Snorkeling for Lunch

Do you remember back in June when Tony and I went out in search of a future dive site? Today during lunch we went back there – the Petobego Natural Area- armed with our snorkel gear and camera. We originally learned about it from a couple of guys we met at a dive site in Northport, who described the area as having some interesting underwater sawdust-plus-sand formations.

Back in the lumbering days, there was a sawmill located on the water near Angell Road south of Elk Rapids. As a result, the sandbars that surround the current Petobego Pond are full of sawdust. As we walked along the shore, this odd mixture of sand and dust barked (very similar to the sound of H2 + O2 –> H2O in a test tube, which I know is very specific, but IΒ didΒ  teach high school science) with every step. I couldn’t help but barking my way along like I do on gym floors in squeaky shoes πŸ™‚
Looks like sand, “pops” like burning hydrogen


We left our belongings at the edge of the water and then ventured in. We stayed within the pond since the nearby bay was rather choppy. Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the site for snorkeling/free diving. There just wasn’t much to see, although there were tons of tiny fish schooling around us. (Presumably we’d have better luck if we swam to the drop out on the bay…maybe next time.) The bottom was very soft (probably the whole ground wood meets ground stone thing), which I found a bit unnerving. Also, it kicked up into the water easily, reducing visibility.

Despite the flash accidentally being on without my noticing 😦 I still like the left-hand snap because the surface of the water from below looks neat – plus that sun-dappled bottom πŸ™‚

But, right before we decided to hop out of the water, I spotted something I’ve never seen up here:

I’m pretty sure it’s a gar. When you’re submerged in water, you can’t exactly shout for your swim buddy. Instead, I excitedly waved my arms around in his general direction until he noticed. Unlike most fish that immediately dart away when they detect your presence, this guy languidly swam around for awhile before finally and slowly swimming away.

Note: In my attempts to verify what the guys in Northport told us, I came across some info suggesting that this place is a favorite for kiteboarders. You can get here by boat, or by walking along the shore…on private property. If you plan to visit this site via a hike in, stick to the water’s edge.

6 thoughts on “Snorkeling for Lunch

    • I suppose I let my disappointment shine through a bit too much. I *was* disappointed, because I had higher expectations, but I *did* get to see a gar, and we *did* get to go snorkeling during lunch. Hard to complain too seriously πŸ™‚

    • If you check my blog from June 30 (, all the photos of the shoreline are in the Maple Bay Conservancy along the way to Petobego Pond. The ones of my husband in shallow water are at the divide between the pond and East Bay, and the ones with me show the pond to the right. I have a couple more that I haven’t shared, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for in the above blog, let me know and I might be able to hook you up. Also, we’ve visited there several times, so I might be able to answer questions, though I have no idea about anything kiteboard related, except it looks awesome and I like to take pictures of it πŸ™‚

        • If I remember properly (no guarantee!) it seems like there *might* be a hike through the swamp out to the pond, but we’ve never tracked down a trail, so I might be making that up. However, if you park at Maple Bay, I think it’s about a mile from the parking area to the pond. There are conflicting signs, but I follow the conservancy-posted signs that indicate that you can walk along the shoreline all the way to the public land (the area between Maple Bay and Petobego is privately-owned, and once you get a bit into the hike, signs just ask that you don’t trespass up onto the land). The sand is mostly packed, so it’s not an arduous trek, though you will probably have to divert into the water a bit here and there to avoid the driftwood.

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