"Riverway Summer"

August 14, 2013 Posted by: Park Ranger Dale Cox

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost.” – Henry Rollins

An image of the backwaters of the St. Croix near the Apple River confluence in mid-July 2013, an area which is typically dry by that time of the season. NPS photo

I have heard several people at the park recently mention how short the summer has seemed this year. While subjective, I understand what they are saying: it has seemed the same to me as well. And yet I think we use a different definition of “summer” at the Riverway, and clarification is needed.

 Technically, there are three different classifications of the Earth’s seasons: Astronomical: Meteorological; and Solar. Astronomical Summer is the most commonly known, occurring on or around June 20, signaling when the Sun reaches its most northern point in respect to the Earth's surface at 23.5 degrees North. This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet, and from there the days begin to get shorter.

However, meteorologists and climatologists use a different date for the start of summer: June 1. Referred to as Meteorological Summer, this definition uses the annual temperature cycle as well as our calendar to determine the warmest months of the year as summer. In our case, the months of June, July and August.

Finally there is Solar Summer, which is based on the three calendar months the Northern Hemisphere receives the greatest amount of sunlight. In this classification May 1 was the first day of “summer” here...

 Ignoring the differences between these three, at the Riverway I think we base “summer” more on the length of time recreation can take place on the rivers. In 2012 temperatures began warming in March, with ice free water in April allowing people to boat, fish and camp far earlier than normal. This year, summer was left in the starting gate by late wet snows in April (and May!) and high water which tarried into mid-July.

 I, for one, am hoping that the “Riverway Summer” lingers on for a few more months...

3 Comments Comments icon

  1. June 24, 2014 at 07:09

    I saved this photo - I think it's awesome. I'd like to be in it though. I have the map of this section of the river. Can you give me any more specifics as to its location? I imagine with the river so high - there might be an opportunity for me to actually try to kayak through. I know the Namekogan well but not this section. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. August 20, 2013 at 12:29

    Bridget - The image above was taken on the St. Croix River in the floodplain forest south of Somerset Landing (river mile S35.7) and north of the Soo Line High Bridge (river mile S29.5). This is an area which will flood when the river is running high from snow-melt in spring. This summer, ongoing rainfall allowed it to be accessed by kayak into mid-July (when this photo was taken). However, as low as water levels are today, traveling through here now would be more like "hiking with a kayak" than paddling!

  3. August 16, 2013 at 11:28

    Where is this photo taken? What section of the river? Thank you.

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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