Northern Sights

October 13, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

There's so much to see in Wisconsin that just daytripping around doesn't do it justice.  You have to get out and stay in a place so you can explore around and see where the roads take you.  It's also quite a drive from the southern part of the state to the Lake Superior area so once you get there it's important to take the time to look around.  This past week the fall colors were patchy depending on what area you wandered through but at times it was surprising how bright and varied the trees were.  The state's fall color map this year seems to be ahead of the change, indicating an area to be peak about a week before it actually is.  I guess they've gotten complaints about the map being behind, where people drive to an area expecting peak color only to find most of the leaves gone or brown.  It's a tough job to predict what will be colorful in what area and when - you almost have to live in an area and get out every day to judge how autumn is coming along. For me it's the driving around to explore and see where the color is that's the fun part of getting out this time of year.

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Ok, most of these pictures aren't actually in Wisconsin but rather in the Porcupine Mountains in the far western part of Michigan's Upper Penisula.  With the number of Wisconsin license plates on the roads, though, it felt like an honorary part of the state and the colors were nice so it's where I made several images.

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This is the Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains, a shallow body of water left behind by the glaciers.  Just over the ridge to the left is Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes.  Quite a contrast.

Also in the Porcupine Mountains, these are the falls at Presque Isle.  An interesting part of this stream cutting its way through the very old shale are the potholes, seen in the lower center far bank.  The sediment picked up by the stream acts like sandpaper to grind out these eddies, resulting in a swirl of water circling on itself as it passes downstream.

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OK, these are in Wisconsin, surprises one finds by just looking around.  This is the Crex National Wildlife Refuge in the far northwestern part of the state.  Over 32,000 acres of reclaimed marsh and logged-over prairie.  Lots of different ecologies here but mostly marshy lakes that serve the waterfowl during migrations twice a year.  There were lots of sandhill cranes gathering to head south but the standout travelers were the swans.  These three were swimming out of a small inlet into a larger channel and I liked how they resembled battleships steaming in formation.

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The challenge here was actually finding the bridge.  It was mentioned in one travel guide but didn't show up on the large-scale map I used and the people in the nearest town didn't seem to know how to get to it.  Thankfully Garmin knew where it was so after a few backtracking visits to gravel roads there it was.  This part of the state was behind on fall color formation - should be very promising next week.

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This is Copper Falls, one of many falls in the northern part of the state.  The Bad River has been cutting through this basalt for quite some time but it's not minerals that give the water a brewed tea color.  Rather it's the tannins extracted from the conifer needles that fall in the water.  So many evergreens mean not much fall color but there were a few specimens that could be put in the composition.

Lots of time on the road wandering around lakes and marshes.  It feels like there are few straight paths from one town to another but it's that something-new-around-every-bend feeling that makes photography fun.

 


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