Winter 2018

As the winter begins to come to a close, I wanted to share some of the photographs I took throughout this past winter season on Mackinac Island.

This turned out to be an exceptionally busy winter for me… although some see the island as a quiet place from the months of January through April, quite a bit is actually happening throughout the community. From jam sessions to ballroom dancing to archery and volleyball, street hockey, cross country skiing, and the list goes on… there was definitely a lot to do! This year, I did my best to embrace the community spirit and participate in as much as possible. That, combined with a few more weekends than normal traveling on and off the island, and I’d say I had a lot less free time this winter than in winters past… and for the most part, it was a good thing!

I think living on Mackinac Island year round has made me too much of a queasy winter driver though. I’m not a fan of driving in snow. However, I am quite alright driving over ice, and we fortunately all had the opportunity to drive over an ice bridge from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace this year, even if the ice bridge did only last a couple of weeks.

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Entrance to the ice bridge at British Landing
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Panoramic shot from the middle of the ice bridge (you’ll notice a few more people on the right… there was a big crack in the ice and a man was out there guiding people over the safest part of the crack).
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British Landing

 

Before the ice bridge was established, our only way off was by plane. I actually don’t mind the plane ride either as it only takes 5 minutes to get to St. Ignace. It’s also a great way to get pics of the Mackinac Bridge, the island, and see the ice coverage below. Every time I took a plane ride, my inner tourist came out and I’d be taking pics every time I went up in the air.

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Distant view of the Mackinac Bridge, frozen in a thick coverage of frozen lake

 

Of course the ice coverage in the lake is never a dull sight to see, either. We had a few areas around the island where large blocks of ice had been pushed to shore and stayed for the entire winter… although to be fair, Mackinaw City had some incredible piles of ice on their shores! I never actually walked out on their shores, but saw many people out on the piles of ice as I was driving by on one of my many drives across the bridge on the weekend.

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An iced in marina with the Coast Guard in the background
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Broken blocks of ice near the docks
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Ice stopped from floating into the bay by the breakwall
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End of March… ice is almost gone here
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End of March… the last remains of the ice bridge, seen from St. Ignace
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Taken late March – Round Island Lighthouse passage with the bridge in the background
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I love to see that blue water!

 

My favorite moments of the winter always happened outside, taking hikes and exploring the island covered in snow. This is the part of island life that I would say is peaceful and quiet during the winter… spending time out in nature! Most of the time I had my camera with me with the intent of taking photographs for instagram, or saving up for blog posts, but sometimes I’d just leave the camera in my bag and get lost on a good long trail.

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A view from Pontiac Trail
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On a trail between the two sets of stairs that lead up to West Bluff. Under the snow was a nice thick and smooth layer of ice. Not the best conditions for a hike!
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Stairs leading up to West Bluff
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From one of my walks up to the airport, stopped at a fork in the road
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                             Owl surveying the land up in the trees. I had the pleasure of seeing                                    him several times this winter!

 

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A northern view of Arch Rock
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Nearly Spring in front of the Grand Hotel
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The Grand porch
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Speed limit sign for snowmobilers
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New construction from the Shepler’s dock
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Horses and dray waiting to pick up more packages to deliver

Well it seems as though my spring break from work is over, so I’ll be getting back into my normal routine soon, and that will include many more trail hikes soon. Spring is a fun time to be outdoors because everything smells so fresh, and greenery starts to show up in my pictures again! I’m looking forward to another pretty Spring, and yet another exciting Summer…

Until next time,

Heather

The last of the Ice Bridge

The ice bridge is finally gone, but I still have a few pictures to share with all of you of its last days with us…

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It’s harder to see in this picture, but the trees really are still there!

Hearing stories from other islanders who have spent years to decades on this island in the cold, long winters, I’ve heard stories about a long standing ice bridge that many have used as their main transportation out of here. This year seemed to remind a lot of people of that time, as I was told that it’s been several years since we’ve had such a good ice bridge. I’ve only been here for 4 winters to experience the ice bridge, and the last two years produced bridges with a very short life span. But this year I had the opportunity to experience a long-term bridge, and take my first snowmobile ride across it as well.

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I flew off the island the last two weekends, and had some great views of the remainder of the ice bridge down below. Now you should always cross it with caution, but when you see it in this state, you can really appreciate the reason why.

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You can clearly see the open water and broken ice that surrounds the bare skeleton of an ice bridge that remains somewhat intact, with the trees hanging on to the trail. You can even make out the snowmobile tracks, and one can just imagine back just a month ago when people were zooming across it! It is truly a wonder of Northern Michigan.

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Now that the ice bridge is gone and all the snow on the roads (and most of the yards, too) has melted, it’s back to riding bikes again. And what do I find when I start riding my bike around? A flat tire, of course! I quickly got that fixed, along with replacing several parts to get my gears working again, and replacing a few missing screws on my back fender which holds up my rear basket. I’m glad to have it back in working order, and I’m also grateful that my bike isn’t hidden in this bike rack, still waiting for its mountain of snow to melt!

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Until next time!

-Heather

 

Ice Bridge

There’s a first time for everything… I finally got myself out on the ice bridge!

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You might recognize the picture above, but if you don’t, it’s the boardwalk! You can see how much snow has accumulated up here (actually, this picture is a couple weeks old and the wall of snow is much higher now!) The ice bridge that connects Mackinac Island to St. Ignace has been here for several months now, and people from all over have been making good use of it. And on my first trip over, I had to make sure to take a couple of photos.

My adventure took place a couple of weeks ago, on a sunny weekend with lots of people out and about on their snowmobiles. I didn’t start out at British Landing, where you can find one of the two ice bridge trails… instead, I took the “B-Line,” which starts at the end of the boardwalk:

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I figured if I get too scared to stop later in the trip that I should take a picture at the first tree!

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As you can clearly see, the ice bridge has snowmobile tracks that extend a fair amount away from the trees. But, don’t ever make a detour off the path! You may not end up at your destination… !

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Halfway through, and I decided that I could stop. We found a patch of ice not covered in snow, and tried to see how thick the ice was at that particular spot:

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Once on the St. Ignace side, I breathed a sigh of relief/pumped a fist in the air for my first trip over. Fun stuff! We even ran into some tourists making their first trip over and they actually asked us for directions! We told them to follow the trees. Since my first trip I’ve gone across the ice bridge another 4 times, and it has really been a good year for a bridge. If you’ve never been, always go with a buddy! And of course, always always ALWAYS, be careful and take all precautions while traveling the straits.

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mackinac island ice bridge panorama