Following our trail
From Lake Superior to the Mediterranean Sea
by Jim Joque / Walking Capers
Growing up in Upper Michigan and living half my life in Wisconsin, I’ve had many opportunities to visit scenic Lake Superior. From the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Grand Marais, Michigan, to the east, to the rock outcroppings along the North Shore near Grand Marais, Minnesota, to the west. I have marveled at the beauty and power of this magnificent body of water, the largest of the Great Lakes, called Gichigami by the Ojibwa.
Bordered by the U.S. and Canada – 350 miles long, 160 miles wide and with 1,826 miles of shoreline – Lake Superior has an average depth of 483 feet (and a maximum depth of 1,332 feet), according to the Minnesota Sea Grant. Given that it is a clear and cold lake with average underwater visibility of 27 feet and water temps of about 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, Superior is considered the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.
One such visit to Superior was a week-long trip my wife Liz and I made along the North Shore a few years ago. We delighted in the scenic vistas along State Highway 61 from Duluth to Grand Marais, walking segments of the Superior Hiking Trail and camping at Minnesota state campgrounds near the shore. Some of the bluffs along the way provided excellent views of the great lake, and walks along the rocky lakeshore offered hours of enjoyable exploration.
On another vacation, we spent a week in a cabin on Lake Superior near Bayfield, Wisconsin. We enjoyed the Apostle Islands in all its grandeur, including a visit to Raspberry Island’s historic lighthouse, hiking and camping on Madeline Island and taking in a music performance at the popular Big Top Chautauqua.
One recent summer, Liz and I visited another humongous body of water located nearly half way around the world. Our destination on that vacation included small villages and trails along the southern and northern coasts of Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea and Ligurian Sea, both feeding into the Mediterranean Sea.
By contrast, the Mediterranean Sea is an enormously large saltwater body off the Atlantic Ocean in the west where it connects at the Straits of Gibraltar. This intercontinental sea is bordered by Europe on the north, Asia on the east and Africa on the south. The Mediterranean has a rich history of ancient civilizations that lived along its coast. The Mediterranean is roughly 2,400 miles long and has a maximum width of 1,000 miles. The average depth is about 500 feet. Maximum depth reports vary, ranging from 14,450 to 17,280 feet.
Making some comparisons helped me to realize that our gigantic seas and lakes are not only a magnificent wonder of nature with spectacular coastal bluffs and scenic land masses, but also treasures we should always appreciate, enjoy, respect and protect.
The entirety of Jim Joque’s ruminations on the similarity of the coastlines of Michigan’s U.P. and Italy appears in the the November 2015 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888-706-4045. Or subscribe online here and avoid missing another issue.