MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - One of the 18 kayakers who were nearly hit by a falling cliff at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Monday is describing the frightening moments in the water.
A section of cliff falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Aug. 12, 2019. (Image courtesy Maxim Rigaux)
Maxim Rigaux, who was visiting from Chicago, says it was the sound of the fall he'll remember most.
Before he watched the massive fall, Rigaux recorded some small rocks falling from the Pictured Rocks sandstone cliffs. Rigaux thought he had got it all and stopped recording.
"We thought the worst was over, and then actually, I don't know why, but I just started recording another one," said Rigaux.
When the massive rock fall comes, he stops recording and paddles away, wondering what would happen next.
"You're beneath the massive rockfall and you have no idea how much more will fall down," he said. "It was quite frightening, especially for a few seconds."
With dirt covering his kayak, and the smell of very old soil surrounding him, Rigaux says the sound of the fall is most memorable from this tour with Northern Waters Adventures of Munising.
"It was like experiencing an explosion from very nearby," he said.
Drone photographer Jon Smithers captured the aftermath from the air.
Northern Michigan University Geology Professor Richard Ziegler says the near-record water levels on Lake Superior probably had nothing to do with this big release of the cliff.
"It's the wave action, the continual wave action that's undermining the cliff, essentially," said Ziegler. "And once it becomes too steep or overhanging, any fractures within the bedrock will weaken the bedrock."
Rigaux considers this moment a reminder to heed warning signs near cliffs, whether you're on land or in water.
"Because it's so beautiful, but at the same time you start to realize how dangerous it can be," he said.
WARNING: THE BELOW VIDEO CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE