My visit: Aug. 2011
Even though I had met her before, when I stayed a week here watching her changing moods, I fell madly and hopelessly in love with Lake Superior!
On my first night, I watched the sun melt right into her. Her mood then was very calm and soothing and I loved how accessible she is to the campground right across the road.
2017 Update: I heard from a frequent camper friend I met here and who lives in the area that so much of the park has eroded and returned to the lake.
She said the area where the benches were and the first row of camping sites are gone and the area is roped off because of continuing erosion.
I guess I’m not too shocked though, because when I talked to the Park Manager then (interview below), he told me of the problems and the continuing search for a solution, but I guess Mother Superior had her way after all.
I’m sure the park is still great, but that still made me so sad to hear! But I’m thrilled I was able to see it when I did and I still look forward to seeing it again some day!
On my last day there, I was already dreading leaving and feeling a bit blue at the thought. It was really windy and I walking along the beach admiring the waves and the rocks and the driftwood. I was in such awe and overcome with emotion that I said to myself, “I love you, Lake Superior – do you know that?” And about that time, I came across this rock heart someone had made on the beach – and someone was there to take my picture in it! I think it was either Lake Superior letting me know she heard me and/or she was telling me she loves me too!
This is a one minute video I caught of that day featuring a canoe being blown down the shore. (I did go move it from the edge when it stopped flying…)
No matter how much she is loved, though, Lake Superior has her dark side… Here you can see how she is slowly but surely claiming this beachfront as her own. I was told the erosion has been one of those no-win deals for a long time.
Park Supervisor, Lee VerBerkmoes, explained the issues with the unrelenting erosion by Lake Superior – seems she wants these sites as her own! He showed me one of the methods they’ve tried for erosion prevention. This gabion method (retaining wall of thick galvanized wire filled with stacked stones) didn’t work, unfortunately…the gabion is now falling into the lake.
“This has all occurred within the past 15 years or so – pretty fast, geologically speaking… McLain is very much subject to erosion damage when there is a ‘Nor-wester’ coming at it off Lake Superior. Since Lake Superior even generates her own weather patterns, we can’t fight mother nature at McLain.”
It broke my heart to hear the DNR knows it will have to move this campground eventually because they have researched or tried every financially feasible option. There’s talk of moving the campground to the Breakwaters area (shown on main Park Scenes page). See Campground – Lakefront Sites for pictures of great sites that have already been closed due to the potential danger.
When I was discussing this sad situation with Jean, one of the state workers at the registration office, she sagely said, “Lake Superior is big and tough – she eventually wins…”
We also talked about how hard it is to really define what makes this place so exquisitely special. She said so many people have come here and said the same thing – they wish they could define it or capture it in words or pictures – but there’s just no way.
I know sometimes I must sound crazy about Lake Superior, but in talking to people around the park, I know I’m not the only one. As a neighbor from Wisconsin said, “Once you’ve seen Lake Superior, you’ve got to come back every year because she feeds your soul…” Besides being so pristine and clean, there really are just are no words to adequately convey how special she is…but it’s such a special feeling just to be around her, that’s all I can say…
Many people mentioned they come here just to watch the weather come in and move across the water. And that the lake is different every time they come.
We love you, Lake Superior!
|All Michigan Miles pages about McLain State Park:|
Inside the State Park:
Nearby Activities and Attractions:
|Other Area Information:|
|Keweenaw National Historic Park
Keweenaw: Michigan’s Top of the World
|Keweenaw Peninsula (Hunts Guide)
McLain State Park (Copper Country)
I'd love to hear your own experiences about places I've been - and what you think are "must-sees" - and I really value any suggestions and feedback from readers, so please let me have your 2 cents in Comments below: