Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Copper Peak and the Black River Falls

Yesterday turned out to be quite a physically exhausting day. We climbed another ski jump and hiked to several falls. The ski jump is at Copper Peak hill. It is the tallest flying ski jump in the world. Yes, I did say that the last ski jump we climbed was the highest. But that was not a  flying ski jump. This one we needed to take a chair lift to the crest of the hill and then a 18-story elevator, after which we had to climb a series of steps before reaching the very top. From the top we could see 100 miles across Lake Superior to the Minnesota, Canadian border.What a view from that height!
The ski jump has not been operational since 1994. They are currently making physical improvements on it, including the construction of ponds which will collect water needed for the snow machines. The weather sometimes warms up during the winter months and melts the snow on the hill. There are only about 100 jumpers in the world qualified to use this jump, hopefully it will be ready for them in a few years. The rest of our day Sunday was spent exploring the falls along the Black River. Interestingly enough, some of the trails along the river connect to the North Country Trail, a hiking path from New York to North Dakota. We hiked to Conglomerate Falls as well as the Potoawatomi Falls, which was all of about 4 miles. We then drove to Sandstone Falls,  where John commented that all of these falls are geological wonders. Over the years retreating glaciers left behind large boulders of rock, some of which are composed of  conglomerate (a variety of different rocks cemented together). During that time rivers of water flowing over those rocks created the river gorges and falls which we saw along the Black River. At Sandstone Falls we could especially see   how the forces of nature interacted  to create different layers of rock. Conglomerate rock at Sandstone Falls lies on top of layers of sandstone. The Blackstone River crashes wildly down, around and over the large rock formations. In some places it has scoured out large potholes.
Getting down to Sandstone Falls required traversing many steps. To give ourselves a break before hiking to the next falls (Rainbow Falls) we drove over to Black River Harbor, where the river flows into Lake Superior.
After hiking over to Rainbow Falls we stopped for the town picnic at Bessemer, Michigan. Never before did a burger, beer and an ear of corn taste so good!  A local band, Marty's Goldenaires, provided the music.

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