Winter on Lake Superior means nature is about to create new structures along the shore of the lake. Freezing temperatures, wind, and waves work together with the surface of the beach and anything that happens to be lying about, to build wonderful, and sometimes treacherous, formations of ice. As winter progresses, the wave action slowly adds layer upon layer of ice, caking it on the sand, driftwood and beach grass, until, by midwinter, a whole new landscape appears. It starts small, adjusts depending on daily temperatures, shrinks and grows, until the formations take on a life of their own. Often, wave action will cut under the piled ice and create caves and cracks may occur when the overhangs start to break away. Waves will crash into the caves, seeking the cracks, crevices or holes and result in blowholes. Unlike the rock formations that have taken millions of years to create and form, these happen in a matter of weeks, last only months and then will disappear with the thawing of spring. And each winter’s creation will be unique, just like each winter is unique. The images above, except for the last three, are from December 17th, the others are from previous winters to illustrate the potential result. All were taken along Park Point in Duluth, MN.
This past February I treated my wife to a birthday lunch in one of the ice caves that had formed along the shore. It had been cold enough for a long period of time which allowed for the chunks of ice to freeze and form a shelf to walk on along the ice formations and to explore the caves. Unbeknownst to her, I had packed two thermos bottles with soup, brought ice cream, root beer and candles and made her a picnic on ice. You gotta love a woman who enjoys a picnic in an ice cave!