Tuesday, January 29, 2019

January 26 & 27, 2019 Walking in a Winter Wonderland at the Beach

Saturday Jan 26th
The details...it is a beautiful January day in Gary's Marquette Park. The sun is shining and we have mostly blue skies. It is only 13 degrees but very little wind makes for a comfortable hike if dressed properly. So the Fun Bunch Three...me, Oslo and Nola are going to explore along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. I am the only one wearing extra layers.

Here's a fun facts sign about the lake just off the playground as you head toward the beach.

These two are always willing to go for a hike with me. Here we are cutting across the dunes to the beach.

If you are reading this, you probably already know how much being out in natural areas means to me. There is so much beauty in our world, you just have to get outside to find it.

The recent cold snap brought our mild winter to a quick end. The sand was frozen solid and there were many areas that had snow covered ice. We were the only ones on the beach. The solitude not only amazes me, it also relaxes me. 

The couple of hours spent hiking with my dogs are like escaping from the rest of the world on days like this one. These short nature diversions are what keep me sane.

It was so damn quiet and stunningly beautiful to me.

The shelf ice along the shore made crackling sounds but you had to stand still to hear them.

Nola enjoying the beach.

It looks so peaceful but there were examples all over the beach and on the lake that showed the  violent damage done by Mother Nature. Just off the shoreline, a storm caused beach erosion that broke up the sand. Then a sudden drop in temperatures, froze the water covered sand which then got covered by the falling snow. Now it looks like a fault line collided on the shore of Lake Michigan.

My hiking buddy telling me it is time to move along. I was laying down enjoying the blue sky.

Some driftwood on the shoreline covered in ice.

The shelf ice extended out about one hundred feet in some places. I took this from the lifeguard chair that was frozen into the sand. This is looking west toward East Chicago.
My goofy dogs down below.

Looking east toward Michigan City

The shelf ice is incredible to see. There are so many different shapes and forms. A time lapse video of it forming would be amazing to me. I'm not sure how this volcano looking ice cone was formed but I assume that water shot up through an opening to cause it to create this mound among mostly flat ice.

More broken apart and frozen sand. The shelf  ice here is about ten feet above the shore.

The violent beauty of a beach in winter.

The old man enjoying the beach.

Dark clouds were forming over the lake and the shelf ice was closer to twenty feet above the shoreline here.

The erosion of the dunes away from the waterline shows how much sand was washed away recently.

Ice formed while water was still dripping off the broken off chunk of sand.

We cut across the parking lot toward the lagoon. Someone put these colorful planter pots near the newly installed non motorized boat launch.

The lagoon froze over much more calmly than Lake Michigan did.

Oslo decided it was time to relax...

...and enjoy a snow cone.

Nola stayed on guard to protect us because she believes everything she reads on the internet.

We walked back to the car on the park side of Marquette Park.

They are trying protect a small tract of wetlands on this side of the park.

My Arctic adventurers trying to blend in.

I loved the tree shadow on the snow. The Aquatorium is across the street.

It began to snow again later in the afternoon. Oslo went outside while I shoveled. He sat here so long he was covered in snow. He looked like a snow covered Sphinx.

Sunday Jan 27th
The details...it is only 5 degrees this morning with a bit stronger wind than yesterday but it is still manageable if dressed properly. Now that the government shutdown is over, I stopped at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to pick up our 2019 National Park pass. You do not need one to visit the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore sites because they are free. But we buy one every year to support the NPS. It's only $80 and due to ignorant politicians, the park system could always use more support. So if you able to spare a few dollars, pick up a pass and enjoy some adventures this year.

We are at Lake View Beach in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The shelf ice goes out into the lake for as far as I can see. The sun is shining from south of us but really dark storm clouds are over the lake this morning.

Unfortunately, we can not get down to the beach due to the erosion of the dunes that has created a 6 to 10 foot drop off to the beach.

The sky looks brighter to the west. 

But we walk east hoping we can access the beach from the deck area.

It turns out that storms have destroyed the wooden ramp down to the beach and the staircase from the parking was also destroyed.

All we could do was enjoy the cold weather beauty all around us. Nola loved the view over the ice and snow covered boulders used to protect the shoreline here.

It looked so beautiful even though there was no safe way to climb down to the beach.

There was ice several inches thick on just about everything along the waterline.

The sunlight back lit this selfie in an amusing way to me.

Very thick ice hanging off the branches of this tree down to the ground. 

I climbed out onto the rocks for better shots.

The ramp down to the beach.

Looking east across the lake

We ran into a lady from Michigan City sitting on the ground enjoying the beautiful view of the lake. Oslo sat next to her. As we talked about how incredible it was here, she kept petting Oslo. She just loved how sweet he was. I explained that he loves this weather and that he found a kindred spirit in her. He could sit here for hours but eventually we moved along in search of finding access to the beach.

Snow and ice for as far I as I could see on the lake.

Nola searching for path to the beach.

Nola searching for something under the snow on the rocks.

She eventually gave up.

We drove down the street and parked at the recently plowed Dunbar parking lot. Then we found our way to the beach...

...by way of this sloped path through the eroded dunes.

Finally, we are on the beach.

Oslo lead us west toward Kemil Beach.

The shelf ice was pretty flat at first...

...then it got more interesting.

The scenery changes every few feet along the shelf ice. It really does amaze me all the different ways a lake can freeze.

Giant ice chunks, ice ridges, flat ice with balls of ice scattered all over it or ice as smooth as glass.

It really was a winter wonderland walk on the beach today.

This was where I sat down and listened to the shifting ice plates crash and crackle oh so quietly. Then Oslo eating chunks of ice behind me drowned out that sweet sound.

We found an interesting ice cave filled with a big chunk of ice right on the shoreline.

The beach was coated with ice which made it difficult for me to walk, so we walked back to Dunbar along Lake Front Drive. Oslo walking down the middle of the street like a white walker from Game of Thrones...

...while Nola kept jumping into the deep snow drifts along the dunes like the crazy dog she is.

Back at the parking lot, I loved this shot of the bare tree against the blue sky with the white snow and ice ground cover. A perfect day for a long walk at the beach.

The old man slept across the back seat all the way home...

...then spent the rest of the day lounging in the back yard. He is so happy there is snow everywhere. And I am so happy that he finally got his winter weather.