Monday, October 31, 2016

Wilbo Asks, "What's an Upper Peninsula town lacking a waterfall"?

What's an Upper Peninsula town lacking a waterfall. Equal to an Ontario town without a Tim Horton's Coffee and Doughnut shop, a 24 hour a day Canadian institution. That's what. L'Anse has two rivers that meet Keweenaw Bay at her waterfront, and the Falls River has a waterfall that neighbors or tourists can walk to after ice cream or a good dinner downtown.

The trail passes between the river and the fenced in coal yard of a small power plant with air quality issues. A group of environmentalist have kept steady pressure on the plant, a fact apparent by reading cork boards at coffee shops and laundry mats. Marked with blue blazes on trees, the trail passes over large structures of slate, slate as common as ore bearing rock around Baraga County. The falls has carved water courses through these structures of slate.

I found a huge flow of slate to clamber upon and take a few waterfall snapshots. Feeling excited, I climbed up the slate slope and found a place to sit and I closed my eyes to meditate and listen to the rushing water. As I came out of my contemplation, it occurred to me that climbing up a wet slope of slate had fewer hazards than climbing down the glistening slope. The pool of water tea colored by cedar roots grinned at me, yelling, "Come in. The water is about to freeze. Bring your new iPhone 6 too"! Instead of risking a stumble and tumble by walking tall, I slid on my blue jean arse until the slate leveled and I could safely stand up. Next time, I'm bringing the nylon rope I keep in my car. Although that runs the risk of slipping and inadvertently hanging myself.

I returned to the simple trail between the yard and stream without too much trouble, wishing it were cold and dry or at least cold and snowy. A second day of cold and rainy had begun to irk me. So much for lighting a fire, smoking a cigar and singing kumbaya aloud. My blue jeans clung damply to my arse, requiring a change at the parking lot outhouse, a smelly experience.

I had noticed the discharge from the power plant on the way up to the falls, clean water as far as I could tell, possibly a few degrees warmer than the river. A young man had taken a place by the flow and allowed his bobber and bait to flow downriver in the unnatural current. Fish gather where the water has warmth, and yet, I saw nothing pull down his bobber as he paid out line. He had a good net beside him, suggesting skill as a shoreline fisherman. I watch him pay out and reel in unsuccessfully three times. By the time I was sitting in my car, he was walking back to his Impala with he head down, dejected.

The water had warmth from running over land. Discharge has rarely exceeded ambient water temperature since naturalists cracked down on temperature pollution. And if the locals are hawking the air pollution, the water discharge has a squad of activists with thermometers too. The fisherman wasn't gaining any advantage. A flock of ducks where the river water warmed the bay counted a few Mallards. And then I saw a rufous colored duck and more species I had to promise myself to look up later. I wondered what more strange and wonderful birds awaited my witness in this land of waterfalls and nature.

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