April 15, 2015
Agate Falls is a Michigan State Scenic Site 6.5 miles east of Bruce Crossing on MI-28. There is a roadside park (Joseph F. Oravec roadside park) just past the bridge over the Ontonagon River. Unfortunately the provided trails and overlooks are somewhat limited. With some effort you can scramble down to the river to get some very good views of the falls, which seems to be popular with local fishermen, or scramble up the river banks to get to the old railroad bridge over the falls. The bridge is now part of a snowmobile trail.
March 24, 2015
USA Today is polling their readers to see what they think the 10 best state parks in the nation are. The entry page for the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park says:
The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, or the “Porkies” as its known to frequent visitors, encompasses 60,000 acres of lakes, rivers and virgin forest. The park offers camping on the shores of Lake Superior, 90 miles of hiking trails, kayak rentals, mountain biking and, in the winter, access to the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Mich. is currently ranked #2 of 20.
You can click here to vote if you’re so inclined.
John took this evening shot in October 2014 near the east end off the Lake of the Clouds. View it bigger on Flickr, see more staggering photos in his Autumn in Michigan slideshow, and definitely follow him on Facebook at Michigan Nut Photography.
March 13, 2015
Intense colors from the rare Great Aurora painted the skies around the world in vivid shapes that moved like legendary dragons. Ghostly celestial armies battled from sunset to midnight. Newspapers that reported this event considered the aurora, itself, to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle.
~Dr. Sten Odenwald
I like to revisit this March 13, 1989 incident documented by Dr. Odenwald in A Conflagration of Storms. In addition to being an amazing display of the aurora borealis, this solar storm took down Quebec’s power network and very nearly much more:
In many ways, the Quebec blackout was a sanitized calamity. It was wrapped in a diversion of beautiful colors, and affected a distant population mostly while they slept. There were no houses torn asunder, or streets flooded in the manner of a hurricane or tornado. There was no dramatic footage of waves crashing against the beach. There were no cyclonic whirlwinds cutting a swath of destruction through Kansas trailer parks. The calamity passed without mention in the major metropolitan newspapers, yet six million people were affected as they woke to find no electricity to see them through a cold Quebec wintry night. Engineers from the major North American power companies were not so blasé about what some would later conclude, could easily have escalated into a $6 billion catastrophe affecting most U.S. East Coast cities. All that prevented 50 million more people in the U.S. from joining their Canadian friends in the dark were a dozen or so heroic capacitors on the Allegheny Power Network.
The Media seemed to have missed one of the most human impacts of the beautiful aurora they so meticulously described in article after article. Today the March 1989 ‘Quebec Blackout’ has reached legendary stature, at least among electrical engineers and space scientists, as an example of how solar storms can adversely affect us. It has even begun to appear in science textbooks. Fortunately, storms as powerful as this really are rather rare. It takes quite a solar wallop to cause anything like the conditions leading up to a Quebec-style blackout. When might we expect the next one to happen? About once every ten years or so, but the exact time is largely a game of chance.
Call it the ultimate Friday the 13th! The whole book The 23rd Cycle:Learning to live with a stormy star is available online, and you can read a lot more from Dr. Odenwald at his website, The Astronomy Cafe or at facebook.com/AstronomyCafe.
A whole lot more northern lights on Michigan in Pictures!
PS: Keep an eye on solar storminess and get heads up notifications when the northern lights might be visible at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
February 12, 2015
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.
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.
February 4, 2015
I know that many folks in southern Michigan are wondering where the heck all this snow came from. Last night I realized that a friend of mine was actually responsible!
Yooper Steez tells the Legend of Finnish snow god Heikki Lunta:
The name is now often associated with an annual winter festival in Negaunee, but it’s creation is linked to an annual snowmobile race held in Atlantic Mine. In 1970, the U.P. was having one of those winters where it doesn’t snow as much as we might like, which was threatening the success of the race. To increase support, radio salesman David Riutta wrote the “Heikki Lunta Snow Dance Song.” This song created the fictional Heikki Lunta as a creature that lived in the backwoods of Tapiola, twenty miles south of Houghton, and would perform a dance to make it snow. The song went on U.P. airwaves and was a success, and incidentally it did snow that year, causing the snowmobile race to be postponed on account of too much snow.
The song gained popularity enough to be mentioned on “The Today Show” and “The Tonight Show,” and the radio salesman was even invited to sing the song for winter events in California.
As anyone who has been through an Upper Peninsula winter knows, the snow can become relentless, and by the end of that winter, Riutta wrote “Heikki Lunta Go Away,” which is now often paired with the initial song.
The name Heikki Lunta comes from the Finnish translation of the name Hank Snow, like the popular country and western singer.
Read on for more including videos of the Heikki Lunta Song by Da Yoopers and also see Heikki Lunta – A Modern Copper Country Folk Hero at Pasty.com. If you want to go in depth, Hilary Virtanen presents a detailed and fascinating history of this distinctly Yooper phenomenon from 1970 to the present day with press clippings and more in Not Just Talking About the Weather: Tradition, Social Change and Heikki Lunta (use the dates on the left to navigate).
PS: When he’s not making it snow, Adam is also a fantastic photographer. See his work, some of which is potentially NSFW depending on where you work, at brockit.com.
October 18, 2014
Linda writes that this photo is taken about 400 feet above Lake of the Clouds on the Escarpment Trail, which starts at Lake of the Clouds Overlook. She says that if you go the whole loop it’s 8 miles, but 2 or 3 miles along the trail you get the most beautiful views of the Lake.
There’s at the Porcupine Mountain State Park website including a map of the Escarpment Trail & Lake of the Clouds area and more Lake of the Clouds on Michigan in Pictures!
October 11, 2014
Fall color is everywhere this weekend in Michigan – get out and get some before the ice gets louder than the fire!!
About this photo of the Carp River in Porcupine Mountains State Park from five years and one day ago, Matthew writes:
Autumn in the Porcupine Mountains, from a few years ago…arguably one of the most bizarre weather experiences I’ve encountered. When I arrived, it was full-on blizzard conditions. The snow only lasted a few hours, but for that time, the forest was utterly surreal.
More from the Porcupines on Michigan in Pictures including this photo that Matthew took from the Lake of the Clouds overlook in 2009!!