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Monday, September 17, 2012

September Dreaming

Agate Beach, Grand Marais, Michigan 
“What do you do up there?” people sometimes ask when they hear we’re going to the U.P. again. We are not summer campers or winter snowmobilers, so how do we pass the time on vacation? Basically, we walk and talk, drive and look, read, draw, dream, and share our dreams. Obviously, one of the places we walk is on the shore of Lake Superior. Wind gusts, breakers crash and pound, and beautiful stones are tumbled about with each succeeding wave.

Looking west
Looking east
When we’ve had enough of exciting wind and waves, we retreat up the beach to behind the treeline. One morning found us at a sheltered picnic table, David with his book and I with my sketchpad. Another day it was old fishing boats that had us dreaming. Arbutus used to fish out of Naubinway, but it was Vagabond that stirred David’s imagination this year. While I was busy with my camera, David was mentally refitting a fish tug to serve as a live-aboard studio cruiser.


H-58 between Grand Marais and Munising is a paved road now, and we have mixed feelings about that. It’s much easier on vehicles and drivers. On the other hand, one no longer has the general feeling of traveling through and into the past--except that this year, during a “pit stop” for Sarah in an old, logged-over area, I stumbled upon something I’d never seen before. 

How, in the old days, did you “get your bearings” in the trackless forest? Here’s how:

That made my day! Of course, there's a lot more to the story, and here is just a sample:
Bearing trees are a special kind of witness tree which the surveyors notched, blazed, and scribed in a standard way to facilitate the relocation of the survey corner should the wooden corner post or corner stone be lost or moved. The surveyor was required to note for each bearing tree: 1) its type (~species), 2) its diameter, 3) its distance to the corner, and 4) its azimuth or “bearing” from the corner and hence its applied name. These are the actual data associated with an individual bearing tree that ecologists use. Witness tree is a broader term that includes trees that were marked on line or near the corner, generally without the required distance and bearing notes required of a true bearing tree. Thus true bearing trees, line trees, and generic witness trees were distinguished in the field with appropriate inscriptions (BT, LT, WT respectively) and are distinguished in the notes as well. Bearing trees were required at both the standard corners of the rectangular survey grid and at points on the survey lines where the surveyors were forced to meander around impassable areas such as lakes .  The NHIS Bearing Tree Database Contains only records of true bearing trees at the standard survey corners

For the rest, go to the Minnesota site where I found the information above. Sorry I could not find anything directly bearing on Michigan's current data collection project. 


Dawn said...

How cool. The whole trip, but especially the boats and the lake. Love that lake almost as much as I love Lake Michigan. I lived in Hancock for 6 years and spent most weekends exploring somewhere along Lake Superior. Don't know how I came to end up so land-locked down here! :)

P. J. Grath said...

On our way home, I observed to David that we had had a very watery trip: around Grand Traverse Bay, up past Torch Lake and Charlevoix and Petoskey to the Straights of Mackinac, along the top of Lake Michigan on U.S. 2, along the Lake Superior coast between Grand Marais and Munising a couple of times, once as far as Marquette. I could live in St. Ignace. I could live in Houghton. I could live in Grand Marais. Always tell David I could live in Melstrand, too: though that's not on the water, something about it draws me. A pioneer outpost!