Stable Falls Trail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Directions

Today we take a short hike in the sandy woods with beautiful views of Stable Falls and Lake Superior. Stable Falls is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI. This park is massive. The normal method of exploring this park is starting in a town called Munising. However, I’m not normal so I woke up in Grand Marais, MI. This is a peaceful town with two hotels, a gas station, and a couple of restaurants. We headed North on M-77 which is essentially main street through Grand Marais. There is a sign for the park that directs you left on H-58 (Carlson St.). Take this road for a short distance up a hill heading West. The area is well marked and look for Stable Falls Road on right hand side. Find a place to park and enjoy nature! More information and maps can be found at the National Forest Parks website: NPS Pictured Rocks

The Trail

During the summer I’d imagine this half mile trail to be an easy hike. I hiked this trail the first week of May. Left over ice and snow from the harsh winters still remained scattered about the trail. Occasional jumps onto ice blocks was a bit exhilarating and well worth the risk. The above video was taken at the end of the falls but the trail will continue out towards the lake. The falls itself is fairly long and you wouldn’t want to end up in Stable Creek for sure. Mother nature provides conveniently located wooden stairs, railings and platforms for your safety. How those park engineers managed to build such platforms and stairs is beyond my comprehension! The soil is sandy with lose dirt, with the snow melt water this was perfect conditions to create landslides. Yet the trail was unaffected and in good condition aside from the ice and snow.

IMG_20180507_063138515_HDR

Sunrise at Lake Superior and Stable Creek

Combine stops for pictures, jumping over ice, pulling boots out of snow we made it to the shore in 25 minutes. Just in time to snag this beautiful picture of the sun rising over Lake Superior. It was a peaceful, brisk morning on the lake. Offering my first glance down the shore of Pictured Rocks, making for a memorable experience. The mouth of Stable Creek connecting the falls and lake blends with a beautiful beach, edged with huge sand dunes that tower the entire shore.

Ratings

  • 4/5 Amenities: Many amenities such as bathrooms, trail information and more exist in the parking lot area. I did not come here during tourist season, but it looks as it was built for a higher capacity of people and buses that come through during the summer. This trail lost one point because the trash cans were locked!
  • 5/5 Trail: The trail was perfect. Designed and engineered to give the best vantage points of the falls and lake shore. It’s a straight to the point kind of trail. It isn’t meant for a long challenging hike, rather just a quick view of the falls and shore. If starting the park from Grand Marais, this is a great introduction to Pictured rocks.
  • 0/5 Backpacking: This trail is not designed/intended for backpacking.
  • 5/5 Maps: There is information at the trail head. This is an out and back trial well marked and easily visible. Map for this trail isn’t a necessity.
  • 3/5 Wilderness: While this is in the north woods, civilization is always at the trail head. It is a short hike and you are never far from help and amenities. You can also easily walk to Grand Marais along the shore.
  • 4/5 Enjoyment: I very much enjoyed this trail especially within my time frame. I visited before tourist season and we had the trial to ourselves. The falls were gorgeous and the shoreline was beautiful.

5 Convenient Water Saving Techniques

In developed countries water isn’t much of an issue, it’s something everyone just has. It’s cheap and conveniently transported directly into our homes! Here are 5 tips on how you can conveniently conserve your water usage.

Tip: Keep track of your past water bills, and every dollar you save can be used to reward yourself!

1. Fill up your dishwasher!

Dishwashers use  lots of water. Try waiting until your dishwasher is completely full before running it. This is very convenient since you’ll save time and moey in hassling with dishes!

2. Set a timer when you shower.

If you take long hot showers in the winter, sometimes you just don’t want to get out. It takes only a couple seconds to set a timer on your smart phone. Place your phone just out of reach from the shower so you will have to get out and stop your shower. Start with 15 minutes and work your way down by one minute every week.

3. Paste, Brush, Rinse.

We should brush our teeth twice a day. Common water saving technique is to only run the water when you rinse your toothbrush. This can save on average 3-6 gallons of water per brush by turning it off!

