February 20 brought some major wind to Duluth and Lake Superior. With gusts up to 55mph (measured at Sky Harbor Airport – an airport that is at the end of Park Point, a peninsula reaching into Lake Superior) the Lake was rageful and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go see it in action. We weren’t the only ones! Granted, most of the people who had flocked to Canal Park for the same reasons as us were foolish college children wanting to prove they are super-tough. One guy went to this battle in only shorts and a hoodie. On a side note: there is a smart way and a stupid way to take risks while achieving the same result.
Anyway, as we got out of the car we saw one young man slip on the icy parking lot pavement. Mike said, “Be careful, it looks icy,” and then promptly proceeded to slip and nearly fall on his butt as he stepped outside the comfort of our Cavalier. The Lake and the wind had covered the lot, and everything around it, in a glare sheet of ice. This, of course, did not deter us from our adventure and we warily made our way to the boulders along the shoreline.
SPLOOSH! “I’m glad I wore my boots,” I said as my foot landed in a 4-inch deep puddle of slush and freezing water. We marched on.
SSSPPPPLASH! A wave crashed into the boulders and pelted us with ice, slush and freezing spray. It actually put a chunk of ice in my coat pocket! We decided to head for some cover. There is a little stand that is closed in the winter, but in the summer sells fresh and smoked fish, and mini-doughnuts to the tourists. It’s shaped like a boat. We hid behind it and watched the craziness in relative safety. Most of the pictures I took are from that vantage point, but we did, after a while, venture out from behind our boat and I got some shots of Mike, in between frozen waves, in front of an anchor that had about 6 inches of ice on it.
Eventually the water was too powerful and ended up soaking through our clothing (2 pair of socks, 2 pair of longjohns, 1 pair of jeans and heavy-duty winter boots for me) and man was that a painful kind of cold! It didn’t take long to make the decision to leave the awesome spectacle and rush home to our furnace. Even after a 15 minute drive in a warm car our clothes had frozen so solid that they were still like pieces of really cold body armour when we got home. I took a video of myself knocking on the hood of my sweatshirt. It sounded like a pinata!
It was a fantastic adventure and I am so fortunate to live in a place with this kind of excitement. People who tell me there’s nothing to do in Duluth, I have to assume, are boring people themselves. There is always something going on; just look out the window!
- January on Lake Superior (itsalifelived.wordpress.com)
- Some Lake Superior sightseers like it cold (duluthnewstribune.com)