Barefoot Ski Line

Barefoot ski line, photo by Mark Zacks

This looks like fun. The Spraymasters Water Ski Club says:

Our team was founded in 1987 by Bob Dowling. We have continued to grow and perform since then. For anyone unfamiliar with show skiing, it is made up of exciting acts that are not normally seen in recreational water skiing. These acts include barefooting, ballet line, doubles, swivel skiing, and pyramids up to four tiers high.

Throughout the summer, we perform our themed shows at our home site on Big Lake in Davisburg, Michigan. We also perform numerous shows for other lake associations and organizations around the state. Furthermore, Spray Masters is a part of the National Show Ski Association (NSSA). The team competes in several tournaments each summer as a team as well as individual performances.

The team starts preparing for each season before the ice is even off the lake. Beginning in February we practice in a gym learning the new moves we are going to perform that year. We practice pyramid climbing, doubles, trios, showmanship and dances. We usually start water practices in May and practice twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer. Our first show is usually in late June, and continue through late August.

Head over to their website for a calendar of their performances.

View Mark’s photo background big and see more of his lake photos on Flickr.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Big Spring (Kitch-iti-Kipi) Palms Book State Park

Big Spring (Kitch-iti-Kipi) Palms Book State Park, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

How about a big “way to go!” to the State of Michigan for a complete revamp their previously not very good Michigan Parks & Trails site? The new site is miles better!! The Palms Book State Park page says:

Palms Book is a rewarding side trip for the vacationer touring the Upper Peninsula, for here can be seen one of Michigan’s alluring natural attractions — Kitch-iti-kipi, The Big Spring. Two hundred feet across, the 40-foot deep Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit. By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies. Ancient tree trunks, lime-encrusted branches and fat trout appear suspended in nothingness as they slip through crystal waters far below. Clouds of sand kept in constant motion by gushing waters create ever-changing shapes and forms, a challenge to the imagination of young and old alike.

The legend of Kitch-iti-kipi is said to be about a young chieftain whose girlfriend got the best of him. He told her he loved her far above the other dark-haired maidens dancing near his birch bark wigwam. Prove it, she insisted. As a test of his devotion, she declared that he must set sail in his canoe on the pool deep in the conifer swamp. He was to catch her from his canoe as she leaped from an overhanging bough. His canoe overturned in the icy waters and he drowned. It turns out that the maiden was back at the village laughing at his foolish quest. According to legend, the Spring was named Kitch-itikipi in memory of the young chieftain who went to his death in the icy waters in an attempt to satisfy the vain caprice of his ladylove.

Other legends tell of Chippewa parents who came to the pool seeking names for their newborn. They supposedly found names like Satu (darling), Kakushika (big eye), Natukoro (lovely flower) and We-shi (little fish) scribed in the sounds of the rippling water. They attributed healing powers to the waters.

A drop of honey on a piece of birch bark dipped into Kitch-iti-kipi and presented to a loved one was to make them true forever. Another legend concerned the tamarack growing on the banks of Kitch-iti-kipi. A small piece of the bark ground in a mortar and pestle and placed in an individual’s empty pockets would be replaced by glittering gold at exactly midnight. Whatever the legends, visitors to the spring loved them. Kitch-iti-kipi is said to have many meanings in the Chippewa language-The Great Water; The Blue Sky I See; The Roaring, Bubbling Spring. Others called it the Sound of Thunder and Drum Water, even though the quiet is eerie. Whatever its name and legend, Palms Book State Park continues to draw curious visitors.

Although it was a black hole all but hidden in a tangle of fallen trees, John I. Bellaire fell in love with the Big Spring in the early 1920s…

Read on for the story of how it came to be a state park along with maps, photos and park events.

View John’s photo background big, purchase this photo and definitely follow him at Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook.

More Michigan parks on Michigan in Pictures!

Apple Island

Apple Island Aerial, photo via MSU Michigan History Student Publication

I was fascinated with the Farmer’s Almanac weather history tool this morning, so I went looking for notable Michigan happenings on June 18th…

Wikipedia’s Apple Island entry says that this 35-acre island was formed during the region’s last ice age (10,000 to 12,000 years ago) and lies in the middle of Orchard Lake. The West Bloomfield Historical Society has a nice article on Apple Island that says (in part):

Apple Island’s first admirers were Stone-Age Indians, who may have discovered it as early as 2,000 years ago. They were probably drawn to the site for its unique combination of land- and water-based resources, and the fact that their personal security was also enhanced on an island. It is not known exactly which Native Americans frequented Apple Island over the centuries before white settlement, but each group left clues to its way of life, including those which were raising crops at the time of Carpenter’s 1817 survey. In fact, the entire West Bloomfield lakes area has yielded many beautiful hammerstones, chert spearheads and birdstones – finely polished pieces of slate resembling stylized birds – left by their Native American owners long ago.

The treaty of November 17, 1807, negotiated with the Odawa, Ojibwe, Wyandot, and Potawatomi, ceded a tract of land comprising roughly the southeast quarter of the lower peninsula of Michigan and a small section of Ohio to the United States government. In time this land was surveyed, subdivided and offered for sale. Early settlers in what would become West Bloomfield Township noted that Native Americans visited the island often. In their language they reportedly referred to the area as “apple place” – a name which evidently stuck.

