Friday, February 7, 2020

February 2, 2020 Our Ground Hog Day or Palindrome Day Hike at The Indiana Dunes National Park

It's Ground Hog Day and Palindrome Day...02/02/2020...reads the same forward and backwards. Truthfully, I didn't realize it was anything but another Sunday morning when the dogs woke me up. I decided to see if Central Beach or Mt. Baldy's beach was accessible. The Great Marsh was looking beautiful this sunny morning as we drove past it on our way to Central Beach..

The sun hasn't been out like this for almost two weeks. I was singing "Stairway to Heaven" as we walked up this. The dogs pretty much ignored me.
"There's a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder
And it's whispered that soon, If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter"

Nola & Yeti were very happy to be outside on a hike this morning. 

I was thrilled to see blue skies.

All the dunes along the main trail to the beach have been closed to hiking for years now.

I talked with two women who told me there was no way to access the beach here or at Mount Baldy.
From this vantage point, the lake looks relatively calm. 

But the storms of the past month have done enough damage to still limit beach access. The NPS usually doesn't try to keep a nice slope down the dune to the beach during the winter months. There is currently about a 25 foot straight down drop to the beach.

Also, there is no beach today. The water line is up to the shelf ice which has been pushed up against the dunes.

Sand, ice & water.

This is looking straight down where we are standing. Tree trunks, rocks and ice all crashed together on the beach.
Looking east there is shelf ice along the shore where the sun doesn't shine this time of year.
I left here and drove to nearby Beverly Shores to visit with my friends Roger and Irene. They had just moved to a new place about 100 feet from their old place. They are always gracious hosts whenever anyone stops by. It was great to see both of them and catch up on how they have been since I last saw them. Since they live a block away from Lake View beach, I usually would take the dogs there. But the NPS has closed that beach due to the severe erosion. So I stopped at Dunbar Beach, but I was told there is a fifteen foot cliff to get down to the beach. So I parked at Kemil Beach and walked the dogs down to the beach. 
Here at Kemil we could walk right onto the beach.

Since we walked west the last time we were here...

...We walked east toward Dunbar Beach today. There is still shelf ice along this section of the beach. As you can see, it is a beautiful morning for a walk on the beach.

The dogs zigzagged from the water, to the ice, to the wet sand and the dry sand.

Looking back toward Kemil Beach.

Yeti enjoying our hike while walking on the sand covered ice.

Of course my brilliant dogs decide to walk through the muddy section of the beach.

There was a lot of ice on the shoreline.

Yeti posing for me on the ice. His brown fur looks much darker in the sun and snow than it does everywhere else.

My little girl Nola having fun on the beach.

We continued hiking east.

Just like all the other beaches around here, the first dune along the beach has been breached and flattened.

This rocky section of beach at Dunbar has withstood the damaging onslaught from Lake Michigan... 

...until the recent storms. There isn't as much beach here and the dunes are eroded and are now more like cliffs.

I liked the sand and rock covered snow and ice shapes here.

That is about a 25 foot high wall of sand to our right.

Then it drops down to about five feet near this 1933 Century of Progress House. The erosion uncovered an old wooden staircase (seen in this picture) at the bottom of the dunes

We continued eastward toward Lake View Beach.

But turned around because I didn't want to cross the wider than usual street drainage into the lake. I did see a truckload or two of sand was dumped on the beach on  Lake View Beach.

So we headed back on the lake side of the shelf ice.

Nola always explores places she can stick her head into.

While Yeti loves standing up to get a better view.

The water has been under cutting the shelf ice. 

I am fascinated by how thick the shelf ice is because it's been a mild winter so far.

Nola and Yeti on a stranded iceberg. 

We left the ice behind...

...and hiked up the dunes to the Lake Front Drive. Then walked past some abandoned houses to the trail through the woods that ends at the Kemil Beach parking lot.

Our hike through the woods was enjoyed by all of us.

I liked this shot due to the colors...

...but the B&W version looks more menacing.

I know it looks like Yeti is pooping on Nola. He isn't. But it made me laugh so I added it to my story anyway.

So this concludes our day at the beach story. If you 'd like to join us on one of our trips outdoors, please contact me any time. The only thing better than hiking, is hiking with more people. 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

January 14, 2020 Our Hike Through the Devastation of Last Weekend's Storms

Last weekend a brutal winter storm ripped through the Upper Midwest. The high winds caused a lot of destruction on the shores of Lake Michigan from Milwaukee over to Michigan. We were going to park at Lake Street Beach but crews with lots of large machinery were working in the parking lot and on the beach. So here we are in Marquette Park with Christy and Yeti relaxing on and under this Dr. Seuss looking tree.

