Sunday, July 18, 2010

Seven Mile Smiles

This photo of the beach at Seven Mile Point on Lake Superior was taken on Saturday, July 10, 2010. In 2001 the North Woods Conservancy (NWC) purchased this ecologically sensitive parcel, located on the north shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Allouez Township, for protection and limited public access. It contains 32 acres and 1,506 feet of Lake Superior shoreline, including sand, cobble and 1.1 billion year-old bedrock beach. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory calls Seven Mile Point one of the gems of the Keweenaw. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

By Sandy Britton

Guest writer Sandy Britton of Mohawk, spends each weekend from May 15 to October 15 as Seven Mile Point host. She has written a series of journal entries with her observations of this special place. Keweenaw Now hopes to publish several of these articles. This is the first in the series. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

SEVEN MILE POINT -- Saturday, July 10, was a picture-perfect summer day -- bright, breezy, with warm water in the bay thanks to two days of light north winds bringing in warm surface water -- until 8:15 p.m. The wind changed, it warmed up and got muggy and the ankle biters went wild! Sunday was showery, with gusty wind and rumbles of thunder. As my Dad used to say, "After the Lord Mayor's carriage comes the garbage cart!" By the way, I'd like to offer a quick tip-o'-the-hat to those friends who help make these offerings possible by sharing their knowledge of computers and plants.

View of the rocky outcrop from the sandy beach at Seven Mile Point, a favorite spot for agate hunters. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

We have one new bloomer, species #48, pearly everlasting; and, while St. John's wort, daisies and yarrow dominate, there are 19 others still delighting the pollinators.

Speaking of blooming, the dreaded spotted knapweed is starting to bloom, and I think everyone is going to be appalled at how much territory it has taken over. It is spread by wind, water and vehicles. Pulling it up with the root and burning it is one way to control it, but take precautions by wearing gloves and long sleeves if you have sensitive skin. If you need more info on what this stuff is and how to deal with it, feel free to e-mail me at

I love the way Mother constantly changes the decor of my "office" -- from spring's sparse and lacy green to summer's lush foliage and flower show to the blazing splendor of autumn. The background music of waves coming ashore, wind in the trees and the furred and flying life -- even the lighting -- change with the seasons and often from moment to moment.

A furry visitor to Seven Mile Point scrounges for snacks. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

Who could ask for more? The breathtaking variety and vibrancy of life here runs the gamut from tiny moths less than 1/4" long to black bears while our winged life ranges from chickadees through golden and bald eagles to sandhill cranes and blue herons. I stand in awe of the way each of these wildly varying creatures plays its own distinct role in the great circle of life.

Wildflowers emerge from the bedrock in July at Seven Mile Point. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Speaking of eagle and bear, they both made their presence known Saturday [July 10]. As I was editing the day's crop of photos a flash of something big through the trees proved to be a nearly mature bald eagle on a scouting mission, who landed in the top of the tallest white pine near the road, staying long enough for a picture. His head was all white; but black feathers in his tail, salt-and-pepper underside and ragged wing feathers all show he's still putting on his grown-up clothes. He thrilled several of our guests, who saw him as he made three more passes over, clearly on a mission from point A to point B, from SW to NE.

Bald eagle, center, visits Seven Mile Point. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

One of our guests said there was a bad odor over by the agate beach, which would seem to indicate he'd found something tasty and was taking some home to the family.

Thank you, Brother, for making many peoples' day perfect!

An old four-foot tall tree stump by the road with the front half literally ripped off in chunks bears mute testimony to the determination, power and persistence of a hungry bear, while the number and size of the tunnels and worm tracks in the exposed hardwood say he won a tasty meal for his efforts.

A hungry bear left its mark on this tree stump. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Sandy Britton)

Other treats included the unmistakable sounds of a pileated woodpecker at work, an airshow by gulls and crows after flying insects, the arrival on my windshield of one of those tiny, 1/2" long green caterpillars that float vertically thru the air hanging from an invisible, spider-web-like thread and, maybe best of all, grazing on ripe blueberries and sugar plums. Until next time, live in a good way and be safe!

Editor's Notes: Seven Mile Point is open from noon to sunset on Saturdays and Sundays from May 15 to Oct. 15. To visit NWC Seven Mile Point, follow Five Mile Point Road (7.0 miles from Ahmeek, 4.8 miles from Eagle River) and turn west on Sunset Bay Road. After 0.8 miles (at the entrance to Sunset Bay Campground), turn left on Seven Mile Point (SMP) Road and proceed 1.2 miles to the NWC gate.The parking area is located about 300 yards beyond the gate. Please be aware that both Sunset Bay Road and SMP Road are private roads. Please drive to SMP only during open hours. Please drive slowly, and be especially cautious around and courteous to the 22 lot owners who have granted the NWC permission to use this road.

Read a
2001 article on the archived to learn how Seven Mile Point was purchased. Visit the North Woods Conservancy Web site to learn more about their work.

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