Wearing o the Green (ice)

Icicles in cave – Grand Island Ice Curtains on Lake Superior, photo by Craig

Craig writes:

A little emerald green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Viewing this ice curtain from the inside at Grand Island near Munising Michigan, highlights the blue and teal hues that nature provides.

View the photo bigger and see more in Craig’s Grand Island Ice Curtains set.

Words escape me: Grand Island Ice Caves, 2015

lake-superior-brilliant-ice-curtains

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!

Hard Luck Lights: Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse

grand-island-east-channel-lighthouse

Grand Island Lighthouse, photo by Steve Nowakowski

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light shares the story of one of Michigan’s hard-luck lighthouses, the Grand Island East Channel LightWork began in 1867 with the the clearing of a sandy peninsula on the southeast shore of the island:

As a result of the chosen site being both on low ground and close to the water’s edge, a considerable amount of cribbing was installed along the shore line to help stave-off erosion and undermining of the station’s foundation. Plans for the station building called-out a typical “schoolhouse” style combination dwelling and tower similar to that used frequently throughout the lakes. However, in order to minimize cost the building was to be of timber frame construction with wood siding, as opposed to the more common brick or stone materials used in such structures elsewhere. Painted white to increase its value as a daymark, the 1 ½ story dwelling incorporated a forty-five foot tower its southern end, and was outfitted with an oil-fired steamer lens with a focal plane of 49 feet.

…The combination of a wooden structure in such an exposed location, and its location on the low sandy area close to the water’s edge created an ongoing maintenance nightmare for the district engineers, with the station listed as one at which considerable repairs were taken every year for the following thirty years.

…Without any care throughout the years, the structure deteriorated rapidly. Without regular scraping and repainting, the once bright white structure had turned a dismal driftwood gray, and the cribs installed a hundred years previously had disintegrated completely, with the waters of Munising Bay lapping directly at the stones of the structure’s foundation.

Read on for much more including efforts that stabilized this structure and the lighthouses that replaced it after decommissioning in 1908.

View Steve’s photo background big and see more in his 2016 Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

A year ago on Grand Island

Ice Pillars on Grand Island

unbelievable colors in the ice pillars, Grand Island, photo by Lake Superior Photo

On March 1st, Shawn shared this shot from last March on Grand Island. We’ve had nowhere near the ice buildup this year – a year can really make a difference.

Also, I’d like to congratulate her on having (as far as I know) the most popular Facebook page for a Michigan photographer – 201,000+ fans for Lake Superior Photo! If you’re not one of those, I urge you to change that right now.

View the photo bigger and view & purchase her photos at LakeSuperiorPhoto.com.

PS: Just in case you missed it, Michigan in Pictures has a good explanation of what gives ice difference colors.

Winter is Coming … and it might not be all that bad

Munising Ice Caves

munising ice caves/curtains, photo by Paul Wojtkowski

The Freep reports that El Niño in Pacific could mean mild Michigan winter:

Less ice on the Great Lakes would ease the freighter shipping industry’s logistical nightmares of recent winters. Less snow-melt runoff in the spring could forestall flooding that sends nutrients off farms and into Lake Erie, fueling its summer algae blooms. And deer populations that have dropped dramatically in the Upper Peninsula over recent harsh winters could begin to rebound.

…Over a century, comparing Michigan’s normal winter precipitation versus 10 El Niño events between 1915 and 1992, rain and snowfall was about 72% of normal in the Metro Detroit area during the El Niños; 78% of normal in the Thumb area, and in the 80% to 85% range of normal throughout the rest of lower Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula, according to NOAA.

You can read on for more. While that means that we might not have as much ice cave fun in Michigan this winter, I think I’m OK with an El Niño intermission!

Check Paul’s photo of this winter’s incredible ice caves on Grand Island out background bigalicious, see more in his slideshow and follow Paul Wojtkowski Photography on Facebook!

More ice caves on Michigan in Pictures!

 

#TBT – Ice Caves of 2015

Icicles on cave - Grand Island Ice Curtains on Lake Superior - Munising, Michigan

Icicles on cave – Grand Island Ice Curtains, photo by Craig

As the mercury climbs and some crazy people (such as yours truly) start grumbling about the high temps, it’s probably a good time to take a look back at last winter’s spectacular ice caves.

Aubrieta Hope shared the story of her trip with Craig and two other photographers (Neil Weaver & John McCormick) to check out the Grand Island ice curtains. All four are Michigan in Pictures regulars – click to check out In Search of Superior Crystal on the Pure Michigan Blog. It has a bunch of photos and begins:

In the heart of winter, when the drifts are as high as houses and snow-dusted pines line the roads, photographers travel to the Upper Peninsula in search of crystal. Not antique-store crystal, but Superior crystal, the kind that occurs when the north wind turns every drop of open water into something sparkling and new. During the coldest months, the great lake freezes, heaves and breaks, forming mountains of crystal rocks, so tall they seem like permanent landforms. Icebergs and volcanoes rise in the harbors and bays, reflecting all the colors of the sky. Waterfalls slow from a rush to a trickle, building columns that bubble and sing. And, on the sandstone cliffs, springs that flow unseen in the summer months create glittering ice curtains.

