Words escape me: Grand Island Ice Caves, 2015

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Words escape me, photo by Lake Superior Photo

Words escape ME on the beauty of the video that Shawn of Lake Superior Photo shared. The ice caves on Grand Island near Munising didn’t happen this year, a very unfortunate thing for everyone in Michigan who makes their livelihood from winter recreation. However, thanks to the magic of the video below, we can travel back to 2015.

You can view Shawn’s photo from winter of 2015  bigger on Facebook and purchase the photo right here. I can’t stress enough that you should follow Shawn and Lake Superior Photo on Facebook. Please do it.

Now here’s that video. Be sure to turn your volume up and watch in HD – there’s a “boom” from the ice sheet at 4 seconds that’s incredible!

Sturgeon Bay Outhouse & Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park

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Sturgeon Bay Outhouse, photo by David Clark

We’re going to let David Clark of one of my favorite blogs, Cliffs and Ruins, take over today’s post. He writes:

The most scenic walk to an outhouse award goes to Sturgeon Bay Cabin at Wilderness State Park, where this line of wind-blown cedars escorts you to the potty.

I took this photo on the 2nd day of my snowshoe adventure at Wilderness State Park in December 2016, after a heavy snowfall the night before. I enjoyed 3 days of spectacularly good snowshoeing and utter solitude. Read more at my blog: Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park.

I really encourage you to check out David’s post for photos and a great account of his visit to Wilderness State Park which is located on the northwest shore of the lower peninsula, to the west of the Mackinac Bridge. This is an adventure I really hope to take!!

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Wilderness State Park 2016 slideshow.

Trouble in a corner of paradise

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Porcupine Mountain State Park, photo by Jim Sorbie

I’m sure that some people will see this as a “political” post, but it’s very much in line with Michigan in Pictures’ 11 year focus on the promotion AND protection of Michigan’s natural beauty. In other words, I will never stop speaking up when I believe decisions are being made that jeopardize this state that I love. Mineral mining, particularly the sulfide mineral mining that is sweeping the UP, is among the most polluting activities, and in my opinion, is totally out of bounds within a state park. If you are interested in opposition to this and in learning about acid mine drainage and its impact on groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes, including Lake Superior, I encourage you to visit the Mining Action Group.

On Monday, the Michigan DNR released this troubling story about exploratory drilling at Porcupine Mountains State Park:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a use permit to Orvana Resources U.S. Corp. – a subsidiary of Highland Copper – to conduct exploratory drilling on a 1-mile-square piece of property situated along the westernmost edge of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Gogebic County.

The exploratory drilling began Sunday and is scheduled to continue into early March, depending on weather conditions.

“This drilling project will affect a very small portion of DNR-managed land,” said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. “The vast majority of the park, including the Presque Isle River, will remain unaffected by this exploration activity.”

If the exploration results indicate the potential for copper in suitable quality and minable quantities, Highland Copper would conduct a feasibility study, designed to mine the deposit entirely by underground methods, allowing the company to gain access to the copper ore body from land it owns outside the park.

You can view Jim’s photo from October of 2013 background bigilicious and see more in his Autumn in Michigan slideshow.

Winter at Tahquamenon Falls

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Winter at Tahquamenon Falls, photo by Ali Majdfar

Beautiful shot from Michigan’s largest waterfall, Tahquamenon Falls. Click that link for more – the next photo down is the same angle without ice & snow!

View Ali’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow. (warning – there’s a couple of AMAZING bug closeups in there too!)

Michigan Mink (Mustela vison)

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Hello Mink, photo by Glen Suszko

The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy has an excellent article on the mink (Mustela vision) that says in part:

Some predators are highly specialized, honed by evolution to efficiently hunt certain prey in distinct habitats and situations. And then there’s the mink (Mustela vison). The sleek, dark- bodied weasel is about as versatile as predators come – taking a wide variety of prey on land and water, day or night. If a mink played baseball, it would be the utility player who could step in at almost every position.

Mink are found throughout North America except in the extreme northernmost reaches of Canada and the arid southwestern U.S. Much larger than the short-tailed and long-tailed weasels (see the March – April 2012 issue of The Wildlife Volunteer), adult males reach 28 inches in length and can weigh up to 3.5 pounds. Females are smaller, but are still big enough to prey on muskrats, rabbits, small woodchucks, chickens, a host of smaller animals, and birds’ eggs.

