Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Beach -- Post 1

Yesterday I decided to walk the beach and investigate the agate hunting conditions.  It is unbelievable how little snow and ice are left. I'll post the pictures over two days.  Over this series of 20 pictures, you will see how variable the beach is in terms of the amount of sand, rock, and still left over ice.  In many places, the beach is more like an obstacle course.  You also have to be careful because the ice that still remains is fragile.  In several spots one of my feet fell through soft spots.  Also, right next to the lake there are soft spots in the sand.  I stepped in one thinking it was solid sand/rock, but it was like quicksand.

The most amazing thing is that most of the snow/ice melted in less than two weeks.  The winter storm that dumped almost two feet on Grand Marais happened less than three weeks ago.

I parked at the west end of Woodland Park, walked down the west steps, headed west down the beach.
Although there is still some shore ice in spots, there is very little snow on the beach -- even at the base of the pre-Lake Superior bluff.  In most years I can still ski down the beach in April.  Not this year.  Here is one of the few patches left, located just west of the west steps.

In front of Woodland Park, there is still some shore ice, but there are also patches of rock available.  So it is now time for all of you who have been emailing me asking if there is exposed rock to come on north!

But you have to pick your spots.  In some sections the shore ice melted so fast that it just dumped sand.  The rocks you see to the right are those left over from the fall storms.  Many agate hunters never look in this band of rock.  That is a mistake since there can still be agate.  One of the best agates found a few years ago was found well up the beach. There is probably rock under the sand in the following picture, but we need waves to undertow the sand back out into the lake to expose the rock.

First Creek has changed considerably in the last week.  It fans out now with a large sand area next to the lake left over from peak flow, which has already finished for First Creek.

It is fairly easy to cross the creek right next to the lake.

This is a photo looking south at the beach entry source of First Creek.  The mound is probably ice covered by sand (I did not investigate), but it makes it look like the creek is coming out from underground.

Here are more sand piles left over from melted shore ice.

As you walk west, there finally are some skimpy patches of rock.

In several areas, there are pools of water left over from the quick shore ice melt.  The wind has been from the south for several days so these pools have not yet merged with Lake Superior.

There is still some ice melting in these pools.

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