Read on for much more including the possibility that Chief Okemos was born on the island, its first purchase on June 18, 1827 by James Galloway and its current status as the Marjorie Ward Strong Woodland Sanctuary. Definitely check out Michigan History at MSU’s West Bloomfield – Apple Island feature for more photos & info and some really cool hand-drawn maps from the early 1900s.

The source of the “apple place” name is from Dr. Samuel M. Leggett’s epic poem The Legend of Me-nah-sa-gor-ning first circulated in 1909.

More Throwback Thursdays on Michigan in Pictures!

Close Encounter by Liz Glass

Close Encounter, photo by Liz Glass

Liz took this back in May of 2011 at Glenwood Beach on Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City. View it bigger and see a ton more of her Lake Charlevoix photos on Flickr.

PS: If you’re in Boyne City and looking for good things to eat, visit Liz at the Lake Street Market!

Heron & Beaver

Heron & Beaver, photo by Corinne Schwarz

Here’s a cool photo from May of 20111 that I never featured for some reason. That reason might have been so I could link to this article from the Birdwatchers General Store in Cape Cod about the symbiotic relationship between beavers & blue herons. It says in part:

It is thought that the Bay State’s famed naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, never saw a Great Blue Heron nest in Massachusetts. Why? It’s partly because there were no beavers living in MA during Hank’s lifetime. Way back in the 1700s, unregulated cutting eliminated the trees beavers needed for survival.

…Today, beavers are once again thriving in MA. That’s not only great news for anyone who enjoys seeing beavers, but it’s great news for Great Blue Herons as well.

I think we all know how beavers operate. They find a secluded stream, cut down a few trees and dam it up. The area behind the dam becomes flooded and turns into a beaver pond. Why do beavers need to go through all the work to build their very own pond? The beavers create a pond so they can have underwater access to their lodge, even when everything is frozen in the winter. However, the newly built pond often entraps large trees, which eventually drown and die. Dead trees growing out of the center of a pond may look eerie to us, but they are magnets to herons. The dead trees provide excellent platforms for the birds to build their nests on. In addition, the water prevents terrestrial predators from munching on the eggs and babies. Between the swampy setting, the dead trees, the bulky stick nests and the gangly herons, the whole scene looks a Gothic nursery, but the birds love it.

Read on for lots more, and for more about these two species, see Know Your Michigan Birds: Great Blue Heron and Castor canadensis, the American beaver on Michigan in Pictures.

View Corrine’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her Water Wheel slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Torch Lake Afterglow

April 21, 2015

Torch Lake Afterglow

Torch Lake Afterglow, photo by Heather Higham

Wikipedia shares that at 19 miles long, Torch Lake is Michigan’s longest inland lake, and our second largest inland lake*.

The name of the lake is not due to its shape, rather, is derived from translation from the Ojibwa name Was-wa-gon-ong meaning “Place of the Torches”, referring to the practice of the local native American population who once used torches at night to attract fish for harvesting with spears and nets. For a time it was referred to by local European settlers as “Torch Light Lake”, which eventually was shortened to its current name.

View Heather’s photo bigger and see more Torch Lake goodness (including some nothern lights) in her slideshow.

* If you’re curious to see the lineup, Houghton is biggest and the rest are right here.

Standing Iceboater

March 28, 2015

Ice Boating in Leelanau County Michigan

Standing Iceboater, photo by Mark Smith

It’s 8 degrees right now in Traverse City, and while the weeklong run of wintry weather hasn’t been good for such popular pursuits as getting the garden ready, boxing up winter clothes and keeping your house from being declared a Cabin Fever Disaster Area, it has left the ice in many parts of the state just perfect for the sport of ice boating.

Northern Michigan AP News photographer John Russell is a Michigan in Pictures contributor and wrote Ice Boating: An Ancient Sport in a Modern World a few years ago. It begins:

Sailing on frozen surfaces is believed to have its roots in Northern Europe, where goods and people moved around the region on frozen rivers and canals, using simple sails and handmade boats.

The Dutch and others brought iceboating to the Hudson River valley and other places along the East Coast, where miles of frozen rivers made for great sailing during the winter months. Freight and people were commonly moved up and down the Hudson River in huge, slooped-rigged boats.

Ranging in length from 30 – 50 feet, the stern-steering boats are still raced today by the Northwest Ice Yacht Association, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The ancient sport of sailing on frozen lakes and rivers is alive and well in our state, which has a long and involved history in the sport. Innovations developed in Michigan have enhanced and improved iceboating.

During the winter of 1936-1937, in the hobby shop at the Detroit News, boat builder Archie Arroll, along with Norm Jarrait and Joe Lodge, designed an ice boat they called the Blue Streak 60. Designed to be small enough to build in a garage, and easy enough to be built by anyone, the 12-foot hull design became known as the DN 60, for Detroit News and the 60-square-foot sail.

It is now the largest one-design boat class in the world, with over 8,000 registered boats around the world.

Read on for more including our state’s role in international ice boat racing, some state clubs, safety tips and a couple of photos from John.

Mark took this shot earlier in the week on Lake Leelanau. View it background bigtacular and see more photos (and a couple videos) in his Ice Boats slideshow.

More Michigan iceboating on Michigan in Pictures!

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