Our first excursion was an early morning nature hike to the Apostle Islands Sea Caves near Cornucopia. Recall that just two months ago, a few friends and I traveled to the same area to walk along frozen Lake Superior for an Ice Caves adventure. Here is the same view from the bottom of the stairs at Meyers Beach. Eagle Island is at the far left.
Whereas 11,300 people made the slippery trek to see the ice formations that day in March, a slightly smaller group of 20 people walked the trails above in May to see the sandstone from a different perspective.
On the hike along the way, we listened for the calls of various warblers, the distant hammering of a pileated woodpecker and the deep thumping of a ruffed grouse. Although we didn’t see it, male grouse sit on a log and beat their wings up to 50 times during their 10-second drumming display.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of it, but one of the easiest birds to remember by sound is the ovenbird, which chirps “Pizza, pizza, pizza.” Others remember the loud call by “Teacher, teacher, teacher.”
I also spotted a ruby-throated hummingbird flitting behind our group. I believe the other bird perching in a tree is a type of flycatcher. Since I don’t have a very powerful zoom on my camera, I would guess these cropped images were taken from about 20 feet away.
Peggy Burkman helped us identify the plants, flowers, trees and birds that we saw. And when we needed to cross running water, she determined which logs and rocks were sturdy enough to step on.
At our pace, it took us almost two hours to reach the first overlook 2 miles in.
Although it would have been nice to continue on the Lakeshore Trail to see more of the caves, we needed to turn back to get to our next destination.
Here is what the same area of the caves looked like from above in May…
… compared to below in March.
Even though the caves were really neat to see again, it was nice to be in a smaller group and walking when it was warmer. As stunning as the different colors of ice were, so were the shades of green this spring.
And we definitely enjoyed the rolling hills and budding trees on the winding drive on Hwy. C back to the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center before we departed for Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome.
Day 3: Stockton Island