A mink’s foot has five toes that are slightly webbed and with semi-retractile claws. That combination lets the animals swim well and keep its claws sharp enough to grab fish and other slippery prey.

Mink can dive 15 feet and swim fast enough to catch muskrats underwater as well as in muskrat houses and burrows. They stalk lakeshores, river banks, and wetlands, matching hunting times to prey availability. This past winter, I watched a mink follow a lakeshore, then walk the edge of open water on ice in broad daylight far away from cover. Yet, mink also frequently hunt at night, slinking in and out of thick brush, cattail stands, log jams, or rock piles.

Read on for lots more!

View Glen’s photo from the Sterling Heights Nature Center bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Lots more Michigan animals on Michigan in Pictures!

Ice is Nice: Tracking Ice Cover on the Great Lakes

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Shoreline Ice, photo by Mark Swanson

Ice on Michigan’s Great Lakes has become something of a phenomenon in the last few years, attracting photographers and thousands more to see the ephemeral beauty created by wind, water, and freezing temperatures. But ice has other important purposes, as NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory page on Great Lakes Ice Cover explains:

Ice formation on the Great Lakes is a clear signal of winter. Looking back in time, the lakes were formed over several thousands of years as mile-thick layers of glacial ice advanced and retreated, scouring and sculpting the basin. The shape and drainage patterns of the basin were in a constant state of flux resulting from the ebb and flow of glacial meltwater coupled with the rebound of the underlying land as the massive ice sheets retreated.

Heavy ice cover can reduce the amount of evaporation from the Great Lakes in the winter, thus contributing to higher water levels.

In bays and other nearshore areas, ice forms a stable platform for winter recreational activity such as ice fishing. This stable ice also protects wetlands and the shoreline from erosion.

  • 94.7% ice coverage in 1979 is the maximum on record (data began in 1973)
  • 9.5% ice coverage in 2002 is the lowest on record
  • 11.5% ice coverage in 1998, a strong El Niño year
  • The extreme ice cover in 2014 (92.5%) and 2015 (88.8%) were the first consecutive high ice cover years since the late 1970s.

NOAA pegs the current ice cover at 9.9% and you can also watch an animation of the last 60 days of ice formation. You can check out satellite images of the Great Lakes for current ice cover and also this cool animation of Great Lakes ice cover from 1973 – 2016.

Mark took this photo a little over a week ago at Lincoln Township Park near Stevensville. With the warmer weather, there’s probably less. View his photo bigger and see more in his Michigan Winter slideshow.

Walking with Martin Luther King

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Martin Luther King Park, photo by Bill Dolak

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
-Martin Luther King

The sculpture is “Martin Luther King” by Lisa Reinertson and her site includes an article about the sculpture:

A bronze portrait figure of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. strides forward confidently in a small park in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The statue, created by sculptor Lisa Reinertson, is only slightly larger than real life, but its presence is monumental.

Seen from a distance, the clerical robe worn by Reverend King strengthens the tall, pyramidal composition, while the robe’s flowing contours both animate the design and echo the character of this restless minister who was constantly on the march for freedom and justice.

Upon approaching the sculpture, which the viewer is drawn to do by its placement on a simple low pedestal, one sees that the robe is embellished with scenes from the civil rights struggle rendered in low relief. A black slave labors in a field near the hem of the robe, while a dark fold of the garment reveals the lynching of a man by the Ku Klux Klan. A Montgomery city bus and a portrait of Rosa Parks adorn the lower left side. The Selma to Montgomery march and King’s I Have a Dream speech are depicted elsewhere. One also finds images of voter registration, school desegregation, the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit in, and the use of firehoses to break up the peaceful 1963 Birmingham demonstrations. Down King’s broad back the vertical folds of the cloth evolve into the bars of the Birmingham Jail with a pensive King seated behind them. Above him is the image of Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired King’s use of non-violent civil disobedience.

View Bill’s photo from MLK Park in Kalamazoo background big and see more in his MASSIVE Kalamazoo slideshow.

More about Martin Luther King on Michigan in Pictures.