Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

This is quite a beautiful park with a lower and upper falls.  The lower falls can be seen in the background of the above picture. We had a wonderful day in this park yesterday.  And I could not help but think of our family and friends currently sweltering in the lower states.  We had a rather pleasant light cool breeze on us all day.  Many rivers flow north into Lake Superior, including the Tahquamenon River.  They are on an escarpment  forming some of Michigan's most spectacular waterfalls, the upper falls at Tahquamenon being the second largest of all the falls east of the Mississippi.  The Tahquamenon River rises from springs and drains a watershed of more than 790 square miles, which explains the source of water for the falls which has a height of 50 feet and is 200 feet across.  The amber color of the water is not rust or mud but is caused by the cedar, spruce and hemlock trees in the swamps drained by the river. The turbulent falls stirs up all that vegetation and produces a lot of foam, which we saw not only in the water but also floating in the air above the falls.
The many bird songs and their calls to each other caught our attention as we were hiking around the falls. We were able to catch a glimpse of the Blackburnian Warbler- a bird, which, as we learned from an interpretive sign on the trail,  likes to hang around the upper falls, where we saw him.  He migrates during the winter to  Central and South America.  Another bird, pointed out to us by a man on the nature trail, was the Bohemian waxwing- we were certain it was not the cedar waxwing because he likes open habitats, not the woodlands where the Bohemian waxwing hangs out- he especially likes the black spruce.  Speaking of woodlands, there has been a great deal of logging in this area for 40 years, it has been estimated that about one billion white and red pine were removed.  However, in Tahquamenon Park there are still old- growth forests of sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, and eastern hemlock. From the park we drove to Whitefish Point Lighthouse.
  At the light station there is a museum concerning ships lost to the treacherous waves of Lake Superior, with an emphasis on the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald.  However, I choose to spend more of my time on the beach than in the museum.  Many beautiful smooth stones can be found on the beach, including agates.

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