Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sep 6 – Grand Sable Dunes Area

Yesterday was an inside day. It was very windy and quite cool. We had waves of weather roll by us. It would be dark and dreary with driving rain, then the rain would stop and the sun would come out. The first time this happened we almost went out to do something but before we could get ready we were back to driving rain. This weather cycle repeated itself at least 5 or 6 times.


Today called for a mix of sun and cloud and rather cool with a high of only 14C but no rain.

We headed over to explore the eastern end of the park. It turned into a rather long day because just the drive to get there is about an hour. We tried to see everything on our must see list so we wouldn’t have to make the long trip back.



First up was the 3 mile round trip hike to the Au Sable Light Station. The path starts at the Hurricane River Campground and follows a road used by the rangers and volunteers to get to the light station. Perfectly flat and wide.


As usual we always watch beside the path.




The light station is still in use but the beacon has been replaced by a LED light.


A couple are volunteering here and stay in the house in the foreground. She runs the info booth and he stays up in the tower giving the $3 tours. They told us that they are from Florida and have a condo on the beach and are very worried about Hurricane Irma.


I paid my money and looked around the house first. It was pretty sparse



And then up the 98 steps to the top. Another nice wrought iron spiral. Since the light didn’t rotate these was no need for a space for the clock mechanism counterweights.


I got so busy talking to the guy that I didn’t take many pictures.

We could see the Grand Sable Dunes off in the distance.


The photosphere.

The third order Fresnel lens, that was actually used here.


Back down on the ground we watched the crashing waves for a while.


I stepped out in the rocks but got splashed so I retreated.


A close-up of the dunes. They are our next stop.


On the way back to the car we stopped at a beach beside the trail that was supposed to have some shipwreck remains,


Lots of wave action here. I got wet a few times from surprise ones.




Jennie went off collecting.


This turned out to be one of the best beaches we have been to for interesting stones.


Jennie collected so many that during the walk back the weight of the bag started to hurt her legs. The pack mule ended up with the bag.

Some of her collection. The colours don’t come through very well in the picture. The one at the top is very red.


Here are the only shipwreck remains that we could find.


Me with my alpenhorn.


Back at the trail head we went down to the beach and the mouth of the Hurricane River. Lots of tea coloured water.



Eventually mixing with the clear Lake Superior water.


The photosphere.

Our next stop was the Log Slide at the top of the Grand Sable Dunes. The dunes end at a very long 300 foot high cliff by the lakeshore. The loggers used to push their logs over the edge and collect them in the water at the bottom.

There was a shed with a sled and a wagon that they used to move the logs.


Here is the warning sign at the top. “A few seconds to go down, maybe an hour to come back up.”


From the sizes (500’ length of slide and 300’ vertical) the cliff is just a bit less than 45 degrees.


Jennie couldn’t get much past here. The edge just seemed to disappear.


A side view from later. The only sense of scale is how small the waves look.


I only went down a short way. Here is the view looking back towards the lighthouse.



But the view the other way is the one that takes your breath away.


The photosphere. It shows the steepness pretty well.

We loved all the patterns in the water as well.


Far in the distance you could see the light station at the town of Grand Marais, out on its breakwater.


We managed to find a path to a place along the top of the cliff where Jennie could get a look without being right at the edge.


You can just see a person in a green jacket on the cliff. That is where I was standing earlier.

The next stop was to see Sable Falls. The sign said it was only 500 feet from the parking lot. It didn’t say that it was 200 steps down (and back up).




With the combination of already being pretty tired and having seen a lot of waterfalls, we didn’t stay very long.

The trail did continue down to the mouth of the river at the lakeshore, which turned out to be much more interesting.

It seems that the river is right at the end of the dune cliffs.


The trail comes out at the forest edge and if you stay on that side of the river (where Jennie is standing) you can only see the end of the dunes.


So, across we go.


Another deep tea coloured river.


From this side we could get out farther and see down the length of the cliffs.


This end isn’t nearly as high as at the Log Slide.

Someone made a stone design.


Jennie wandered up the beach to do her thing.


The photosphere from here. I seem to have turned a little boy into triplets while taking all the shots.

Far in the distance I saw a serious rock collector out in the surf with a scoop.


After carefully climb back across the log, we headed for the car.

Just to be complete we drove into Grand Marais to see the light station. We parked by the harbour light.


And climbed a dune to this.


Not very pretty. The harbour light was much nicer.


And then the seemingly endless one hour drive home.

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