Using heat and pressure, too, She makes old rocks appear as new. Cherry Carl wrote this poem especially for Science Trek.
But the wind is directly out of the north, and we know the water is cold this late in the season. We haul the last of our gear down from the parking area, agree full immersion-wear is in order, and launch our kayaks onto the slate-gray surface of Superior.
One hundred and forty years ago, ship traffic on Superior was at an all-time high. The simultaneous discovery of copper deposits on the Keweenaw Peninsula and iron in the Marquette Range had sparked mining booms that continued for decades.
The tools, equipment, and men necessary to fuel the burgeoning mining industry all arrived by Great Lakes sailing schooner. And so many of those ships were lost in fog, struck unseen reefs, or were thrown up here against the towering cliffs by violent north gales that this dangerous stretch of shoreline came to be known by its macabre moniker.
My brother, James, and I are mindful of this reputation as we angle along the cliffs and make our way eastward. About an hour after launching, the wind shifts to the northeast and gains strength.
The wind drives waves onto the sheer rock faces and into the caves, which boom and echo with the force. Clapotis—waves reflected back off the cliffs to form chaotic and spiky water—makes the paddling difficult near shore, so we angle out, tuck down, and make our way along beyond the surf zone.
By mid-afternoon we finally round Grand Portal Point and swing into a sandy bay with the idyllic name of Chapel Beach. We land the kayaks in dumping surf and pull up on the sand beach, then begin lugging our camping gear up the dunes to our site in the woods.
It is remarkably sheltered here, with only the whispering treetops to remind us of the wind we struggled against all day on the lake. After rigging a clothesline to dry our wet paddling gear, we settle in and enjoy dinner as the sun sets behind the cliffs on Lake Superior.
As I pitch it, the thin fiberglass poles creaking under the strain, I realize just how compact it really is: I hurry to the ledge overlooking the beach to find glass-calm conditions on Superior.
The water laps gently at the sand, and undulates in barely perceptible swells out to the horizon with a liquid calmness I have never seen on this lake before.
It is with a barely-contained sense of anticipation that we make a quick breakfast, break camp, and launch onto the placid, blue-green water. We swing west today, and although we are backtracking, it is like exploring an entirely different stretch of shore.
Without the waves of yesterday threatening to drive us onto the rocks, we are free to poke our kayaks into every sea cave and beneath each rocky overhanging arch. Despite the calm conditions—or perhaps because of them—it seems to take us twice as long to cover the same mere six miles as yesterday, as we pause here and there to take photos or to simply gaze in wonder at the sculpted cliffs.
And warning paddlers to steer clear of potential rockfalls. We head southwest along the tall cliffs and as we come around a point we hear the distinctive cry of an eagle high atop the stone wall, followed by another from straight ahead.
Glancing forward, we see another eagle headed directly toward us, winging low above the water. As the great bird looms closer and closer, her sheer majesty paralyzing my camera hand, we see that she has a large lake trout clutched in her talons, still wriggling to break free.
Only twenty feet above the water, she flies just abeam of us and banks to turn behind our sterns.An alum (/ ˈ æ l ə m /) is a type of chemical compound, usually a hydrated double sulfate salt of aluminium with the general formula XAl(SO 4) 2 ·12H 2 O, where X is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium.
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