Sand Stream and Strata

This past winter was rough on the Indiana Dunes. A November storm eroded a lot of the beach area including the dunes which normally stand at least 100 feet from Lake Michigan. The sands were deposited along the shore and along the bottom of the dunes where they continue to be shaped by the wind and rain.

Here along Kintzele Ditch in LaPorte County, the wind and fluctuating water levels carved interesting, horizontal patterns in the sand.

Frozen Ground Water

Ground water dripping from the partially collapsed dune along Kintzele Ditch freezes before it hits the stream on an early Spring morning. Looks like it may finally be possible to hike the length of the stream - the erosion from the winter created a small walking area next to the water.

Falling Shadows

Shadows of bare trees cast elongated shadows down the length of the dune due to the perfect angle of the sun.
West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Spring Sky

White clouds in a deep blue sky give the illusion of ghosts leaves on this bare tree atop a tall sand dune near Mt. Baldy at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Finally Safe to Walk on the Ice

The last bit of shelf ice along the Mt. Baldy area of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It's finally safe to venture onto it. What a difference from this same spot just a couple of weeks before when 15 foot mounds of ice extended hundreds of feet into Lake Michigan.

Vanishing Point

The dunes and the shelf ice converge in the distance on a cold February afternoon. Notice the two people walking on the shelf ice - a very dangerous thing to do since they are walking over Lake Michigan, and most likely over water 10 feet deep. They do give you an idea of the scale of the mounds of ice on the water.


A short walk from Lockport's Dellwood Park, Lock 2 of the Illinois and Michigan Canal remains locked in ice and snow on a late winter afternoon.

Retreating Ice

Winter's grip on St. Joseph, Michigan is beginning to relax, as the warmer days melt some of the shelf ice along the shoreline. The mounds of ice next to and on the pier were over 15 feet tall, almost up t the catwalk.

Most of the lake was still full of flow ice, but the St. Joseph River to the left of the pier was clear enough for a kayaker to explore the area.

Inside the Sugar Shack

This sugar shack was built around the 1920's at the Chellberg Farm to produce maple syrup from the sap of the sugar maple trees on the property. The sap is around 80 percent water, so gallons and gallons of sap needed to be collected and boiled to obtain enough maple syrup for the year.

Maple Sugar Days continues next weekend - during the peak of the sugaring season. Warm days and freezing nights are needed to get the sap flowing, and once the nights no longer get really cold, the sap flow slows down.

Checking the Progress of the Syrup

Boiling Maple sap in large kettles on open fires was the preferred method of producing maple sugar for years. Here, an Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore volunteer checks the progress of the boiling sap. Still thin and colorless means it had a long way to go before it became syrup. Around 80 percent of the liquid must be boiled off of the sap to produce a sweet syrup.

Maple Sugar Time

It's early March and time for gathering sap for maple sugar. At the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the annual Maple Sugar Days allow visitors to see how maple sap was harvested and made into maple syrup by the native people of North America (east of the Mississippi River).

They also show how sap gathering and syrup making technologies changed over the years at different stations along the trail to the sugar shack built in the 1920s.

Visitors get a chance to tap trees and hang buckets on the taps to collect syrup.

Living Sand Dune

Mt. Baldy seen from the beach. You can't really tell from this view, but believe it or not, this dune is over 100 feet tall. It's one of the few "living dunes along Lake Michigan. It's called living because the wind is moving the sand from one side to the other. This dune is moving at the rate of four feet a year, and burying the woods on the other side.

Winter Mountain Range

Not really a mountain range, but mounds of shelf ice along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan. These mounds are formed by the waves splashing onto the shore. They eventually build up to 15 to 20 feet tall, and then begin to extend into the lake hundreds of feet where they take on the look of a distant mountain range.

Up Through the Ice

The St. Joseph, Michigan range lights seen from the frozen shore of Tiscornia Park. The pier is completely obscured by the 15 to 20 foot tall mounds of shelf ice formed by the waves of Lake Michigan.

Winter Lakeshore

Kintzele Ditch flows into Lake Michigan within the confines of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The mouth of the stream often changes location due to wave action, and here in the winter, the shelf ice along the shore is undercut by the stream and continues to flow into Lake Michigan.
This photo was created by stitching 6 images together.