Into the Great Lakes Diary - August 4th to 18th 2018
Water treatment, Survival Skills, and self-sufficiency in full immersion by Lake Superior, United States of America, Marquette, Michigan. Voir descriptif détaillé
A group of 10 teenagers and adults, are living as a community for 14 days in the United States of America.This camp takes place in the Marquette, Michigan (Upper Peninsula).
They study water quality of Lake Superior, and rise up their Survival Skills, through Hands-on experiments.
The interactions in that camp occur in English.
So much fun !!!
- Final Projects Restitution
- DAY 1 - Saturday August 4th 2018
- DAY 2 - Sunday August 5th 2018
- DAY 3 - Monday August 6th 2018
- DAY 4 - Tuesday August 7th 2018
- DAY 5 - Wednesday August 8th 2018
- DAY 6 - Thursday August 9th 2018
- DAY 7 - Friday August 10th 2018
- DAY 8 - Saturday August 11th 2018
- DAY 9 - Sunday August 12th 2018
- DAY 10 - Monday August 13th 2018
- DAY 11 - Tuesday August 14th 2018
- DAY 12 - Wednesday August 15th 2018
- DAY 13 - Thursday August 16th 2018
- DAY 14 - Friday August 17th 2018
- DAY 15 - Saturday August 18th 2018
All the participants arrived at the airport of Chicago O’Hare from 12:00 to 19:30. After meeting in the airport we had a small snack and started our trip to the first camp site. It took us 1 hour to get there. As soon as we arrived we had short instructions how to set up a tent. After everyone set up their tents, we all went to sleep.
Everyone got up earlier than we expected. After having a breakfast, we had a forum about what we are going to do on this trip, and about our plans for making the rules. After that, we packed our tents and started our journey to « Shedd Aquarium ».
It was huge and contained many areas like “Amazon Rising” or “Rivers”, and the most important for us, “At Home on the Great Lakes”. Thanks to this exhibition, we learned that 3,500 animals and plants are depending of the lake. This population is not only native but also imported by humans. 3% of world water is fresh ; it’s a real problem because it is exposed to pollution created by humans. 20 % of this 3 % part, is water from the Great Lakes. We visited the Great Lakes exhibition, but we also discovered arctic zone with penguins, or giants coral reef. Towards the end, we saw a water animals show, where there were animals like see lions, penguins, dolphins and belugas. After the show we left the aquarium and set off to our next camp site, which was located 3 hours ride from Chicago.
We were embaresed by how gigantic Chicago is, also we were surprised by the aquarium. It was so big and rich for information and beautiful vibes.
As soon as we got the camp site, we had a dinner and went sleep.
This morning we woke up to similarly damp day having rained all night. Our morals were then improved by a warm breakfast. We were still only a third of the way through our long journey to Marquette but first it was important to establish our rules sitting together as if in a community. The key rules turned out to be the respect of others and most importantly not eating bugs !
Just before setting out we took a stroll on the beach of Lake Michigan. We ran into a scientist called John Cabrielse from Cardinal Environment Inc, testing the water quality of Lake Michigan in Kohlen-Andrae State Park. He is taking samples and mesurements three times a week to make sure the public can safely swin in those water. He used a thermometer and a tube (1 meter x 5 centimeters) to evaluate the turbidtude of the water. Then he took a sample which would be sent to a laboratory to test for E-coli levels. This would determine if the beach was safe for the health of the public but also most importantly the lake’s ecosystem. E-coli is a common and not necessarily harmful to humans. It is a good indicator to show scientists like john if there are more dangerous bacteria in the water. A green sign indicates a healthy and clean beach deemed safe. John also explained the problems with invasive species and through this the lack of plankton to feed wildlife.
This was followed by a long (and boring) car journey across the state border of Wisconsin and Michigan. Once arrived at the camping site we immediately swam in a freezing Lake Superior, coming back to a fire lit by a new team and a hot dinner of tacos.
We’re finally getting accustomed to sleeping in tents in the cold weather and everyone manages to live at their own rhythm while simultaneously following the schedule. We finally got at the Marquette Filtration Plant by ten.
