The Artwork of

William Lathrop

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Artist in Residence - 2005
Entry Date: 09/29/2005 - Thursday

The powerful gale continued throughout the evening and into the night. By morning I thought it might be blown out - but strong winds continued to pummel the shore. There were nice clouds on my beach this morning - combined with the big waves - a dramatic effect.

I began driving west through the park, intending to stop at Kingston Lake and finish one of the two paintings I had started there. But this morning's mixed clouds created conditions different than either my sunny morning or cloudy morning painting - go figure. So I drove on, hoping to return another morning.

I drove through these back roads slowly; I have become attached to the much-varied landscape. At first the managed forest seemed stark and uninviting, but over the course of the week I found more of it to appreciate - more variety than the thickly wooded landscape. My intention was to take the alternate back roads to Munising - the ones deeper into the state forest by the campgrounds and small lakes. These roads have more variety and with the light from my back, I thought I might find some decent photos. I did find a few colorful trees this morning and hopefully shot some good images.

The storm left its mark on the landscape. Branches, large and small, littered the road. At first I stopped to clear the larger ones, whether they blocked my path or not. But it eventually became clear that if I continued moving branches it would take forever to get where I was going, so I abandoned the effort - only stopping for those that completely blocked my way. While the road surface was generally decent after all the rain, there were some low spots with pooled water - I had to race through those to make sure I didn't get stuck or flood.

I turned down a road I had traveled earlier, Ross Lake Road. These roads are generally smoother than H58 - the main road through the park. Again, I ran into some pooled water - one quite deep and the next quite long - and I had no idea how deep. Fortunately another car approached, a bear hunter in a jeep out with his dogs. I let him drive through first to see how deep it was. He went through slowly, water about 1/3 the way up his wheels. He stopped and we talked. He told me there was another water hazard up the way - bigger or deeper or both. He said I could make it. But this was not a good place to be stranded so I turned around and returned to more heavily traveled roads.

Interesting vehicle this bear hunter had, it seemed customized to fit his task. The dogs were in the back - heads sticking out through holes. There was some sort of antenna on the roof, with a handle coming through to the inside (like you would see for a spotlight) - what's that all about.

Returning to H58, I drove clear through to Sand Point and park headquarters. Time to trade keys. My new digs are nicer than the cabin. Designed for multiple occupants. A law enforcement ranger was being transferred to Grand Marais and was moving out just as I moved in - though we didn't cross paths. After a brief unloading, I headed out to Miners Beach - I checked out the west end but it was already too late in the day for good sun on the rocks - so I headed to the east side hoping for better light. This is where I worked; painting a composition similar to one I did last week - looking at the rock outcropping getting pounded by the huge waves. I took a different vantage than last week, down on the beach rather than from the higher point on the beach bluff. The sun alternated with clouds and the constantly changing light was somewhat difficult. I focused my attention on the waves, trying to capture their intensity.

After painting I headed out to the Bear Trap for lunch - a hot beef sandwich and fries with gravy - pretty good.

I returned to Miners Beach to hike up the bluff, east toward the Mosquito River. The trail climbed rapidly. Near the top was a small, unmarked waterfall spilling over the rocks - much like Chapel Falls. I went further along the trail, which more or less followed the edge of the rock cliffs. Below I could hear the thunderous thuds of water crashing into the base of the cliffs, followed by the spray splashing back out. Thud - hiss, thud - hiss. Further along I could peak out at the edge and catch views of the cliffs. For the first time I felt like I was a part of the Pictured Rocks themselves.

The woods looked ripped up, and I remembered the previous evening's storm. Maple leaves, still green, littered the ground. Many of the ferns covering the forest floor were broken in half, almost like someone had taken a weed whacker to them.

I came to an overlook, a slightly sloping sand ledge - with interesting views on the cliff face that included a spire and big chunk of rock in the water. I took several pictures and returned to the trail. It was here I noticed larger and more disruptive tracks in the trail, not deer, but rather with claws - these were clearly bear tracks. Far to large for a dog, and they must have been quite fresh - as the evening's rain would have left a blank slate. With only my walking stick for defense, I decided to retreat and call it a day - what a wimp I am.

I returned to Sand Point where I did some moving in. I visited the laundromat in Munising and bought some fresh groceries. It has been a long day. Painting on the beach during the afternoon tired me out. It was quite cold, hard to maneuver my fingers and I had a runny nose. It will be good sleeping tonight.


All Materials Copyright © William Lathrop, 2007
Last Modified on June 05, 2007