about the Ghost Forest on the Sleeping Bear Dunes (thanks SleepingBearDunes.com for the link). Click through for a photographic account of his visit!
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook explains how the ghost forest was created:
The Sleeping Bear Dune is estimated to be about two thousand years old and has a fascinating history. It is classified as a perched dune because it is perched on top of a plateau, high above the lake. When the dune was forming, it was not at the edge of the bluff, but somewhat inland.Wind carried sand from the upper portion of the Lake Michigan bluff inland and deposited it to form the Sleeping Bear Dune.
Notice the skeletons of dead trees within the eroded bowl of the dune. This called a ghost forest and tells a story of alternating stability and change. After an initial phase of active sand accumulation, a period of stability followed when trees began to grow on the dune. Later, more sand moved in and buried the trees. Two layers of buried soil within the dune indicate that there was a second period of stability and tree growth, followed by another period of sand build-up and then the final growth of the trees and shrubs that now cover the sheltered portions of the dunes.
For a long time, the sleeping Bear Dune stood at about 234 feet high with a dense plant cover. However, trough most of the twentieth century, erosion has prevailed.
By 1961, the dune was only 132 feet high, and by 1980, it was down to 103 feet. The process is a continuing one. The major cause of the dune’s erosion was wave action wearing away the base of the plateau on which the dune rests. As the west side of the dune loses its support, it cascades down the hill. The wind, too, is a major agent of erosion, removing sand and destroying the dune’s plant cover. What does the future hold? It seems that the present trend will continue and it is only a matter of time until the Bear disappears completely.
More dunes on Michigan in Pictures.
May 6, 2013
Last night I got an alert of a moderately strong solar flare with the possibility of generating northern lights. When I went looking to see if anyone had photographed them, I discovered that Michigan in Pictures regular Shawn Malone has just released a truly stunning video featuring a series of time-lapses of the night skies of northern Michigan! She writes:
Rare pairings caught on camera include ribbons of aurora above a full moon fogbow on the horizon of Lake Superior, the aurora and an isolated singular lightning storm cloud over Lake Superior, and the aurora and Milky Way in several scenes including Copper Harbor, Marquette, Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks, and Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.
…All scenes are within 200 miles or so of my home in Marquette, Mi. and I feel very blessed to live where I do and to share the beauty that I see ‘in my own backyard’ with you. I hope it inspires others to take time to find the beauty that is everywhere around us and also to raise an awareness about the importance of preserving our night wondrous starlit skies.
The shot above is one of 33 different scenes in the video and shows Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. See it bigger in the video and see a lot more on the Lake Superior Photo Facebook.
Much more from Shawn on Michigan in Pictures.
May 2, 2013
Good Harbor is located on the northern edge of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at the Lake Michigan end of County Road 651. Today only evidence of the vanished village are the pilings of what was once a 500′ dock that could load 4 schooners at a time. The Good Harbor page from the Lakeshore explains that logging in the area began in 1863 to supply cordwood fuel for steamers, leading to the founding of a village in the 1870s.
Shortly after 1880 (Henry) Schomberg bought out Schwartz’s interest and built a big sawmill which had a capacity of 30,000 feet in a 10-hour day.
…The Schomberg Lumber Company ran a hotel, two stores which became a shopping center for the local farmers, and a saloon. The township line between Centerville and Cleveland townships ran down the middle of Main Street in Good Harbor. Centerville did not allow saloons, so Good Harbor’s saloon was built on the Cleveland township side of the street … At the height of the lumber business, the mill worked day and night during the winter and during the day in the summer. As many as 75 teams of horses were used hauling logs to the mill, lumber to the dock, and supplies to the camps. The lumber company owned some of the teams and the rest were owned by local farmers and rented to the lumber company. At its peak, the mill cut 8,000,000 board feet of lumber per year.
The schooners were loaded by farmers who were called to work at the dock when the ships arrived. Good Harbor had no protection from storms with a northwest wind, so ships had to leave the dock and sail to the Manitou Islands for protection when a storm would come up. Sometimes storms would come up too fast and the ships were driven aground.
April 24, 2013
This Friday, April 26th is Arbor Day, and I thought it would be nice to take a look what is probably the most famous trees in Michigan’s history and the place where it once grew, Hartwick Pines State Park. In 1927, Karen Michelson Hartwick purchased over 8,000 acres of land that included 85 acres of old growth white pine from the Salling-Hanson Company of Grayling. Mrs. Hartwick was a daughter of a founding partner of the logging company and shortly after the purchase, she donated the land to the State of Michigan as a memorial park named for her husband, the late Major Edward E. Hartwick of Grayling. A nice article from the Toledo Blade about Hartwick Pines explains:
This is Hartwick Pines, the largest stand of “old growth” forest in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Here, white pines, red pines and hemlocks ladder their way 160 feet to the sky.
…There are approximately 24,000 trees in the Hartwick Pines old growth grove today, but not all are “old growth” trees. Lightning and wind claim a few of the old trees each year, and they are replaced with a mixture of hardwoods and pines.