During winter’s last stand, at the very beginning of March, I headed north to find Superior crystal. My trip was inspired by winter photographs of the U.P. that I’d viewed online. I’d seen dramatic images of enormous frozen waterfalls, great Superior ice fields, and shining rivers wreathed in morning mist. I wanted to experience and photograph all those scenes, but more than anything, I wanted to see the legendary ice curtains of Grand Island in Munising Bay. These immense, aqua blue ice curtains form when cold temperatures freeze the springs that seep from the island’s rocky cliffs. It can be tricky to get to the ice curtains, though. The island is not accessible every winter because the currents are strong in the bay, preventing adequate ice buildup. During last year’s historically cold winter, the bay froze sufficiently to allow foot traffic. For awhile it looked like Grand Island would not be accessible this year, but February’s arctic blast arrived just in time.

View Craig’s photo bigger and see & purchase more in the Grand Island Ice Curtains – Munising gallery on Craig’s website.

PS: The Grand Island National Recreation Area is located just off the coast of the UP in Munising and is an amazing place, complete with mountain bike trails!

PPS: More ice caves on Michigan in Pictures too!

PPPS: I really am a fan of the PS. If you are too, please PS in the comments!

Leaving the Land of Ice & Frost

Ice Curtains on Grand Island, Munising, MI

Ice Curtains on Grand Island, Munising, MI, photo by Carl TerHaar

Seems fitting to stay at Grand Island for another day. With a few exceptions, most of Michigan is above freezing even at this early hour, which means it’s time to say goodbye to winter and icy excursions. What a winter!!

View Carl’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his slideshow.

Haven’t had enough? There’s more winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Ice curtains at Grand Island

Ice Curtains at Grand Island

Grand Island Ice Curtains, photo by Neil Weaver Photography

Neil says that seeing these in person was such an awesome experience. View the photo background bigtacular on his Facebook page, purchase a print right here, and check out lots more icy goodness at neilweaverphotography.com.

Except for a tiny sliver, the entirety of this Lake Superior island just off Munising is open for public access as the Grand Island National Recreation Area​. You will definitely want to check with locals regarding ice conditions. With a warming week of weather ahead, this is probably something to put on your 2016 agenda.

More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

#TBT Fortress of Solitude Edition at the Grand Island Ice Caves

Grand Island Ice Cave

Grand Island ice cave, Winter 2012/13, photo by Ash W Photography

A cool site that really gives you to tools to have a lot of fun in the Upper Peninsula is Things to Do in the U.P. #64 is visiting the Grand Island Ice Caves. After providing very detailed tips & information about how to get to these spectacular formations on Lake Superior off Munising, Brian Marticcui writes (in part):

For an intimate look at nature’s awesome power, sidle up to one of the columns and peer into its core. Expecting a solid tower of frozen water? Not a chance. These columns, especially the newer and/or sun-exposed ones, are actually made up of tiny beads and icicle-like formations separated by vertical channels that allow water to pass through them. It’s one of those mind-numbingly complex natural things that’s simultaneously random and orderly – kind of like a geode, but mostly frozen and not quite as colorful.

Inside, things are a bit more stable – and a whole lot more interesting, if that’s possible. For starters, many of the “entrances” to the caves are little more than elevated holes between solid ice columns. Depending on how the caves have set during the weeks leading up to your visit, you may have to scramble up a mound and squeeze yourself through an opening to actually gain access. (Clip-on crampons might be a good idea.)

Once you get in, be careful, both for your own physical safety and for the integrity of the caves themselves. The floors are often mirror-smooth, making regular walking a major challenge. Meanwhile, the ceilings can be low and/or spiky, and some of the most intricate formations – the fuzzy, mold-like bits of “shaved” ice that project from the bare rock of the walls and ceilings – are extremely fragile. Don’t be the guy or girl who ruins a particularly awesome formation for everyone else – those things don’t reform in their original states.

Since the caves’ outer walls aren’t comprised of a single, solid curtain, and blockages abound, you’ll have to enter and exit several times to get the full measure of their interior spaces. Be careful each time you do; in particular, don’t lean on any dubious-looking columns. Ice is heavy, and you’ll probably see the chilling remains of spectacular collapses. You don’t want to be under an unsafe formation when it goes.

Read on for much more and also follow Jesse’s Things to Do in the U.P. on Facebook.

Ash took this shot at Grand Island’s ice caves a couple of years ago. View it bigger on Facebook and see more of her work in her Upper Peninsula of Michigan gallery at ashwphotography.com.

PS: If you’re in the Marquette area, Ash be displaying February 17 through the end of March at Sweet Water Cafe in Marquette from Feb 17th to the end of March, just a few doors down from Zero Degrees Artist Cooperative where she has her work.

PPS: For a little discussion on current conditions on the crossing to Grand Island, see this thread on Facebook, and before you go be sure to talk to someone who knows something about it. Feel welcome to use that advice for anything that’s possibly dangerous that you know little about.

Grand Island’s North Shore

Remote Lake Superior by Lake Superior Photo

Grand Island, North Side, photo by Lake Superior Photo

The Grand Island National Recreation Area is located on Grand Island off the coast of the U.P. just west of Munising. The island is accessible by private boat or ferry and features cliffs like those in the Pictured Rocks, with some as high as 300 feet! There’s a hiking/biking trail around the island, but Shawn says this location is probably only accessible by boat.

You really should check this shot out background bigtacular on Facebook. There’s lots more great pics in Lake Superior Photo’s amazing gallery too. Do yourself a favor and follow Shawn & Lake Superior Photo if you’re not already and purchase prints online or in her gallery & studio in downtown Marquette!

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.