Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fantastic Dunes Hike

Yesterday afternoon it was beautifully sunny with little to no wind, so Lois and I decided to head into the dunes.  The weather was quite a contrast from the previous day.  The roads were quite icy, but we worked our way to the Masse Homestead trail head, located west of Sable Lake.

Heading down the trail....

This time we didn't miss the connector trail, so we then headed up into the dunes.  Rather than just skirt the south side, we climbed up and down a few dunes to more than half way across.  Our first goal was to hike all the way to the bluff over Lake Superior, but we decided to not take that much time and corrected our course to circle back toward the car.

Before we headed back toward the car, we spotted this cool view of Au Sable lighthouse.

Views in the dunes....


 Then Lois spotted the sundog.  This is the first time she had ever seen one.  Usually there are two, either side of the sun, but yesterday there was only one.

A sundog is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright rainbow patchest in the sky on either side of the sun.  The scientific name is parhelion (plural parhelia) from Greek a Greek word that means "beside the sun.  These colorful patches are also called a mock sun or a phantom sun,

Sundogs appear to the left or right of the sun at the same distance above the horizon as the sun.  They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low.

Sundogs are made when sunlight refracts through plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds.  During cold weather these ice crystals (called diamond dust) drift in the air. They act as prisms, bending the light rays with a minimum deflection of 22°. If the crystals are randomly oriented, a complete ring around the sun is seen — a halo. But usually, as the crystals sink through the air, they become vertically aligned, so sunlight is refracted horizontally.

Sundogs are red-colored at the side nearest the sun. Farther out the colors grade through oranges to blue. However, the colors overlap considerably and so are muted, never pure or saturated.

We both did wear some hunter orange since it is rifle deer hunting season.  Believe it or not, people are allowed to hunt in the national park. 

In one of the valleys, we spotted these huge tracks.  We think bear....

Then on one of the dunes we spotted other huge, but old, tracks -- we think moose....

We had to stop by the cross...

 Then we headed back toward the car...



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