A large hemlock near the parking lot was recently damaged by a storm and had to be removed. Its stump showed 365 annual rings. The most famous tree at Hartwick Pines — The Monarch — lost its crown in a 1992 storm and then died four years later. It was 155 feet tall when healthy, with a circumference of 12 feet and an estimated age of 325 years.
PS: The Monarch was a white pine, Michigan’s State Tree.
April 13, 2013
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore feature on the collapse of one of the two turrets at Miner’s Castle explains that 7 years ago today:
On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach.
Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.
While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment. At least five major falls have occurred over the past dozen years: 1) two different portions of Grand Portal Point, 2) the eastern side of Indian Head just east of Grand Portal Point, 3) Miners Falls just below the (now modified) viewing platform, and 4) beneath the lip of Munising Falls (along the former trail that went behind the cascade).
All the rockfalls involved the same rock unit, the Miners Castle Member of the Munising Formation. Rock units are named for places where they were first technically described. The Miners Castle Member consists of crumbly cross-bedded sandstone that is poorly cemented by secondary quartz, according to U.S. Geological Survey Research Ecologist Walter Loope.
Rockfalls along the cliffs typically occur in the spring and fall due to freezing and thawing action of Mother Nature.
March 21, 2013
The other day on Leelanau.com I posted Sequestration and the Sleeping Bear Dunes detailing cuts that will be made at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to meet their 5% budget requirement. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale and the Keweenaw National Historical Park will all be forced to trim budgets as well. Due to the fact that the NPS fiscal year ends in September, the cuts end up being closer to 10% than 5%.
All of the officials quoted stress that the parks remain open and (mostly) accessible, but when Michigan is spending millions of dollars promoting Pure Michigan nationwide with these parks at the center of our offerings, there’s no question that this is bad news for tourism!
John took this photo about a year ago – view it bigger and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore slideshow. He is a frequent guest on Michigan in Pictures – view more of his posts right here.
March 16, 2013
Since I’m up in the Pictured Rocks, I thought it would be a good time to share this video of Lake Superior waves at Pictured Rocks in winter by Lars Jensen.
More from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures including a feature from Lars on Miners Castle from the winter of 2006!
March 5, 2013
Lake Michigan Ice Boulders, photo by Leda Olmsted
Todays post is from the “Ain’t it Cool” Department. A couple of weeks ago Leelanau County resident Leda Olmsted was walking the Lake Michigan shore in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore when she came across this incredible scene. TV 7&4 reports in Ice boulders roll onto shores of Lake Michigan that Leda took some photos, uploaded to the news station’s Facebook and:
Leda says she was shocked by the response. Olmsted explains, “From there it got like 800 shares and thousands of likes and overnight I had Good Morning America and The Weather Channel calling me, so it has been a really crazy weekend!”
Deputy Superintendent from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Tom Ulrich says, “It’s not that it never happens and this is a once in a decade thing, it happens more often than that, but these are very large and got bigger than they normally get.”
The ice balls or boulders along the shores of Lake Michigan are about the size of giant beach balls or basketballs and weigh up to 50 pounds.
Click to watch the video from UpNorthLive with Leda.
I looked a little further into the phenomenon and found and AIR PHOTO INTERPRETATION OF GREAT LAKES ICE FEATURES by Ernest W. Marshall in the Great Lakes Digital Library at the University of Michigan. With the help of Marshall’s information, here’s an explanation of how ball ice forms:
Ball ice consists of roughly spherical masses of slush and frazil ice that accrete in turbulent water. Frazil ice (via Wikipedia)is a collection of loose, randomly oriented needle-shaped ice crystals that form in open, turbulent, supercooled water. Lumps that form in the less turbulent zones are typically flattened discs, while those formed in the extremely turbulent zone near the shoreline ice where wave action is strongest form into spheres.
The author explains that ball ice is a feature common to all of the Great Lakes and can occur at any time during the winter where water turbulence breaks up a slush layer. You can read more about this in Great Lakes Ice Features.
I’ve always found snow & cold to be a lot more tolerable when accompanied by a healthy dose of sun & blue skies. About this photo Jim writes:
During the recent snowshoe weekend with my buddies Jim, Fred and Roger, we snowshoed the trails of this beautiful park located in my hometown. A recent snowfall had left a good blanket of powder that hadn’t been groomed as of yet for cross-country skiing. Lucky for us!
The City of Ironwood, Michigan passed an ordinance in 2011 that designated 167 acres of city-owned land in the center of Ironwood as the Miners Memorial Heritage Park. This area once contained five iron ore mines, the last of which closed in the 1960′s. The Friends of Miners Memorial Heritage Park has created a 2.6 mile looping trail through a portion of this area for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The Park is “Dedicated to those who toiled underground to work these mines. Many died in the darkness so future generations could live in the light.”
More about the park including some old photos at fmmhp.com.
February 23, 2013
Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, and we’re having a great one. Around this time I start to wonder when we’ll be able to walk out of winter and into warmer times.