There’s still plenty of time to partake in some fun winter activities here in Pure Michigan. Skiing, snowboarding and sledding are all well-known winter activities, but why not try something new like ice sailing?
A: I own a company called Action Sports Enterprises and I am the organizer for the Ice and Snow Sailing Festival/Winter Sailing Cup of North America.
Q: What is ice sailing and how did you get into the sport?
A: Ice sailing is essentially powering sports that you already enjoy either by the environment or by wind. That includes sailing, skating, skiing and snowboarding. You do those same events that you love, but now you are doing them either directly on ice or on ice that has snow on top.
I was introduced to wind sailing when I was selected as a Gate Judge for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and have had a passion for the sport ever since.
Q: Why do you love ice sailing?
A: I love ice sailing for many reasons. You can do it anywhere there is wind and snow or ice and it incorporates sports I already enjoy. The sport is also very green and a form of free power. The idea of powering sports that people already enjoy with wind is exciting! For those who have yet to try it, it is truly wind dancing.
Q: Who might like to try ice sailing?
A: I think anyone who enjoys the outdoors - especially kitesurfers, sailors, ice skaters, windsurfers , skiers and snowboarders should try the sport. It is really unlike anything else and great time especially if you already love outdoor sports.
Q: Do you have any advice for ice sailing beginners?
A: First of all, I recommend taking a lesson or demoing some equipment at one of our events. Adding wind power to activities like skiing and snowboarding requires a lot of balance.
Q: What equipment or skills do you need to start ice sailing?
A: There are four different kinds of devices used for ice sailing:
The wing – The wing is almost like a mini hang-glider. You’re not harnessed in and really feel the wind.
The kite – The kite is like a parachute that is attached to you. For the kite, you’ll need an instructor to harness you in.
The sled – If you’ve ever seen wind surfing, you know what the sled is like. You hold onto the sail and have either skis or blades on to navigate over the snow and ice.
The Sail- Sailing on the Ice with an Ice Boat
Q: In 2012, WISSA came to Michigan. Why is Michigan such a great place for ice sailing and what was the reaction from participants?
A: Michigan is a great state for the sport because it has so many frozen lakes. The Great Lakes are especially great with the unobstructed wind. Michigan also has a lot of open space with snow which can also be great places to snow sail.
We’ve had rave reviews from event participants from across the globe that Michigan is ideal for ice sailing and we have to agree. Next year, we are hoping to add a fourth class of “ice boaters” to the event and nearly 50 participants are already interested.
Q: Where are some great places in Michigan to go ice sailing? What is your favorite place?
A: One of the best places is St. Ignace right near the Mackinaw Bridge and it really a great setting, but any frozen lake is great place to go.
Q: What are some of your other favorite winter activities?
A: I also enjoy snow kiting, skiing, snowboarding and skating.
Q: What do you love about a Michigan winter?
A: You can be active and still stay cool while doing winter activities.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do or place to go after a long day ice sailing?
A: Going in the Traditional Sauna that we had built on the ice in St. Ignace. When you’re done sailing for the day it feel s great to warm up and we bring the traditional, all wood sauna right out on the ice. We also have ice bowling out there too and it’s a lot of fun too.
By now, you probably know about a number of activities that can be done in Michigan during the wintertime – skiing, snowboarding, tubing, etc. Another lesser known activity to add to the list is ice climbing. With ice climbing being one of the activities featured in the Pure Michigan winter video series, we spoke with adventurer Lisa Nowak on what ice climbing in Michigan is all about.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into ice climbing? A: During my freshman year at Michigan State University I joined the Outdoors Club and it changed my life. Not only did the organization help me discover a passion for outdoor adventure, it’s where I made lasting friendships and met my husband. To afford gear, lodging, and gas for the many trips I took in college I flyered campus weekly and rounded up as many beginners as I could find to join me for the weekend adventures. Twelve years later, ice climbing ranks at the top of my list of favorite sports.
Q: What are some of your favorite winter activities? A: I enjoy downhill skiing, but if I can get away for a weekend, I’m usually going ice climbing. Sometimes this means I get to enjoy snowshoeing and/or winter camping as part of the ice climbing adventure. It’s been awhile, but I also have fond memories of sledding, skating, and ice fishing.