There, we met Jim who led us on a tour of the plant, showing us how it works. He explained that the water comes from a pipe located at a depth of 18 m and extends 950 m away from the shore. The water is pumped and crosses different screens : the second screen is called the “travelling screen” and it filters out fish. Then, the water is pumped upwards thanks to a raw water pump working with pressure. At this point, the water is filtered by a 500 microns diameter screen to remove smaller materials like sand. It finally crosses a last filter composed of 0,2 microns diameter tubes to get rid of bacteria sized particles. Afterwards, the dirty parts of water, called backwash, goes back to the lake as it hasn’t been treated yet. At the same time, the clean water is disinfected with a solution of chlorine made of salt (NaCl) of which it is stripped of hydrogen to make chlorine by the process named hydrolyse. Once the water is clear, it is stocked into a reservoir and then distributed to the citizens of Marquette. To make sure water won’t contaminate the city, three points are tested such as E. Coli bacteria, turbidity and pH, which is supposed to be at 8.50 to 8.80. The lake’s natural pH level is 7.50. This water filtration plant allows the whole 33 000 citizens of Marquette to have access to clean water. It produces 3 000 000 gallons per day even though the highest production possible is at 8 000 000 gallons a day.
Later in the day, we went on a hike on the Sugarloaf Mountain which is more a hill than a mountain because we climbed it in less than 15 minutes. Nevertheless, being on the top allowed us to see a cloud which left after a while and let us see the city of Marquette and a small part of Lake Superior. After spending an hour and a half up there, we went to the supermarket and bought super healthy food such as cookies, Twinkies, Gatorade, Powerade, Skittles… before eating pizza tonight ? Over the fire pit ???
Today, after breakfast we went to the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust. It’s an organization that protects and works for the Great Lakes. Their mission is to improve the natural resources of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the watershed oasis. We saw a presentation from the scientists, Abby and Emily, in this organization. They told us about big projects their company has done like : collecting and recycling electronic waste, keeping the beaches clean, and protecting Monarch butterflies. Also, we learned a lot of new information about Lake Superior like, Superior is bigger than the Netherlands and Belgium. After that, we had one hour of chilling on the beach. During lunch, Rémy, David, Phill and Benjamin played the chilli game (we put different types of hot sauces on a tortilla and we saw which spices we could handle).
After lunch, we met the team that is working to protect Monarch butterflies. We helped them pull weeds that were getting in the way of milkweed, the only weed that Monarch butterflies can eat. As soon as we finished our “work” we headed back to the camp, quickly changed and went to the beach. There, we spent three hours swimming, sunbathing, making fires with a magnifying glass, and burying David, Ben, Phill, and Pierre in the sand. Additionally, we celebrated Pauline’s 16th birthday and ate a cookie cake. Finally, we went back to the camp and prepared stir fry for dinner.
Once again, we woke up and had breakfast, but this time we packed up and headed to Top of the World to go camping in the wild.
We left our campsite around 10 o’clock to explore the village of Marquette. Downtown Marquette is a quiet and tranquil place to reside : the typical stereotype of a small American town. Two roads bisect containing the main shops with a beautiful view of Lake Superior. This excursion consisted of free time and a long walk on the Washington Street, popping in and out of various shops as we went. While some targeted food and souvenirs, others had a more abstract objective : buying a fishing rod and its accessories.
Next, we drove to Northern Michigan University to visit the library in which we will present our projects.
After having lunch on campus, we made our way to Harlow Lake to go fishing with the new fishing rod. Some people were more skilled than others. We caught numerous fish, killing two and losing them somewhere in the van. We are still waiting for the rank smell to start.
For once, the drive to the campsite was minutes away, so we were able to immediately set up camp. After many active activities including chopping trees, a session of karate, and burning holes in shoes, everyone settled down for a calm evening with a beautiful sunset. We all decided to sleep outside in our sleeping bags and it quickly escalated into a mound of people.
We spent that great night at “Top of the World” under the stars. The sun and mosquitoes woke us up, followed by a quick breakfast in order to leave at 9:30 to head to Hancock, Michigan.
We got to the Quincy Mine just in time for the tour. After getting large heavy vests and a construction hardhat, we took a wagon down to the entrance of the mine. The temperature dropped very quickly as our tour guide drove us deeper into the ground. He was very convincing in telling us about the mine history. While showing us how the different tools worked and taking us through the evolution of technological innovations, he included scientific facts about the formation of the mine. The cracked, smooth rocks were formed by different types of lava flows cooling and layering on top of each other. This caused the rocks to intersect at 54° angles. This geological formation occurs a great number of times along the walls of the mine. When he turned off the lights (leaving only 2 candles), we could truly imagine how hard the mining conditions were at the time the mine was still in use, from 1830 to 1945. The long shifts, temperature drops, hazardous conditions, deafening sound of drills, and weight of the rocks caused one third of the miners to die or be critically injured. However, since the production costs were higher than the money made of the copper, basalt and rare silver ; the mine closed down. After a quick look around the small museum, we finally got on our way.
