A Wintertime Walk Along Harrington Beach
January 21, 2023 | Topics: Places
Story and photos by Christel Maass
Determined to enjoy one of the first sunny days in a long snowless stretch of early winter, my husband and I headed to Harrington Beach State Park, which hugs the Lake Michigan shore near the northern tip of Ozaukee County.
While trails elsewhere in the park were muddy with temperatures approaching forty degrees, we found ourselves strolling along the wide shoreline, enjoying the sun’s welcome rays and the gently lapping waves. As we stepped carefully past thin shards and sheets of ice, and rivulets of water, we discovered nature’s intricate artwork of textures and designs on the sandy strand and rocky Niagara Escarpment.
Waves and wind piled delicate fragments of ice along the shore (above and below).
Icy sculptures transformed as water trickled underneath (above and below).
Meltwater created sand art (below).
An ephemeral stream emptying into Lake Michigan looked remarkably like an alligator’s back (below).
Ice, water, air bubbles, and a tiny touch of greenery resulted in a sandy mosaic with a floral motif (below).
This “artwork” looked like it had been created by those who walked here generations before (above). It was covered by a thin sheet of ice—like glass in a picture frame—moving, breaking into pieces (below).
It’s a beautiful scene, but the shore this winter day was littered with invasive zebra mussel shells (closeup below). Not a good sign. They do, however, crunch nicely underfoot and make a lovely tinkle when given a kick.
We enjoyed kicking off the new year with this walk on the beach, and since there’s still a long winter ahead, look forward to exploring more of nature’s seasonal works of art—especially on those rare sunny days.
For more information about Harrington Beach, go to our Find-a-Park page.
Christel Maass, a Wisconsin Master Naturalist, loves a good reason to head outdoors in the wintertime.