Perils of Michigan: Quicksand Edition

Sturgeon River by Sven

Sturgeon River, photo by Sven

While the ice has melted, leaving the shorelines temporarily free of peril – at least until until bodysurfing season starts – we can take a moment to worry about quicksand. Quicksand in Michigan Streams from Fichigan says:

Everything I know about quicksand I learned from Tarzan movies. The main thing to know is: bad guys don’t make it out, but good guys and gals always do. If you’re a bad guy, please stop reading. Quicksand on a trout stream is a little different than sand bogs in Africa, but there’s some similarity. They are both camouflaged so you don’t see it until it’s too late and if you make it out alive you’ll have an interesting story to tell even if no one believes you.

Quicksand on a trout stream is harder to see since it’s underwater. The stream bottom appears normal except there is no visible hole (sand covers it) so you don’t know it’s here until you start sinking. In waders it’s pretty scary since swimming doesn’t feel like an option.

I’ve found quicksand on the Pine River in Lake County and the Sturgeon River in the Pigeon River State Game Area. On the Pine, the particular spot I know of is a few bends downstream from Raymond Road. The first time I ran into it I was alone. I scrambled to get out and it was like running in place up a sand dune. It was easy to see the exact spot afterwards because a cloud of light gray silt poured out like smoke. An hour later, walking the bank downstream, the silt was still pouring out.

Read on for lots more including his encounter on the Sturgeon River.

I can find photos of almost anything View Sven’s photo bigger on Flickr and see more in his UP Michigan slideshow.

The Sturgeon River is one of Michigan’s Wild & Scenic Rivers – more Sturgeon River on Michigan in Pictures.

2 thoughts on “Perils of Michigan: Quicksand Edition

  1. My husband and I were rock hunting at Cross Village township park on Lake Michigan the last weekend in April four years ago. As he was walking back to the car, he walked onto what he thought was solid sand, and fell in quicksand to the top of his thighs. He managed to get out but he was very sandy and wet, and so shook up that he couldn’t drive back to our hotel in Petoskey. Our daughter in a Sergeant in the Michigan State Police, so the Petoskey post called the Cross Village township office and suggested they block access to the park until the sun dried up the pockets of quicksand.


  2. This is an excellent article. I have encountered quick sand in the AuSable system, usually where there is a hidden spring that keeps the sand particles separated. Just as dangerous are pockets of gray marl that appear to be smooth rock and areas of deep silt on stream edges or behind beaver dams. I have become mired in all of these and have felt quite lucky to have extricated myself. Even more frightening was falling through the vegetation mat on a bog. I stopped myself at shoulder level by throwing out my arms. If I had gone completely through the mat, it would have closed over me. I would have been seen next by a fourth millennium paleontologist studying ancient peat bogs.


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