The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oil Clean-up Continues

The booming and skimming efforts continue at several points along the Kalamazoo River. These first photos are from today (Friday, July 30) at Historic Bridge Park.

There is still a lot of oil on the surface of the water and even some small chunks of crude floating by, but it has decreased since I went there on Wednesday.

After checking out the river, I drove some supplies to Marshall. Here, at Crossroads Church, they are collecting what is needed to clean and rehab wildlife injured by the spill.

They are also collecting bottled water to distribute to residents who live near the spill.

To learn more about what they need and when, join the Facebook Group: Kalamazoo River Oil Spill.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Worst Oil Spill in the History of the Great Lakes

The EPA now estimates that 1 million gallons of crude oil have been released from the ruptured Enbridge Energy pipeline. Much of that oil has made its way into the Kalamazoo River.

I traveled further downstream from the spill today. The efforts to boom and skim the oil are underway at several points on the river.

The first two photos are on the river in Galesburg, 20 miles downstream from the spill. The sheen was light here, but still evident.

The photo to the left shows the power plant on Morrow Lake. There is a dam here and officials were hopeful that this barrier along with booms could be used to contain the oil.

In Comstock, just downstream from this dam, I saw a light sheen on the edges of the water where it had pooled in the shallows.

Below is video I shot today.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oil Spill in West Michigan Heading Toward Lake Michigan

The overpowering smell of oil on the river is a much stronger warning than the signs which are posted for miles along the Kalamazoo River. I stopped at three points along the river for maybe 15 minutes total, and came away with a fierce headache.

This river flows through the center of Battle Creek (where I live), then through the towns of Galesburg, Kalamazoo, Plainwell, and Allegan. Then, finally, between the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck before joining LAKE MICHIGAN. There are many wetlands along the way and the river harbors much wildlife. I've kayaked stretches of this river and have seen deer, turtles, blue heron, trout, and muskrat.

Estimates of the amount of oil have been raised to one million gallons. Why was the oil allowed to gush for hours before the flow in the pipeline was shut off? We're still waiting for an answer from Enbridge Energy.

The last photo here is of the Ceresco Dam in Marshall. The EPA is using a Coast Guard helicopter to survey the extent of the spill. This is just a mile or two from origin of the spill. The second photo shows how the crude oil is gathering in the vegetation.

Watch the video below for a closer look at the spill.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ellsworth Shale

During my visit to Torch Lake, I met up with Gerry Sell (and her dogs Miss Sadie and the Cowboy). They walked with me during my lake trek along the shoreline just north of Elk Rapids.

This time, they walked with me along their 'home stretch' of the lake just south of Barnes Park near Eastport.

Gerry pointed out the Ellsworth Shale deposit in the area. This shale is greenish and is found south of the Antrim (grey) shale outcropping.

In the photos above, you can see the shale deposits extending out into the lake.

Check out the link to Gerry's blog in the sidebar: Torch Lake Views.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Treacherous Manitou Passage

In Benjamin J. Shelak's Shipwrecks of Lake Michigan, he says that "...treacherous weather, numerous islands,and reefs waiting to smash unwary vessels, and frequent boat traffic, the northern region of Lake Michigan was the scene of some very early wrecks."

On my way home from my time at Torch Lake, I wound my way down the shoreline and stopped to do some hiking in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is one of my favorite stretches of the lake; the Manitou Islands sit just offshore here.

I hiked several miles south from the Maritime Museum at Glen Haven.

I walked for miles without seeing any other people or even footprints on the shore. There are large dunes here and there are few access points to the lakeshore.

Here's what I came across on this little traveled stretch:

It was rather camouflaged under the sand and pulsing waves, but as I investigated, this was revealed:

This 25 foot section of wooden boat was held together by metal rods and braces. I hiked back to the Maritime Museum and spoke to the rangers. They didn't know about this find, so when I got home I e-mailed my photos to them.

Here's a photo with my (size 11) foot in the shot to add some scale to the size of these boards:

I've asked the rangers to let me know if they find out more about this piece of ship, so I'll post more when I hear from them.

YES, I discovered a SHIPWRECK!
(Well, at least a piece of it...)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Torch Lake & Lake Michigan

I just returned home from a few days up north on the shores of Torch Lake. My friend Ann (relaxing in photo above with her dog, Rocky) graciously shared her special spot on the lake.

Torch Lake is the second largest inland lake (Houghton Lake is the largest) in Michigan. Torch is actually deeper at over 300 feet deep. At the northern end of Torch, it almost touches Lake Michigan, and was surely once connected to the Great Lake like many other 'orphan' inland lakes.

This little getaway allowed me the opportunity to revisit some of the most unusual geology I saw while on my Lake Trek, where the Antrim Shale deposit is exposed on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. In the photo below, I am kneeling near and touching a concretion, a geode that formed within the shale. These formations pop out of the shale as it flakes off over multiple freeze/thaw cycles.

In my hand is a collection of the shale fragments. The Antrim Shale is dark grey or black. The Ellsworth Shale found just south of here is a greenish grey (I'll show photos of that deposit in another post).

To the right, Ann sits on a concretion most recently liberated from within the shale wall.

The photo below shows the shoreline dotted with these concretions (please don't disturb or damage these formations if you do visit them).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summertime at the Lake

My friend, Joan Donaldson, had a reading at the Douglas Library last week. I drove out to the lakeshore in time to visit the lake for a few moments at Pier Cove.

I have a difficult time just sitting on the beach, as you might imagine. I look up that shoreline and feel it pull on me.

I enjoyed a short walk, then caught Joan's reading from On Viney's Mountain, her award-winning middle reader novel (10-years old and up). The story is set in Tennessee, and the state recently chose her book to represent the state at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.!