Q: What do you love about the Michigan outdoors in the winter? A: I love the variety of activities that are available to us in Michigan. Fresh air and the scent of pine is invigorating. Picking out animal tracks in the snow is fun. It’s easy to enjoy the outdoors when you’re dressed for the weather.
Q: For those who don’t know, what is ice climbing and who might like this sport? A: Ice climbing is similar to rock climbing. Climbers wear the same harness and use the same rope skills for setting anchors and belaying their partners. Instead of climbing rock, ice climbers ascend frozen waterfalls with specialized equipment. If you seek adventure and like winter, you will love ice climbing.
Q: Where in Michigan can you ice climb? Do you have some favorite places to ice climb? A: The Upper Peninsula has fantastic ice. Some climbs are located a couple hundred feet from where you parked the car. Others are nestled miles into the backcountry. Personally, I love climbing in the Munising area. The waterfalls tourists hike to in the spring become our playground in the winter. If I don’t have a weekend to commit to a trip up north, I head over to Peabody Ice Climbing Club in Fenton where there is a 45ft and a72ft tower of ice that offers many interesting climbs within an hour from my house in Lansing.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in trying ice climbing for the first time? A: Attend the Michigan Ice Festival (takes place the first weekend in February each year) in Munising. This three day festival is beginner friendly with tons of demo gear available to rent. They have beginner climbs safely rigged with the necessary ropes and staffed with belayers so you can walk up and climb. World class ice climbers teach dozens of clinics for those looking to develop technique.
If you can’t make it to the festival, hands on guidance can also be found at Peabody Ice Climbing Club in Fenton, MI where they offer rental and ice climbing instruction.
For experienced rock climbers looking to get into ice climbing, Downwind Sports is the go-to gear store in the U.P. They rent axes, boots, and crampons and sell an ice guide book to help you locate the climbs.
Q: What equipment is needed to start ice climbing? A: For starters, you need proper winter attire. The technical gear (ice axes, ice climbing boots, crampons, helmet, climbing harness, and sometimes snowshoes) can all be rented, but if you are cold and wet, you will be miserable. This means NO COTTON. Bulky gloves are not ideal for holding onto the axes so bring a second pair and swap back and forth. If the temperature is above freezing, a rain jacket is ideal. For cold weather, a down jacket is indispensable when you are waiting for your turn to climb.
Q: The sport looks like it could require some strength; do you recommend anyone try the sport?
A: If you have the endurance to jog a ½ mile and do 20 pushups, you are probably physically fit enough to try ice climbing. Ice climbs vary in difficulty; most beginners will start on a climb with a low incline until they are prepared for the challenge of vertical ice. Picture yourself swinging the axes into the ice and using the handles to hold onto for balance. They are not pull up bars. You use your feet to kick little steps into the ice and inch your way up like climbing a ladder.
Q: What is your favorite thing about ice climbing? A: I love the challenge. Each time I rope up for a climb, I am laser focused on the present. I have to carefully push my limits to grow and improve, and know when to back off to stay safe. There is no room for mindless chatter to creep into my thoughts like upcoming deadlines or wondering if I said the right things at my last work presentation. Ice climbing also takes me to breathtaking scenery that few people see.
Q: Does one particular ice climbing adventure stand out to you? Why? A: Two words: Agawa Canyon. While this place isn’t in Michigan, us Michiganders should be boasting about how close we are to this natural wonderland. In Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, fifteen friends and I hopped on a train heading north. Two hours past civilization, the train made a stop at a trestle nestled 600 ft deep inside a wide canyon lined with dozens of enormous ice climbs. Traveling by train means you can practically bring the kitchen sink. We were camping in sub-zero temps, but we filled our bellies with gourmet dinners, laughed while we sang songs around the campfire, and smiled thinking about the epic ice routes we had climbed. It was an incredible four days.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do after going ice climbing? A: Hanging out with friends around a hot fire with a bowl of chili in one hand and a microbrew in the other, makes the perfect ending to a day of ice climbing.
