Emily is Out and About in the Keweenaw

Out and about in the keweenaw

Here are some highlights from my first couple of weeks at Keweenaw National Historical Park!

country roads do in fact take me home

I am fully convinced that the Upper Peninsula is the land of alluring pathways and roads. I mean… come on! No matter where you go, there is a view. I love driving and looking into the dense forest. I am always amazed at how dark it is, the canopy is almost like a black-out curtain. My favorite road right now is highway 26 because there are a ton of little waterfalls that drain under the road!

deep diving into history

Keweenaw National Historical Park focuses on the history of copper mining in the Keweenaw Peninsula and the lives of those living in the region at the time of mining. It has been fun to dive into topics that interest me and are relevant to the fishing programs that I am planning. I have been most interested in stamp sands, immigration, damming, commercial fishing, shipwrecks, maritime folklore, and how different cultures cook fish!

These two photos were taken in Gay, MI. Gay was home to a copper mill, and is now best known for the stamp sands that cover its beaches. The photo on the left is of the smokestack that was used when smelting while processing copper (yes, it is that tall in person). The structure is almost entirely intact!

The image to the right is a very small section of the stamp sands that cover much of the west side of the Keweenaw Bay. Copper can form as small pieces embedded in rock. In order to get the copper, the rock must be crushed so that the copper is freed. The waste rock material is what makes up stamp sands. These sands were dumped into Lake Superior and have been wreaking havoc ever since. The sands are toxic to any and all life because of the high levels of copper and other materials. Buffalo Reef is being most at risk because it is an important spawning ground for lake trout and whitefish. There are several projects under way to try to save the reef!

Animal Friends

There is an abundance of wildlife up here. I’ve checked deer, squirrels, crows, foxes, coyotes, lake trout, rainbow trout, arctic grayling, and even a sandhill crane off of my list of wildlife spotted! I am still excitedly waiting to spot a bear or moose. Planning programs has allowed me to learn so much about the wildlife in the Keweenaw, especially the fish. I just found out about splake trout! They are a cross between lake and brook (spotted) trout and were bred to be able to withstand a wider variety of environments. 

I saw this baby fox on my first day here.

Awful quality photo, but this is mama fox.

Maybe it’s not the friendliest face in the word, but impactful, nonetheless. I had an awesome opportunity to visit the Fish and Wildlife Sea Lamprey HQ in Marquette, MI. The slimy, parasitic creatures have fully invaded all of the Great Lakes and are feasting on the aquatic life in them. Sea lamprey have been catastrophic to fish populations since the late 1800s! Fish and Wildlife have a HUGE operation throughout all of the Great Lakes to get the lamprey in control. It was amazing to meet some of the people in charge of the fight against sea lamprey, and also to learn how they are fighting as well!

Powerful Lake Superior

Lake Superior is known for its pristine waters, but it is also known for being extremely dangerous. While I fear Lake Superior at times, I always marvel at it for its unpredictable nature. One moment the sun will be shining, and the next there is a fog so thick that you can’t see 5 feet in front of you. Experiencing the fog and seemingly random storms firsthand makes the 550 shipwrecks in the lake make a little bit more sense. There are no good or bad days for weather. Up here, there are good or bad minutes. 

Here are a few examples of what a good day on the lake looks like. Sunsets are gorgeous and the lake is inviting. My favorite part of sunset is when the sky seems to meet the water. I am absolutely guilty of taking accidental sunset naps on the beach.

What a “bad” day on Lake Superior looks like. AKA still stunningly beautiful! I almost prefer the gloomier days at times. The wind is always cold and crisp. It’s fun to have what feels like a fall day in June.

starry nights

Well… how do you beat this? At the end of every day, after all of the views on earth, I have a clear view of the galaxy. Sitting under the stars has helped me in a number of ways. I have been able to reflect on how grateful I am to be living here, have a few brief moments of existential dread (lightyears???), come up with some pretty cool programs, and, most importantly, breathe.

Thanks for reading. talk soon!

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