Minnesota’s Natural Beauty Isn’t Set in Stone

We lost a state landmark going into 2020, reminding us to get out and explore while we can
The Tettegouche "Sea Stack" in its picturesque heyday
The Tettegouche “Sea Stack” in its picturesque heyday

Photo by Joe Baumann/Courtesy of Explore MN

It did not seem possible to take Tettegouche State Park’s beauty for granted, but here we are. North Shore travelers flock year-round to cherish its four waterfalls, six lakes, towering cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, and an oft-photographed, tree-topped rock formation—known as the “Sea Stack”—jutting out of the big lake. Or, in the case of the last mentioned, we should say flocked.

Tettegouche State Park's "Sea Stack"—before a late-2019 storm toppled it into Lake Superior
Tettegouche State Park’s “Sea Stack”—before a late-2019 storm toppled it into Lake Superior

Photo by Riley LeBlanc

One such visitor in early 2019 was photographer Riley LeBlanc. It took some luck to document girlfriend Mariah Wentland walking on the ice by the Sea Stack, which is now featured on this issue’s cover. The couple had followed the local news and social media to monitor how much of Lake Superior was frozen over—it eventually was more than 90%—and decided to chance it. “I had seen the Sea Stack from above many times before,” he says. “But seeing it from below on the ice was the most amazing sight I had ever seen on the North Shore.”

And not a moment too soon. Right after Thanksgiving, Mother Nature unceremoniously toppled the thumb-shaped landmark like a Jenga tower into Lake Superior. The stack had stood in that form since the summer of 2010, when a connecting part of what had been previously known as the “Sea Arch” eroded into Minnesota landscape history.

The Tettegouche "Sea Arch," before it became a "stack"
The Tettegouche “Sea Arch,” before it became a “stack”

Courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

For those of us (hand sheepishly raised) who have let a decade pass since our last Tettegouche visit, the Sea Stack’s dissolution is a cautionary reminder. To be apathetic towards Minnesota’s treasures is to flirt with regret. Nothing is permanent.

Fortunately, many life-changing experiences remain, and our “Winter To-Do List” will guide you closer to lots of them. This is an invitation to fearlessly mix Latin and French expressions and proclaim, “Carpe du Nord!” There’s no time like the present season to celebrate the places, people, and traditions of our home state.

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