Lisa and Chris are Michigan natives who love to travel and play outdoors. Their passion for sports like ice climbing, rock climbing, kayaking, and backpacking has taken them all the way around the world, but they always find their way back home to Michigan. In their days of organizing trips for the Outdoors Club at MSU, Lisa estimates they have introduced more than 200 people to these adventure sports that are such an important part of their life.
The start of a new year means new goals and for many of us, getting in shape is on the list.
A Michigan winter provides the perfect terrain and scenery to get in shape outdoors while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. One activity that is great for families, beginners and experienced athletes alike is cross country skiing. You can burn up to 500 calories per hour while enjoying the peaceful Michigan winter landscape far away from the crowds at the gym.
Michigan cross country skiing trails stretch over 3,000 miles and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources grooms various state forest pathways to provide trails across the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas. It is also a great way to observe wildlife – from tracks in the snow to seeing birds and animals up close, it’s an experience that you can only get outdoors.
With cross country skiing being one of the many activities featured in A Pure Michigan Winter, we compiled a list of just a few trails to check out this winter. For a complete list of cross country skiing trails in Michigan, visit Cross Country Ski Trails in Michigan State Parks and Recreation Areas.
Cadillac Pathway has 11.3 miles of groomed trail with varying terrain that allow users to determine the length of trail and degree of difficulty they desire. Trailhead parking lots are located five miles northeast of Cadillac on 13th Street and on Seeley Road, north of Boon Road.
Bring your skis, snowshoes or just your hiking boots to Van Riper State Park for enchanted evenings of fun in the snow from 6-9 p.m. on Saturdays, Jan. 19 and Feb. 16. Experience the beautiful lit trail at Van Riper with your family and friends or make it a romantic date night. The trail will be lit from 6-9 p.m. For details, call the park, 906-339-4461. The park is located at 851 County Road AKE in Champion, Mich. 49814 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Enjoy an evening ski or snowshoe along a lantern-lit trail through the snow covered forests of the Upper Falls at Tahquamenon State Park during one of their Lantern-Lit Cross-country ski and strolls. Events take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Warm up by the bonfire with refreshments along the 1-mile loop. A limited number of snowshoes are available to borrow at no charge. Participants must provide their own cross country ski equipment. A headlamp is recommended during overcast evenings. Meet at the Upper Falls Fact Shack. The park is located at 41382 W. M 123 in Paradise, Mich., 49768 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For details, call 906-492-3415.
Pine Baron Pathway, southwest of Gaylord, provides beginners and intermediate skiers with nearly 9 miles of well-groomed trail that meanders through beautiful woods. The trailhead parking lot is located on Lone Pine Road. Three of the four loops are fairly level, and the remaining loop has several good downhill runs that will interest the intermediate skier.
Join other cross-country skiers for a magical winter evening from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 when the snow-covered forest at Hartwick Pines State Park is warmed by the glow of lantern light. Skiers can traverse the 1.25-mile, groomed cross-country trail, guided by more than 75 lanterns along the way. Meet at the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum. It is recommended that skiers be of intermediate skill to participate in this event.
Wildwood Hills Pathway, a three-looped trail covering approximately 9 miles of beautiful rolling hills in Indian River near Petoskey, offers a more challenging course for the intermediate skier.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, located on the south shore of Lake Superior near Silver City in Ontonagon County, is offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing by lantern light in late December, and on Saturday evenings in January and February. Nearly 80 old-fashioned kerosene lanterns will illuminate a 1-mile trail for a unique and memorable experience. Stop halfway around the loop at the warming shelter and join the park naturalist for a campfire and refreshments.
Blueberry Ridge, just south of Marquette, has the bumps for advanced skiers, the flats for beginners and is very well maintained. There are 12 miles of groomed trails. The three north loops have side-by-side diagonal-groomed tracks so people can ski next to each other. The 1.7-mile lighted central loop is groomed for both diagonal-stride and ski-skating, as are the south two loops.
Algonquin Pathway, located south of Sault Ste Marie on 16th Avenue West. This pathway has 15 km (9 miles) of groomed trail that is laid out in three loops. The 1.6 mile lighted trail is the first loop off the trailhead parking lot. This pathway straddles old beach ridges and passes through mixed-age aspen intermixed with pine and hardwood.
