Lake Superior Battles

March 2, 2015

Ice Formations on Lake SuperiorAs February gives way to March, the winter sun is becoming brighter, warmer.

It shone down upon the surreal beauty of Lake Superior, lighting up the ice formations at the mouth of the Cascade River. Saturday’s hike had left plenty for guests to marvel at, including the massive Cascade River canyon with its frozen waterfalls and towering white pines.

The best part of the trip, however, was when the group followed the river under Highway 61 to emerge at the edge of Lake Superior.

The frozen spray from waves clung to the trees and rocks near the water. There were no waves now, only a layer of smooth, blue-black stretching several yards off the shoreline. Beyond that, the wind stirred the deep blue water into foam-capped waves. The ice began to fracture and undulate up and down with a sound like pins clattering in a bowling alley.

Further out, a white line of floes was moving toward shore. It was pack ice drifting in from the horizon. In another half an hour, that ice would slam into the ice offshore and create new mountains of broken slabs.

Back at Bluefin Bay, the battle between the opposing fronts of ice had already begun. The smashup filled the air with a continuous, crashing roar.

If any side won the battle, the winner was lost to history. A wind shift the next day blew most of the ice out past the horizon. Only the grave 12-foot heaps of broken ice, from an earlier storm, remained on shore. Who knows how long these will last? The lake is unpredictable.

If the ice leaves no lasting monuments, there is beauty in that the lake creates and destroys its work so quickly, leaving room for fresh stories and improvisations for us to enjoy. Every day is a new drama put on by wind, ice and waves.


Tom Fagin, Activities