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.