By the time we went to the supermarket to restock on food, it was already 3PM. We drove down to the campsite, ate a quick lunch and got started on our projects. We brainstormed for our problematics. After working hard, some went fishing while others started cooking and we typed up today’s diary. The evening ended on a nice meal and everyone going to sleep early at the end of a long and tiring day.
Today, we spent first part of the day working on our projects. We were working in two teams ; team one (David, Phileas, Cécile) was working on the survival skills project and team two (Pierre, Alice, Pauline, Benjamin and Sasha) was working on a project about the quality of the water in the Great Lakes. Around 5 P.M., we finished our brain work and started preparing for dinner at Maddie’s aunt cottage which is located on a lake called Twin Lakes.
As soon as our gang arrived to the lake house, we saw the magnificent and relaxing view of lake and forest. The first thing we did was kayaking. We made an hour-long voyage in kayaks and took many chilling pauses. Phil and Benjamin fell in the water from their kayak more than 10 times… that was very comical. After kayaking, we had a real American dinner – hot dogs, pasta salad, baked beans, chili dogs and corn. After food we played lake golf. In this game you need to hit the raft, which is twenty metres from the beach, with a golf ball. No one except Maddie hit the raft. Then we went water skiing ! Maddie was first to try, and she was too good for the first time. Then David was next, he did it on the second try, but it was a short ride. Then Phil wanted to try. He failed all 4 of his rides. The best result was showed by Pierre. He had only one ride, but long and perfect. As soon as we finished our skiing, we took the group photo and left comments and greetings in our host’s guest book.
When we got back to the camp site, Rémy and Benjamin went to watch the meteor shower. They told us later that it was an absolutely unbelievable show.
Waking up and having breakfast obviously becomes a morning ritual but this morning… oh no wait, nothing special, other than a calm and relaxed breakfast after an equally eventless night. Now for packing or should I say stuffing our bags, because it’s that time in camp where you simply can’t be arsed. All of your belongings just find themselves hanging on the outside of your empty bag.
Don’t you worry the show is on the road, our projects picking up pace. One of the presentations concentrated on everything other than what we asked ourselves about in the problematic. The other, concentrated on dealing with the harsh elements in the urban wilderness of Marquette Michigan. This feat has proved increasingly difficult due to the new invasive species that has immersed itself into the whole of the USA. Surviving against this monster and its tools requires the weapon of self-control, and an ardent desire to not become obese. It is essential to resist its tools of temptation, as they try to fatten you up ready for harvest. The ‘HUMAN’ and its vast number of supermarkets is the ultimate and greatest danger of this foreign and alien land. Although not mentioned in the survival skills project, I am warning all of those that plan to come abroad to be ready in heart and in mind to face this mighty foe.
Similarly, other invasives were included in our Great Lakes projects such as the blood sucking “sea lamprey”, “zebra mussels” and “asian carp”. Solutions to regulating their vast numbers have equally been explored, and I have also suggested many, but none were deemed adequate or “remotely appropriate”.
Our luncheon as said by the British, fell just short of exciting other than the occasional “Chill Bro”. A phrase that seems to constantly linger in the air around our camp in anticipation of an upcoming attack. WTF I’m busy I thought we had a truce during diary writing. Sorry, getting back on topic, the road to our next wild campsite seemed to lead us into a war zone. No offense Maddy, but it would seem that either you were avoiding incoming artillery strikes, or you had Italian ancestry with the way the van was shaking on the dirt road to Paradise (both literally and the name of the campsite).
After a short walk into the forest, we set our tents and ran into the fresh water of Lake Superior. Although cold, we managed to go to the Caves, surrounded by Red Bull© powered horseflies.
