Sometimes you just need a beach day.

It’s been a solid month since I was in Alaska, but still seems like just yesterday. I love that place and cannot wait to go back. So what have I been up to..more adventuring of course! And reading, training for races, and putting together photo books of my recent adventures, more on this in another post. There was a transition week after returning to the lower 48 which included time in the rock shop, a wedding on the Yellowstone river, and visiting family and friends in the Red River Valley. On Thursday September 10 I began a journey to explore the Lake Superior shoreline, first in WI then into the U.P. of MI... getting a late start out of Grand Forks I did not quite make it to the big lake on Day 1, but rather decided to stay at Amnicon Falls St Park in WI, which was recommended from a WI native I met in AK. It was quite late when I arrived so started a fire in the rain, had a few brews and fell asleep. The next day I rode bike down to the waterfalls and checked out the area. Little did I know, the falls is a location where the Douglas fault can be seen!! This is fascinating from a geologist’s point of view. The volcanic basalt is a billion years old and the adjacent sandstone a millions of years old with a fault scarp 500 million years old splitting the two and creating a iron stained breccia. The waterfalls themselves were a dark brown to rust color from all of the oxidized iron precipitating out of the basalt. The Douglas fault can be seen in several localities in both MN and WI. What a great way to start a day! Later on I found myself in Bayfield, WI boarding the ferry with my touring bike to go explore Madeline Island. While I could have brought my truck and all of my toys to the island, it was a liberating feeling to just go on bike with minimal gear. Upon arrival on the island, I biked 6 miles towards the NE to the campground I would be staying at with several others who were all here to attend friends’ wedding. That evening the small town of La Pointe on the island was explored and any other points of interest on the way and back to the campground, there are not many roads to explore on an island! 

Amnicon Falls and the Douglas Fault
The stream is falling on basalt, landing in a pool lined with breccia, then flowing out onto sandstone, cool!
Snake falls
On the ferry to Madeline Island


The following day a few of us set out on an adventure walking across the large barrier bar sandstone beach, it was beautiful! Picking up sea glass and agates as bare feet wandered in and out of the waves breaking on the sandy beach. The sand was perfect, well it felt perfect on all 100,000+ nerves waiting to be excited on the bottom of my feet. Our hike was 5-6 miles roundtrip, we were able to climb out on some large sandstone boulders and catch views of other Apostle islands nearby. The wedding was great, good people all around, and the after party was even better at Tom’s burnt down café. Too many drinks later and somehow I was back in my tent snoring away.

Barrier Bar beach





Sunday I said goodbye to friends and began my journey around Lake Superior alone once again. Having not seen all of the island trails the day before I set out to walk the beach again, once again just as soothing as the day prior. I then jogged the point trail and the lagoon trail back to the campground, 6 miles in all. Made a quick dinner at camp, then rode bike back to the ferry landing on the other side of the island. Making it back to the mainland at dark, I set out for a nearby campground and was settled with a fire before long. The next day I was feeling lazy and still recouping energy from the weekend’s festivities, so I read a book ‘Teacher Man’ by Frank McCourt and walked the beach near the campground. The beach was not a barrier bar so the sand was hit and miss and there were cobbles and boulders strewn all over. I did find a few areas to crawl down into and look for agates and sea glass, they are always there if you take the time to look! Upon returning to camp I started talking to a couple from MN and later we realized that the guy grew up one block from my mother in Watford City, wow small world. 
Beach time
Lake Superior Sandstone cliffs

Sunset on Madeline Island
Sea glass


Tuesday I got out and explored the Bayfield area. First stopping by an apple orchard where I could pick the apples myself. Then wandered around town, playing tourist and stopping in a few stores, finding a map of the Apostle Islands and asking for tips on paddling in the big lake. Soon after I took the SUP out on the Lake Superior, the wind and waves were strong coming into the shoreline at a 45 degree angle. This was going away from my launch point so was easier to go down the shoreline, and a struggle coming back but the Kaholo SUP is a boss in the treacherous waters. The big roller waves moved the board significantly but only threw water on top, not once tempting to flip it over. The smaller waves were breaking constantly and I could maneuver around or cut through them. I never had the security to stand up, this first experience in the big water was better suited to handle on my knees. After getting back to my launch point, a small beach in Bayfield, I was humbled by the experience. In one hour I had made it a mile down the shoreline and back, I was exhausted and thrilled at the same time, recounting how awesome the board responded in desperate times. Was wishing I had a friend to go explore the other Apostle islands with, will have to save that for another day, the journey is a bit too unpredictable to go alone, especially this time of year. Beach combing that evening yielded more sea glass and agates, but I also scored a copper nugget! And finished off the good day by stopping at the local fish market folllwed by cooking up some fresh whitefish at camp with a New Glarus brew and campfire nearby. The next morning I began my journey in to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, copper country..see next post, it was an epic time. 

Apple orchard
Copper nugget, still attached to sandstone

A quote from Marcus Aurelius summed up my recent WI experience: "People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills... There is no where that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind... So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself."

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