#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!

Michigan Ice Cave Collection #77: Whitefish Point Ice Cave

Whitefish Point Ice Cave by David Marvin

Whitefish Point Ice Cave, photo by David Marvin

If you’re collecting Michigan ice caves, you should know that Whitefish Point (up past the Tahquamenon Falls on Lake Superior) has ice caves right now.

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his absolutely stunning Taqhamenon Falls & Whitefish Point – February 28, 2015 slideshow. (seriously, run, don’t walk to see this slideshow!) Lots more from David at his Marvin’s Gardens blog.

More winter wallpaper and more ice caves on Michigan in Pictures.

 

Frankfort Ice Cave

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Frankfort Ice Cave, photo by Sarah Hunt (oni_one_)

“Love lingers when the heart remembers to touch the light leaking from the soul.”
~R.M. Drake

Here’s a pretty incredible shot from Sunday in Frankfort Harbor.

Lots more great shots from outdoors in Michigan on Sarah’s Instagram. I’ll post this one and another shot bigger on the michpics Facebook.

In addition to being a pretty great photographer with a penchant for adventure, Sarah is an ambassador for Outdoor Bella, a community of strong women who are building strong relationships and lasting friendships and love to embrace the outdoors. She’s hosting a snowshoe hike meetup at 9:30am on Sunday, March 1st at the Sleeping Bear Point Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, followed by lunch at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor following the hike. Get all the details right here.

#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.

#TBT The Ice Caves of Leelanau from Ken Scott

Ken Scott Ice Cave

Lake Michigan … crystal cave II, photo by Ken Scott Photography

“My creative eye is always on. It doesn’t get bored. A lot of people get stuck on seeing things only one way, like the wide view or closeup view … but there’s everything in between. Boredom would come when you’re getting stuck in seeing things only one way. You just have to shift it a little bit and it can open up a whole other world.”
~Ken Scott

Kudos to Michigan in Pictures regular Ken Scott, whose photography of last winter’s ice caves on Lake Michigan is featured in the Huffington Post today. They write:

Scott’s documentation of the ice caves last year on Facebook drew likes, attention and, eventually, the book deal. In Ice Caves of Leelanau, he shows numerous views of the caves, blue ice, volcano ice, pancake ice, the large sheet of anchor ice along the shore, and the rounded and smoothed chunks of ice known as ice balls. Meteorologist Ernie Ostuno captioned Scott’s photographs for the book, and nature writer Jerry Dennis introduced them:

The caves were the surprising thing. Many of us had seen similar structures during other winters, but never many of them, and never this large. These were big enough to stand in — for a dozen people to stand in — and as elaborate as caves in limestone. They were domes and keyholes and grottos. Wave spray and intermittent thawing and freezing had embellished them with columns and pillars. Their surfaces were so smooth they gleamed in sunlight, and from their ceilings dripped hundreds of daggers of clear ice, like crystal stalactites.

George Leshkevich, a researcher with the North American Ocean Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, noted that last winter was particularly severe for the Great Lakes, resulting in unique conditions where ice reached peak thickness two separate times in the season.

Different kinds of ice formations occur because of a confluence of reasons, Leshkevich explained, including meteorological conditions, the physical location and wave action, so they’re hard to predict and will vary widely along the shore.

Click through for more great photos. You can check out a short video or a long one from this particular formation, and definitely get a copy of Ice Caves of Leelanau if you can!

PS: I hope all this ice caveyness isn’t bothering you – I’m so happy to see Michigan getting some wintertime love.

Ice Caves Return to Lake Michigan

Ice Caves Return

Ice Caves Return, photo by Heather Higham

With a long run of temps in the single digits and teens and the mercury way down to -11 here in Traverse City this morning, I wasn’t all that surprise to learn that ice caves and other formations are starting to form on Lake Michigan.

Ice caves off the Leelanau Peninsula last winter created a sensation that drew thousands to the Leelanau Peninsula to view some fantastic formations. While they haven’t reached that level yet, the frigid temperatures from Polar Vortex II make it likely that photographers and lovers of the outdoors could be in for another fantastic & frozen feast in 2015!

Heather writes that while she didn’t go too far afield searching for ice caves, but there’s definitely some cool stuff to be discovered along the coast. She took this Esch Road Beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. View her photo bigger on her Snap Happy Gal Facebook page and see more in her ice formations slideshow at Flickr.

More ice caves on Michigan in Pictures.

 

Ice Caves of Leelanau: The Book

Lake Michigan ... ice cave sunset

Lake Michigan … ice cave sunset, photo by Ken Scott

Last winter some incredible ice formations piled up off the coast of the Leelanau Peninsula, and the photographer on the scene was my friend & Michigan in Pictures regular Ken Scott. Ken has published a book, Ice Caves of Leelanau, that features some of his best shots and essays by noted Michigan author Jerry Dennis. Right now his books are mostly sold out (reprint coming in July) but you might be able to sweet talk one out of Ken – email him here.

If you’re in northwest Lower Michigan you can catch Ken’s talk on the ice caves tomorrow from 4-6 PM at the Leland Township Library.

View the photo bigger on Flickr and see more in his Lake Michigan Ice & Caves slideshow. You can also see some videos of the Ice Caves on Ken’s site!