Last weekend I received word that the spring melt was underway along the streams flowing into Lake Superior. On Monday I headed for northern Wisconsin and the Minnesota North Shore.
The first stop was Amnicon Falls State Park. I had been in the park two weeks earlier and found the river flowing but still a lot of ice in the river. The river was now open with only a small amount of ice to be found. The water levels were high but I have seen them a lot higher. I managed to find a new shooting location from a gully that leads down to the bottom of Snake Pit Falls. Water was also flowing over Now and Then Falls.
I then drove into Minnesota with the first stop Gooseberry Falls State Park. The park had reported that the ice went out during the weekend. Two weeks ago the falls were almost solid ice. The sudden onset of warm weather had resulted in the rapid rise of the water. By Monday water levels were was already going down.
It was a bright sunny day so I headed up to Grand Marais to get a place to stay for the night. I stopped only briefly before heading up to the Canadian border and Grand Portage State Park. I have photographed at High Falls late in the day with some success even when the sun is out so I had high hopes. As soon as I hit the trail from the visitors center I could hear the falls so I knew something special was going on. The trail in was icy in spots. When I reached the falls there was a lot of water coming over. In fact there was so much water it was creating its own weather system. It was impossible to shoot from two of the overlooks because there was so much spray in the air and it was blowing down the canyon directly into the camera. The first lookout also had spray but it wasn’t constant so I did manage to get some shots. When the water hit the base of the falls it exploded into the air reaching almost to the top of the falls. At one point there were three different rainbows below the falls.
After spending some time at the falls and getting more than a little wet I headed back to Grand Marais and a fine dining experience at Sven & Ole’s. By the time I was done eating it was almost sunset so I walked out onto the harbor to take a few photographs. I thought it was going to be a really nice sunset because there were a lot of thick clouds earlier in the evening but they dissipated leaving only a few clouds in the west. I noticed a Seagull perched on of the harbor lights and tried to get a photo with the sunset in the background. By the time I was ready to take the photo the Seagull was gone but I did manage to get one of the light.
In the morning I had hoped to get some sunrise shots but at daylight it was raining out and there was no sunrise shots. After an early breakfast I headed back south. The first stop was Cascade River State Park. The trail was a little icy in spots but I hiked into the cascades. Even though the sun was now out it is possible to photograph up through the cascades early in the morning. There was quite a bit of water flowing but I have seen much higher water at the cascades. Some of the familiar logs that have been jammed in the canyon for several years were missing this year.
I then drove on to the Temperance River. Unfortunately I have a habit of driving past this river on bright sunny days. The river consists of some deep canyons that are very difficult to photograph when the sun is out. If you get there early in the morning it helps. Quite a bit of water was running and it made for dramatic views in the canyons. There was some ice on the trail so it was a little tricky getting around.
The next stop was at Split Rock Lighthouse to use the facilities and ask about hiking trails north of the Lighthouse. I was more than a little surprised to find the lighthouse visitors center closed. Apparently it doesn’t open until mid May. The gate was open so I wandered around the grounds and took a few shots of the Lighthouse and other buildings.
Lunch was at Betty’s Pies. This could get to be habit forming. After lunch I decided I had enough of trying to photograph waterfalls in bright sunlight so I drove down to Wisconsin Point. A couple of weeks ago the ice along the shore was so high that I could hardly see the lighthouse. Now there was still ice along the shore but not nearly as much. Most of it was covered with sand which apparently blew onto the ice from the beach. There were quite a few Seagulls around so I spend some time walking along the beach taking photos of them on the ice. At one point a large section of ice broke off surprising the Gulls.
That ended my day and I headed home. I did conclude that even though it was fun to see the waterfalls during the spring melt I would much prefer to photograph them when the water is lower. Low water means many more photographic opportunities.