To stay on the Water Filtration’s topic or because we were thirsty, Rémy and Maddy showed us many ways to convert the lake’s water into a drinkable and “clear” beverage. Firstly, you need to determine where is the water coming from. To make sure it’s not bad for you, doing a pH, nitrate and nitrite test can be essential. Other tests to detect lead and pesticides, the bacteria’s growth can be realized using samples of the water. Today’s results were a basic water (pH : 8,5), without any chlorine, nitrate and nitrite. This means that the water didn’t contain bad chemicals or bacteria like e-coli.
Testing the water is great but drinking it is better. We used different of filters such as a “LifeStraw” or a bottle, that use filters. We also tried pumps but weren’t convinced by the bitter taste they left.
The safest way to purify water is to use pills. Before dropping two pills in 1L of water, it’s essential to remove impurities, sand and sometimes tiny fishes using coffee filter, socks, bandanas or a t-shirt. Then wait 5 min, shake and wait another 30 minutes. Squeeze the bottle and rinse the lid to disinfect. However, to avoid the yellow colour and the taste add two different pills, wait 3 min and finally … drink.
The day ended on a wonderful sunset, tacos and scary stories around the campfire, eating marshmallows.
P.S. MOMMY I WANT TO COME HOME
Despite an eventful night, almost everyone slept well in their own tent. We had a slow morning followed by a lengthy but necessary forum that we all attended before packing up and heading to the hike. The car ride was quite long, but we finally arrived by about 13 pm.
We started what we knew would be a simple hike. The path was already defined, a simple loop of about 16km. We stopped at a quarter along the way on a beach to eat. The weather was hot and humid, and we had to filter water numerous times so as to not run out. A short stop at another beach allowed us to breathe and go for short swim in the water. Some of us went looking for agates while others played with a log in the water. However, the flies prevented us from staying any longer. We quickly filtered water into our water bottles, put the iodine tablets in and put our clothes back on. We continued the hike, stopping at Pictured Rocks to observe the geological formation. We could determine which minerals were present thanks to the color of the rock. Orange for iron, blue for copper, white for limonite and black for manganese. The landscape was incredible and the water clear. One could’ve easily mistaken such a landscape for an exotic island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
When we reached a particular tree atop an eroded rock almost floating in the air, we knew the hike was close to being over. Our counselors announced that there were only 5km left. After a while, we began wondering how close we really were. When we finally thought we’d reached the end, we were back at the tree ! We took the wrong path…we got turned around near the waterfall because a sign had been moved, and ended up doing 5 more kilometers, while pretty much complaining the whole way. Thankfully, we had tortilla chips and a bit of water left which allowed us to make it through. Once we arrived at the van, everybody felt relieved. We were all smiling, thinking about what we had accomplished together. Being in the forest with the group made everything more bearable and we still managed to have a lot of fun. We went to the Wendy’s drive-thru to get burgers as a compensation and headed back to the camping to get a good night’s sleep after an exhausting day full of turn of events.
Not much to say today, everybody spent all day working on the projects. We present tomorrow afternoon at the library of Marquette, Michigan University, and invited every person we interact with to come over.
Quite a bit of work again this morning so we would be ready for this afternoon official presentation of our projects. We booked a room at the city library, and even if not many people showed up, it was impressive to present. It’s a good rehearsal for the UN presentation in Geneva next december. We are proud of the work we did on those projects. Preparing this kind of work out of a moving campsite, with rare electricity, is tricky but we did it. You can watch our presentations down below.
We ended the day by some free time, and delicious Ice Cream in Marquette.
Not much to say for today, we pretty much spend all day driving down from Marquette to Chicago our last spot. It feels weird to leave Marquette where we spent the last 10 days and had amazing adventures we did not expect. But it’s the way it goes, and we will all keep it in mind, as part of us.
Today we all went for a day walk through Chicago downtown. What a big American city to discover ! We walked 10 kilometers and the weather was ideal !
Maddie and Rémy reserved us a big surprise at night : we went to see a Baseball game in Chicago !! Chicago White Sox won 9-3. It also was an Elvis Presley night, with made it even more American. What a day !!! Enjoy the pictures !
Last night for everybody, tomorrow we all split up...
It’s sad in a way, but deep down, we are all very happy this 2 weeks happened (participants and counselors). We had a nice family all together ; ))
That’s it, everybody left Chicago, on time and safe.
We all had a great camp, learnt a lot about the Great Lakes, basic Survival Skills, experienced the wild, and living as a community.
We all had great times and shared unforgettable moments.
We all wished, it would last longer...
See you on the next camp