With the holidays coming to an end, it’s the perfect time of year to take a break and find ways to relax in Pure Michigan. We asked Shann Vander Leek, an internationally recognized life coach, about ways she finds relaxation and happiness in Michigan.
What’s your favorite way to relax? If it’s by spending a day being pampered, be sure to check out Spa | A Pure Michigan Winter in our winter video series.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself? A: I am an internationally recognized life coach, certified by the Coach Training Alliance. I partner with clients all over the world. I study Hatha yoga and am a Union Yoga, certified Yoga instructor.
I have a lifetime of professional experience as a successful broadcast media consultant, sales coach, leader, entrepreneur, business owner, marketing specialist, volunteer, voice over announcer, and life-skills trainer. I am a prolific reader, blogger and a published best selling author.
I love to engage individuals in compelling conversations that inspire them to play much bigger, and live fuller, more meaningful, and happier lives. I know engaged, fully expressed people leading purposeful lives have a big impact on the world. Life Coaching is one of the most powerful agents of positive human change.
I am happily married 20 years, with 1 amazing daughter, 1 mouthy Siamese cat, 1 spaz-face bunny, and a life full of people and places I am grateful for. I live with my family in the Village of Suttons Bay, where we spend our free time exploring Leelanau County. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is our weekend playground.
Q:The holidays are a stressful time for many people – what advice do you have to help people relax, unwind and rebalance after this hectic time? A: The best advice I can share is to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel. If you are stressed and exhausted, you deserve to rest and take care of yourself. When you ignore the signals from your body, you will get sick. Don’t wait until you are completely maxed-out to care for yourself. I suggest clearing the calendar of as many extra-curricular activities as possible in the month of January. Lighten your schedule and focus on self-care activities that you find relaxing.
We forget that we can give the most when we are well rested and living the lives we love. We can be the best partners, parents, business owners or colleagues when we are feeling nurtured, fulfilled, inspired and self-expressed. We can have the biggest impact on social and community changes when we are in balance.
Q: Are there any specific places that you like to enjoy relaxing activities?
A: I am a big fan of Pavlova European Salon and Spa in Traverse City. After the holidays I plan to enjoy a delightful European facial from Bonnie (my favorite Aesthetician). I practice Pilates at BE Pilates and Massage Studio, and schedule regular body work and massage therapy at Sacred Ways Healing Arts.
Q: What are some things that people can do to keep themselves balanced all year long?
A: 1. Discover Joy Spotting!
Make a luscious list of 5-10 things that bring you joy every day. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to journal your discoveries. My family and I often share our top five lists over dinner.
Here’s a few items from my luscious list for today:
The way my husband says “Good Morning Beautiful,” the sunrise over the bay, the twinkle of lights on our Christmas tree, listening to Phillip Phillip’s new album, being kind to a friend, delicious food, a (saved from our summer garden) Geranium with hot pink flowers, and finding the perfect present for my daughter.
2. Schedule time each day to be quiet.
As little as 5 minutes of quiet time can make a difference in your life. Simply close your eyes and breathe deeply several times to relax your mind. Find peace while listening to a guided relaxation like Transition to Calm that can be found on iTunes or Anxiety Slayer. If you work in a high-stress job, lunchtime can be a great time to escape from your responsibilities at work and claim some peace. Consider driving to the nearest body of water and enjoy your lunch break while watching the waves ebb and flow.
3. Move your body every day.
To stay in balance all year long you have to move your body. Walk your dog, go to the gym, take a yoga class, run, stretch, dance, play! Move your body in some way each day and you will sleep better, stay healthier, and free lower your level of stress.
4. Treat yourself to a special extravagance at least once a month.
This could be dinner and a movie, a massage, a weekend getaway, a chance to sleep in. Anything goes. You deserve something to look forward to at least once a month.
5. Make quality time for your family.
Create family traditions, eat dinner together, take time to really listen and learn more about the people you love the most in the world. Is there anything more important than bonding with your loved ones?
