Returning to Pt. Iroquois

Our first stop on Saturday was to Pt. Iroquois, the site of lighthouse, modest museum, and gift shop today, but significant long before to the Native Americans who lived there.

The following comes from the Pure Michigan pages for Sault Ste Marie area attractions.


The area around Sault Saint Marie (“The Soo”), including Whitefish Bay, has been called the “Heartland” of the Chippewa Indians. This tribe is also called Ojibwa, and sometimes refer to themselves as “Anishinabeg,” which is their word for “original people.” The Iroquois lived about 400 miles away, mostly in what is now western New York. In the 1600s these nations were at war, at least in part because of European influence and fur trade competition. The Iroquois often sent expeditions far from their homeland and attempted to control the trade routes leading east from the Great Lakes.
Accounts of an important battle at Point Iroquois in 1662 have been passed down for over 300 years. They tell how an Iroquois war party camped near the point where the lighthouse now stands, and how the Chippewa secretly watched their movements and mounted a surprise attack near dawn. The Iroquois were defeated decisively, and apparently never again ventured this far west.

Click here for more about the light itself.

As you can see, though it is certainly summer weather-wise in the southern Lower Peninsula where I live, it is still spring up in the UP. Many trees are still flowering or just pushing out their leaves and the weather was cool and breezy and marvelously sunny most of the time.

The boy and I climbed the 72 steps up to the top of the lighthouse.

But we spent most of our time on the beach looking at, collecting, and throwing stones.

One of the things I love about Lake Superior are the stony beaches that offer up a kaleidoscope of rocks to admire through the crisp, clear water.

My son and I had been here before, eight years ago…

…but of course he didn’t remember it. The beach was a bit stonier then. And it’s likely that the water is a bit higher now as Superior’s levels are close to the record high at the moment, courtesy of some extremely cold and snowy winters that helped reverse the effects of a few dry years over the Great Lakes Basin.

Lakes — and boys — can change a lot in eight years.

Lake Superior Stones: A Collector’s Lament

I love rocks. I like looking at them, feeling them, collecting them, putting them in jars.


But here’s the problem with being a rock collector at a National Park–you can’t collect the rocks.


All these lovely rocks and you have to leave them be.


And anyway, when you’re backpacking, you can’t really start socking away a bunch of rocks in your pack. Every ounce counts.


So while I would have liked to bring home a bunch of stone souvenirs, I mostly left them alone and took pictures (though I have to admit, I brought a few little ones home…they were tiny, really…no one will miss them).


I generally like stones for how they look and I don’t get deep into their composition, rarity, or how they formed (although, that does interest me).


And there are people far better qualified to identify all of these beauties than I.


I can tell you that I saw sedimentary rocks, like sandstone and the great conglomerate above.


And that I saw igneous rocks, like strips of granite, through metamorphic rocks, like gneiss, which you can see in a couple of these photos. And I wonder just how that granite found its way in there.

And I saw this great little scene of erosion and shaping by the waves and wind on the beach, like Pictured Rocks in miniature.

But I left them all there. For your trip.

On the Subject of Rocks and Gender-Based Marketing Ploys

Do you remember those pink and purple things called caboodles that were essentially just tackle boxes made all cutesy for girls? (Aside: I put this in the same condescending marketing category as the recent abomination that is “Legos for girls.” How insulting.) Well, sometime in the early 1990s, my sister and I got our very own caboodles. I’m fairly sure my sister kept things like hair ties, makeup, and jewelry in hers.

I kept rocks in mine.

I find that the compulsion to collect rocks does not wane as I age. Despite a large collection that has survived into my adult life, I find it very difficult to keep myself from filling my pockets with rocks, especially those found on lakeshores. And I still feel the need to organize them.

So I have a small bowl of rocks on the coffee table from Pt. Iroquois. And I have a giant pickle jar (like, we’re talking about a gallon here) of rocks gleaned from a particular fifteen or twenty foot stretch of Lake Louise. Not to mention the fossilized coral, which is kept separate. And various other rocks that find their way into an aquarium or on a shelf somewhere.

And despite the fact that my Lake Louise jar was full and I told myself in no uncertain terms that I did not need more rocks, I came home Saturday with 74 rocks and 25 fossils. Sunday night I scrubbed them all clean and laid them out on paper towels to dry. And now I’m in the market for another enormous pickle jar.

Why collect rocks? They are common. They are everywhere. I can see a rock on almost any trip to a natural area. I’m not expecting to find anything spectacular or rare, though perhaps one day I’ll stumble on an agate or a Petoskey stone. Why bring them home?

I don’t really have the answer to this. Just as I don’t really have the answer to the question of why everything marketed to girls must be pink or purple.