It is a strangely off-worldly experience to step out from the stamp mill ruins and onto the barren landscape of the sands. Gazing out across its desolate expanse stretching towards the horizon, you can’t help but feel as if you are standing on another planet. In the far distance we can make out a blue sliver of Superior, but the stark gray of the sands encompass our vision. The sands roll like waves across the landscape, sculpted by the wind and water of generations. Short dunes line the horizon, and along the lake steep cliffs drop off into the water. And across it all, not a single tree, or bush, or even weed grows. Completely barren.
Unlike their Torch Lake brethren, these sands were never treated with a chemical leaching process and are relatively harmless. However, their impact is far from benign. Over the last century these sands have migrated from here, moving southward at about 200 feet a year. Now, those sands cover five miles of Superior shoreline, obliterating the existing beaches in the process. So far, the only thing saving the remaining white beaches further south from extinction is the break wall at the Traverse River mouth.
Even knowing this, it is hard not to look across the sands and not be in awe of the sight. There is an odd beauty in this barren moonscape that can’t quite be defined. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition between man and nature, and the comment it makes about the nature of the copper country. Beneath the natural wonders that surround you here, there lies an dark truth hidden in the shadows. It’s the heavy hand of man, and the scars and open wounds it left upon the land are still here. Wounds that will never be completely washed away or forgotten.