4. Check the weather.

Simple solution is to check the weather daily, besides you need to be prepared for what mother nature brings. Checking the weather allows to turn off automated sprinkler systems, or not do manual watering. If you know rain is coming you don’t need to water your yard! Install a weather application on your phone and enable weather alerts for rain.

5. Drink what you need.

Many of us might fill an entire glass of water up, but dump half of it down the drain. Overtime, this can add up to hundreds of gallons of water per year. Try paying attention during each cup fill. If you find your self dumping some of your water down the drain, next time only fill up 75% or even 50% of the cup with water.

Water & Energy Paradox

In order for us to produce energy, we need to use massive amounts of water. But to use water, we need a great deal of energy to process the water. Let’s take a look at how much water is used to supply power to America.

According to the United States Geological Survey, over 45% of water water-withdrawl-category-pie-2010consumed per day is used to power America. Water is the main component in the ability to cool a thermoelectric power plant. Typically these plants are found along medium to large sized rivers, or lakes. 99% of the water is drawn from surface water. While some of the consumed water can be reused, less than half of the plants use such technology. According to the department of energy 41.9% use recirculating systems. However, on average 3,891 gallons per minute evaporate in such systems. This means the current implementation has a significant loss of water rather than reintroduced in it’s original source.

Unfortunately, to use water requires a great deal of energy. We can identify three areas in which energy is spent in the water process. The first one being the transportation of water. Pumping 17,000ft³ at the height of 330ft requires about 200kWh of electricity. This is a significant amount of energy considering the vast distances that water must be transported in every American municipality. The second area is in water heating. This is typically about 15% of the energy bill in a home. Finally, we need to transport wastewater and treat it. In California it can be between 475-1400kWh of energy to treat 300,000 gallons of water.

In a world of constrained resources, and increase demand we cannot look past this paradox. A great example of this problem is the concern of desalination plants in California. It would cost about 14kWh per 0.3 Million Gallons per day just to convert sea water into drinkable water. After that, the other three areas of energy consumption for the water process mentioned earlier gets applied.

As we can see from this analysis, energy and water complement each other. We cannot have one without another. This calls for close cooperation between water and energy organizations.

 

Sources

Total Water Use. USGS, 9 Dec. 2016, water.usgs.gov/watuse/wuto.html.
Thermoelectric Power Water Use. USGS, 9 Dec. 2016, water.usgs.gov/watuse/wupt.html.
Water Usage in Coal to Power Applications. National Energy Technology Laboratory, www.netl.doe.gov/research/Coal/energy-systems/gasification/gasifipedia/water-usage.
Water and Energy Relationship. Alliance for Water Efficiency, www.home-water-works.org/energy-water.
Seawater Desalination Power Consumption. Water Reuse Association, Nov. 2011, watereuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Power_consumption_white_paper.pdf.

Introduction

Yet another blog appears online. What else could there possibly be to add on the Internet? What does live quality even mean? Who is this nerd in the mass effect jacket? Wait a second, is he outside?

Welcome to my blog. My name is Jacob Charles from Lincoln, Nebraska. I work full-time as a software developer. I’m a part-time  student at the University of  Nebraska, near completion of a bachelors in geography and a minor in computer science. As you can tell from my featured photo, I’m a huge fan of mass effect and exploring the outdoors. But this blog isn’t about  me.

WilsonLake

Wilson Lake, KS

This blog is about the quality of our environment, and why that benefits all of us. That said I’m not an extremist. I am a realist and will look at things from a practical standpoint. Such as building a road around an oak tree is not practical.

Our quality of environment is perspective based. The above image is why I care about our quality. Wilson  Lake is a beautiful oasis in the Great Plains. Along posting about living with quality,  I will occasionally post about my hiking expeditions. The quality of natural lands is important to me. Whereas some individuals may not see it that way, which is perfectly fine. My posts will hopefully be educating and inspiring individuals to live with the quality that they perceive.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, or want to suggest a blog post. I’m excited to start this blog and look forward to hearing other people’s perspectives.