Today, visual artist and photographer Shawn Stockman-Malone explains the beautiful blue ice found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, along with seven spectacular photos to showcase this wonderful winter phenomenon.
The winter of 2013-2014 has been one of the coldest on record, and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, many of those winter nights have reached zero degrees or below. These consistently frigid temperatures have transformed the region into a very frozen winter wonderland, and if you know where to look, you can find an abundance of the most beautiful of winter phenomenon, aquamarine blue ice.
With the Great Lakes reaching record ice cover, there will be plenty of opportunity to look for blue ice along shoreline as the ice breaks up and piles up with wind shifts this Spring. In a big freeze year like this one, it’s not uncommon to see ice slabs piled up that are 3-6 feet thick or more! And as the sunlight tries to make it’s way through, the blue color really stands out, even from a distance.
Another good place to look for blue ice is around the many seeps and waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula. Most notable, due to the concentration of ice formations in one area, is in the Munising, MI area. Thanks to it’s sandstone cliffs and ridges in which water seeps all year. Just about everyone has heard about the Apostle Islands ice caves by now, but the ice of Grand Island just may be the Midwest’s best kept secret when it comes to frozen winter beauty. Part of Grand Island’s ambiguity is that it is not as accessible as the Apostles due to it’s access being dependent upon the channel freezing enough for safe crossing. On the island, long stretches of entire cliff faces are lined in ice curtains, and when looking through some of these ice pillars back lit by the sun, they look like magical green and blue spikes of kryptonite. This year, the hard freeze of the East channel allowed visitors to cross over to Grand Island via a moderate hike, snowshoe or ski to see some of the best blue ice around.
You must be aware of ice conditions before crossing, as the ice pack you are walking on can open up in an instant on a wind shift or storm. The Grand Island ice curtains took months to form, but undergo change on a daily basis, with the thaw of the mid day sun and the re-freeze of the next frigid night creating new icicles and pillars. It becomes obvious from observing some of the ice pillars that have collapsed, that this ice weighs tons, so great care must be taken when in proximity of these magnificent frozen structures, as you never know when one could come down.
With more cold temps in the forecast, there’s plenty of winter left. This is the year to get out to one of these places and find your frozen winter wonderland! Here are seven spectacular photos to inspire your visit.
A couple observes the wonder of the Grand Island ice curtains
A broken pillar of ice creates abstract ice art
A person is dwarfed by the ice curtains of Grand Island
View of the ice curtains looking back towards Munising
The view looking up
The ice becomes bluer after each new layer of water freezes, Presque Isle, Marquette
Caught up with Justin “Bugsy” Sailor of Yooper Steez at the Grand Island Ice Curtains
Have you spotted any beautiful blue ice near you?
Shawn Stockman-Malone is a visual artist based out of Marquette, Michigan and runs LakeSuperiorPhoto, a photography gallery of her work on 211 S. Front St, Marquette MI. Her work can also be seen on her website and Facebook page.