Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunset Dune Hike

After closing the museum last night, I headed up to do a long dune hike. It was such a beautiful evening that my goal was to stay up in the dunes until sunset. There was just a gentle breeze coming off the lake with temperatures in the upper 50s. I'll post the pictures over the next two days.

I accessed the dunes by hiking down the Masse Homestead/Log Slide trail just a little ways before I bushwhacked it up an old logging road into the dunes. There are a lot of trilliums on the hill -- most of which are at the end of their blooming life span. At the end the white flower petals turn pink.

The dunes are a bit more rugged in this center section with a lot fewer woods and a lot of up and down sand dunes.  In the photo below it looks like there are just a couple of rows of dunes between where I was standing and the Lake Superior shoreline.  There actually are at least five or six rows of dunes.  Since I hike the dunes for exercise, I love the elevation changes.

Each time I head up into the dunes there is a new flower blooming.

When the wind is calmer, it is fun to see all the tracks in the sand.  This is an intersection of tracks made from a bird (probably seagull) and some other smaller four legged animal.  I wish I was better at recognizing tracks.  Maybe that is something I'll have to work on.

On this hike I saw several of the old telegraph poles that connected Au Sable Lighthouse with Grand Marais over 100 years ago.  In the shot below you can see one laying in the sand as well as one up on the top of the dune, which is shown in more detail in the second photo.

You never know what you will see when you bushwhack through the dunes.  From a distance I saw at the bottom of a near vertical dune something reflecting in the sun.  When I doubled back after crossing the ridge and went down to investigate, I was surprised to find broken parts off a snowmobile.  Snowmobiles are not allowed in the dunes, as I've reported before.  The main reason is the damage that the machines do to the ecosystem.  The other primary reason is safety.  It appears that a snowmobiler drove over the ridge of the dune and crashed his sled on the drop off.  This location was in the middle of the dunes at least three miles from the nearest road access.  The third picture below is the ridge that the sled must have mistakenly tried to drive over.  The drop off is around 100 feet.

A week or so ago I had pictures of holes pawed in the sand.  On that day the wind obliterated any prints.  Yesterday I saw similar holes in the sand -- but this time there were coyote tracks.

A few days ago I also had a close up of the Jack Pine cones.  Yesterday I decided to document the pollen cloud by hitting the branch with my ski pole.

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