Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sea Caves

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Trip – 9/4/10 - Day 8 – Lakeshore Trail at Meyers Beach - 10 miles 

The last day of this big adventure at Lake Superior. First stop: Gruenke’s for breakfast! A different table, totally new view of the restaurant’s atmosphere, fantastic veggie omelets and fluffy pancakes. Now we were fortified for a trip to the Apostle Islands Visitor Center.

We were curious about the sea caves that we had missed on our kayak day. At the VC we saw an excellent slide show of the sea caves visible from the Lakeshore hiking trail at Meyers Beach – decision made! The rangers described the hike as muddy (maybe for normal people but not for us) and the turnaround at about three miles (again, for normal people but not for us – we stretched the six-mile out-and-back hike to ten miles).

The Apostle Islands are an archipelago, an island chain, of 21 islands. The steep sandstone walls of the mainland fronting on Lake Superior along Meyers Beach and on some of the islands can rise over 50 feet above the lake. Sea caves are carved from the sandstone by the relentless wind and waves and ice. Formations called windows and arches are also formed on sandstone that juts out into the lake. Sea stacks occur when the sandstone rock erodes between closely spaced joints. Click here for more info and great photos of sea caves.

The Lakeshore trail undulates around curves, at times jutting out into the lake to look back at the caves, at other times skirting the edge of the cliffs:

Sea caves (photo by Jeff)

Me on the edge of a cliff

Neil on top of an arch

A window

Wonder how that tree is hanging on?

Mike on top of a cave - would have been awesome to paddle in and out of them

Sea caves

Eventually the trail swung away from the shoreline (turnaround time for the normals) and we followed the trail looking for its end point on our map, near a backcountry campsite… or is it a beach? Or both? At this beach we took a lunch break and then some of us turned back while some looked for the connection between the beach and the alleged backcountry site.

 By the time we regrouped back at the cars the day was fading and we went back to Bayfield in search of our last meal. This being Saturday night of Labor Day weekend, a few thousand other tourists were also hungry so we had some wait time before we pulled up chairs to our table at Maggie’s. Our server was an older gal who needed a night off, but otherwise Maggie’s was lots of fun, especially if you like flamingos everywhere. Great food, a beverage or two, and then it was time to retreat to our luxurious cabins and cram stuff into duffel bags for the flight home.

Our North Shore/Isle Royale/Apostle Islands trip was a unique adventure that just gets better with the telling. I am so very fortunate to have the time, money, health, energy, friends and understanding spouse combo that makes it possible for me to enjoy these wonderful national treasures.

How to shake the let-down from a fabulous trip? Get back on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail!

 “Take nothing for granted. Not one blessed, cool mountain day or one hellish, desert day or one sweaty, stinky, hiking companion. It is all a gift.” ~ Cindy Ross, Journey on the Crest, 1987

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