snowmobile tracks in snow under a bright sun

Be Brief: Tracks

Michigan Tech sits on the edge of the Keweenaw Waterway, which marks the passage of time through the year.

Sunlight returns to the Northwoods — and feet of snow still cover the ground.

The Keweenaw Waterway’s surface is an annual sun dial; the tracks on its surface mark the time of year. Snowmobile tracks eventually give way to cracking ice. Slowly, the melt creeps in until the water is riffled by a strong breeze. Eventually, the green growth, which even flourishes beneath the surface, is dotted by falling leaves, until slowly the ice encroaches again.

In March, the Copper Country sun skims at 47 degrees above the horizon at noon, rising to 70 degrees by summer solstice, and plunges to 23 degrees in the depths of winter.

The cycle of the sun and its changing angles greatly affect life at the 47th north parallel. From cleaner, quieter, all-weather snowmobiles — to solar panel generation and snow loads, to maple syruping and Great Lakes modeling, to the chemicals reflecting back fall colors — the sun’s mark on the Keweenaw Peninsula is unmistakable.

360 view of the Keweenaw Waterway and lift bridge

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.