Marquette Park looks fine...

...but as we walked toward the beach there were a few large tree trunks and lots of smaller debris that washed up over the small dune on the beach.

Once we got to the beach, there were very large pieces of driftwood and tree trunks strewn all over the beach up by the dunes. 

Small debris spread out across the sand.

The lake was very calm today as Nola got a drink...

...and Yeti played in the water.

I thought this was really bad. The dune along the beach got washed away. Little did I know that this wasn't as bad as what we found later on this hike.

As we hiked west toward Lake Street Beach, there were lots of trees that washed ashore and lots of dune grass that was flattened by the storm.

On the sand paths that take you from Marquette Park to the beach, the debris washed up about 150 feet from the shoreline.

This is mostly natural debris with some garbage mixed in.

As we got closer to Lake Street, giant sections of the dunes up to 4-5 feet high had washed away into the lake. This left behind dune grass that has been buried for years.

The reason there is more beach here is because the dunes have eroded away.

Christy and Nola walking along another pile of debris on the shoreline.

For some reason, I found a pile of shells only in this area.

All these trees were exposed from 4-5 feet high when this dune washed into Lake Michigan. It was incredible to see all the exposed roots and the different colors of the bark between what was buried and what was above the dunes.

This was stuck in the sand at Lake Street Beach. The crews were moving debris from the beach and sand from the parking lot back to the beach.

We continued west toward US Steel.

There was a huge sand bar far into the lake in this area....

...and lots of debris in the lake.


We saw lots of dune grass in the debris piles here. I also saw a few good size salmon on the beach.

Yeti was not as distraught as I was about the destruction of the dunes. He was having fun on the sand bars in the lake.

This was the first of several areas we found where the sand dune was breached and flattened out. The sand filled the swale to the next inland dune. I was stunned when I realized what happened here. 

Even Yeti stopped to check this out.

More areas where the dunes weren't breach but most of the sand washed into the lake.

Here you can see the color of the trunk change showing how much of this tree was buried in a dune until the storm hit.

I'm not good at distances but I'd guess the last half mile of the beach to the US Steel breakwall had the most damage.

Fallen trees where the dunes held strong to the raging lake...

...and multiple areas where the dunes lost that battle.

Another flattened dune.

It seems like the tree roots held enough sand to leave a bit of a ridge here.

Other areas just had sand that flowed another 100 - 200 feet inland.

I liked this shot because Yeti blends right in with the flow marks in the sand.

The sand filled in the swale and was stopped by the inland dune.

Looking east in the swale near the inland dune. This driftwood is about 200 feet from the lake.

The girls walking where their used to be 2-3 feet of water in a swale.
It's amazing to see this amount of sand moved by one storm.

A shot to show how far from the lake we are. 

The destruction hike continues west bound.

The shoreline debris pile is much thicker over here.

Downed trees and tangled dune grass are every where.

Except where the dunes were breached. These areas have been swept clean by Mother Nature.

Looking back over the area we just hiked.


Christy showing how high the dune used to be around this tree. There is still some sand stuck in the tree above her head.


More trees that used to be in five foot dunes.

More areas where the dunes were breached.

Some areas the dunes lost sand but weren't breached.

We decided to hike all the way to the U.S. Steel breakwall.

Yeti inspecting another destroyed sand dune.


Nola wondering WTF happened here.

The end of beach.

We've talked to surfers who say this is the best place to surf in this area. That might explain why the damage to the beach was so intense here.

A few more pictures as we hiked back to Marquette Park.

It appears that the tops of the smaller trees broke off before the dune washed away.

I'm a baseball fan. Of course I took a picture of this mitt. This was one of the stranger things I saw in a debris pile. It seems strange to lose a mitt on the lake. Then I thought maybe it was buried in a dune that washed away. I have seen old steel cans and old piping get exposed from collapsing dunes.

Nola getting a drink.

We spotted Lamb Chop about 5 feet up a tree. She looked ragged but survived the storm.

We were photographed walking back to Lake Street Beach by a NWI Times reporter covering the beach damage. He took our names and the dogs names but we never saw any photos. Then I found a video we are in.


You can see us in this video about the 1:00 minute mark.

We've seen enough beach destruction so we walked back to Marquette Park on the Chanute trail.