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.

Houghtons Heikki Lunta

Hancock’s Heikki Lunta, photo by Mark Riutta / Defined Visuals

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).

View Mark’s photo bigger and see his work at Defined Visuals on Facebook.

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.

Lake of the Clouds from the Escarpment Trail, Porcupine Mountains

Lake of the Clouds from the Escarpment Trail, Porcupine Mountains, photo by Linda Carter

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.

Agreed!

View her photo bigger and see more in her Porkies slideshow.

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!

A Stream of Ice and Fire

October 11, 2014

A Stream of Ice and Fire

A Stream of Ice and Fire, photo by posthumus_cake (www.pinnaclephotography.net)

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.

View the photo bigger, see more more in his Porcupine Mountains slideshow and also at his website, Pinnacle Photography.

More from the Porcupines on Michigan in Pictures including this photo that Matthew took from the Lake of the Clouds overlook in 2009!!

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls, photo by Ashley Williams

If you’re wondering what fall color looks like in the northeastern Upper Peninsula, wonder no more! Ashley took this shot at Michigan’s largest waterfall, the Tahquamenon Falls last week. As you can see, it’s shaping up nicely.

If you’re wondering about statewide color, the Freep shared a NASA photo of Michigan’s fall color from space that’s pretty cool!

View her photo background bigtacular and see more in her Michigan’s Upper Peninsula slideshow.

There’s lots more fall wallpaper and more Tahquamenon Falls on Michigan in Pictures!

Sunset over the Keweenaw

September 20, 2014

Sunset over the Keweenaw

Sunset over the Keweenaw, photo by Ashley Williams

Here’s a beautiful shot from late October last year on the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. With temps this cold, it won’t be long until the color returns! Hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend.

View Ashley’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow. You can also follow her on Facebook or Instagram and visit her photography website.

More from the Keweenaw and more fall wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Tahquamenon Falls by LakeSuperiorPhoto

Tahquamenon Falls, by LakeSuperiorPhoto

It’s certainly no secret that one of my favorite Michigan photographers is Shawn Stockman Malone of Lake Superior Photo. The latest national outlet to recognize her work is Huffington Post Detroit, which assembled a collection of her UP Night Sky photos in a nice feature that says (in part):

Stockman-Malone runs photography gallery LakeSuperiorPhoto in Marquette, Michigan, a bustling college and former mining town on the Lake Superior coast.

…While Stockman-Malone does monitor sun weather to try to catch views of the Northern Lights, much of her work is guided by chance — and by being ready to photograph at any time. Once, her dog was scared and woke her up when lightning struck, and she caught a shot of the Northern Lights over the storm.

“You never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve, and just hope you catch it,” Stockman-Malone said about her night photography practice in an email to The Huffington Post. “The Milky Way moves across the sky and can be found rising and setting in different directions throughout the year, so there will always be new perspectives in new locations. Same thing goes for moonrises and moonsets. Then there’s meteor showers, conjunction of planets, appearance of comets, etc. so there’s always something new happening.”

Click through for more and lots more incredible night shots!

View this photo and more bigger at Huffington Post Detroit, purchase prints at lakesuperiorphoto.com and get your daily dose of Upper Peninsula Amazing through the Lake Superior Photo Facebook.

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