When you think about it, it’s not only miraculous that the white pine on Chapel Rock in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore survives with barely any soil, but also that it endures winter after winter in the teeth of Lake Superior.
Here’s a cool picture from way back in 2006 of what I think is definitely one of the 7 wonders of Michigan: Chapel Rock in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
The Lucky Tree of Chapel Rock features quite a number of photos that I think can give you a pretty good understanding of this marvelous Michigan miracle.
Chapel Rock on Lake Superior has a single tree perched atop its column. By rights the tree should not be there: the small surface area of land on the top of the rock is insufficient to sustain a tree of this size.
There is hardly any topsoil, certainly not enough for an obviously thriving tree. How then does it flourish?
Look a little closer and you will see the answer – that rope on the right of the picture is not, in fact a rope. It is a system of roots, extending and stretching over the edge of the rock to the main bluff where there are nutrients and water aplenty.
Yet how on earth did the root extend over to the mainland? Did it slither in some triffid like way until it reached the other side? Is there a Little Shop of Horrors thing happening here?
More Pictured Rocks on Michigan in Pictures? You bet!
What a perfect photo from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for the last day of summer as we prepare to make the leap into autumn tomorrow.
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore geology page says (in part) that:
During the Nipissing “high stand,” Chapel Rock and Miners Castle as well as many less prominent features (such as perched sea caves near Little Beaver Lake Campground) were carved into the Cambrian sandstone by wave action.
Quite the whittling job by Gitche Gumee!
Enjoy your weekend everyone!
Go Waterfalling’s page on Spray Falls begins:
Spray Falls is the remotest, and perhaps the most impressive of the several waterfalls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 70′ waterfall plunges over the cliffs at Pictured Rocks and lands directly in Lake Superior.
The falls is right on the edge of the cliffs, and the creek has not cut back into the cliffs at all, so it is impossible to view the falls from the front unless you are on the water. The cliffs are sheer for miles in both directions, so there is no way to get near the base of the falls without a watercraft. Lake Superior is too cold for swimming. :)
The Lakeshore Trail passes right over the top of the falls, and you can get right to the brink of the falls. Be careful because the cliffs are undercut and unsafe in many places. About 1/4 mile east of the falls there is a safe lookout point from which you can get a nice, but distant, side view of the falls. There is a sign marking the lookout.
Sorry folks, but people keep adding these awesome shots of Petit Portal in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Near the top of my personal Michigan Bucket List is being where this kayaker is.
Here’s a shot from a place on my Michigan kayaking bucket list – Petit Portal (also known as Petit Arch and Arch Rock by some) and other cliff formations of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The Lakeshore’s Geologic Formations page begins:
The geologic formations of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are most spectacularly represented by the 50-200 ft. sandstone cliffs that extend for more than 15 miles along the shoreline. Sea caves, arches, blowholes, turrets, stone spires, and other features have been sculpted from these cliffs over the centuries by unceasing waves and weather.
The name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the cliffs. Stunning colors occur when groundwater oozes out of cracks and trickles down the rock face. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals.
Geologic history recorded in the sedimentary rocks and surficial deposits of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is limited to two widely separated intervals of geologic time, the Late Precambrian, Cambrian, and Early Ordovician Periods (500-800 million years before present), and the Late Quaternary Period (two million years before present to the present).
You can read on for more about each geologic era, and I think that that this report by Lakeshore Volunteer Geologist Robert Rose (pdf) has some graphics that really help to understand how the layers fit together.
On April 13, 2006 one of the most recognizable rock formations in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Miners Castle collapsed. The Lakeshore explains:
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.
Joel says that this photo was taken Roger Dinda in 1961 or ’62 “…before Pictured Rocks was a National Lakeshore, before Miners Castle lost its second turret, before they put up the boardwalks and railings. In this photo I’m just as tense as I look. I am deathly afraid of heights and this was (still is) about the scariest place I’ve ever been.”
John McCormick aka Michigan Nut shared this gorgeous shot from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore showing Lake Superior at its calmest.
PS: John’s Pictured Rocks gallery will knock your socks off!
The Grand Rapids Press reports that February 2015 was the coldest recorded for the city:
If you were alive in 1978, perhaps the similarity was striking.
Grand Rapids’ average temperature last month was 13.3 degrees, making it the coldest February in the city’s recorded weather history — a record dating back 37 years, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record was a balmy 14.3 degrees.
Overnight low temperatures dipped below zero eight times throughout the month, with highs not able to warm too much beyond the teens. In fact, the thermometer touched the 30-degree mark only four times when the seasonal average is just around freezing.
The Great Lakes region can thank the frequent blasts of arctic air for these records. Visitors to area beaches, too, should give the colder than normal conditions credit for some spectacular scenes of ice formations and caves along the shore.
Much of the state saw a near record cold as well, which has also pushed Great Lakes ice coverage near 90%.