Down the river, to the beach


Heavy rains pummeled the western Lake Superior area earlier this month. Up to six inches of rain fell in a band just south of Superior, Wisconsin…the headwaters of the Nemadji River. The rising river tore at the clay banks and carried everything it grabbed down to Lake Superior. It created not only a plume of red clay into the lake but a veritable parade of tree trunks, some more alive than others.

While the new horizontal forest is thickest down toward the end of Minnesota Point, there was still a lot of big wood on our own beach. My crafty neighbor quickly built an entire teepee frame out of the 8-10 foot logs. The 20-foot to 30-foot trees were just too big for him, and the fresh ones with their branches sanded clean by the current just too awkward.

A few days later, these skeleton trees began washing up on the Park Point beach. They must have followed the Nemadji current out through the Superior Entry and to the open lake.  These massive logs speak to the power of water and wind and waves.

I’m always nervous when things start washing up on the Lake Superior shore. Two years ago I was half-expecting to find a kayaker’s remains along our beach. This last rain storm, its downpour channeled into our streams, carried another victim to Lake Superior, Jefferson Bowen, a Duluth 13-year-old, who drowned on Amity Creek and whose body was found up the shore from the mouth of the Lester River a few days later.

But almost all the time, the Lake brings cool, good things. Like massive driftwood. Agate chips. Foreign beer cans. And, so his family can rest, the body of a adventurous kid.


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