Three pitfalls to avoid at all costs…
1. Learn to say No.
We all tend to take on more responsibility than we should, which can create stress and take us away from living in the moment. Getting caught up in a cycle of ‘I have to’ vs. ‘I want to’ can be destructive. It is Okay to say no thank you.
2. Learn to set healthy boundaries with people.
Do what you can to stop yourself from getting tangled up in the daily drama of another person’s life. Caring doesn’t mean diving in to solve someone’s problems. Being a good listener and a fantastic hugger, is a much better use of your time and energy.
3. Identify and limit your time spent with “Energy Vampires.”
People who regularly rant, rave and complain about life, politics and work can tap out all of your positive energy. Steer clear of these folks whenever possible. Life if too short to spend time with negative people. If you must spend time with Energy Vampires, do your best to find some humor in their antics.
Implement these ideas and enjoy a balanced and fulfilling life after the holidays.
Q: Many people tend to get the winter blues or hibernate inside during the winter months – what are your recommendations to help with this?�
A: I used to suffer from the winter blues which are sometimes referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder. I made a few simple changes that have greatly improved my state of mind during the darkness of winter.
1. Get outside for at least 15 minutes on sunny days to treat your body to a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Add a D3 supplement and/or foods rich with Vitamin D3 to your diet. Vitamin D3 can be found in fortified milk, salmon, sardines, egg yolks etc. Vitamin D3 is a vitamin and a hormone that our bodies need to remain mentally balanced. Think about how good you feel when you soak up the sunshine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the health benefits of Vitamin D3.
2. Purchase a full spectrum light for your desk. The winter blues can be averted with full spectrum light therapy. These lamps are often on sale this time of year.
3. Relax and surrender to the slower pace of winter.
Q: What are some of your favorite winter activities?
A: I enjoy snowshoeing in the woods, hiking, and capturing images of the snowy shores of Lake Michigan. My husband enjoys snowboarding at Crystal Mountain with our daughter.
Q: What do you love about the Michigan in the winter?
A: Michigan winters are incredible. I love the snow covered landscapes and the quiet of the village after a fresh snowfall. I love knowing we can go sledding at Bahle Park and walk home to hot cocoa and roaring fire in the fireplace. We can choose to participate in the Friday night “live” events in Traverse City along with a full line up of winter concerts and festivals. The beautiful thing about Michigan in the winter is that you have loads of activities to choose from all season long.
Q: To you, what is “Pure Michigan”?
A: Pure Michigan based is the crushing beauty of my surroundings. The majesty of the forest. The gentle rolling farm land. The beauty, and bounty of the great lakes. The gorgeous seasonal landscapes. I could go on and on… I am blessed to live in northern Michigan, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Shann Vander Leek is a transformational life coach, Yogini, and author of Life on Your Terms. She is the founder of True Balance International, co-founder of Anxiety Slayer, and creator of the Transformation Goddess Experience. Unconventional and delightfully curious; she coaches professional women in transition to live life on their terms and create more balance in their lives through life coaching, self-care and creative expression. Visit Shann’s website at www.ShannVanderLeek.com for her free special report, Navigating Through Transition.
The first sign of winter weather means a variety of wintertime activities for kids and families to enjoy quality time outdoors. One of the most popular and well-known wintertime activities is sledding and snow tubing.
Similar to sledding, snow tubing has grown in popularity over the past few years, with some ski resorts offering slopes and hills specifically for the activity. Imagine yourself flying down a snowy hill, racing your friends or family members to the bottom, and taking in the scenic Michigan winter wonderland on your way back up to the top.
With snow tubing being one of the many activities featured in A Pure Michigan Winter, we compiled a list of just a few places to go tubing in Pure Michigan.
Do you have a favorite sledding or snow tubing hill that you want to share? Tell us in the comment section.
Timberlee Hills Snow Tubing at Timberlee Hills is the perfect way to spend the day in Traverse City this winter. Tubing at Timberlee is all the fun of sledding – without hiking back up the hill! There’s no hassle, huffing or puffing. Snow Tubing is one of the fastest growing winter recreational activities in America – and Timberlee is Michigan’s largest snow tubing hill. For more information visit their website.
Mount Zion Recreational Complex If you’re looking for affordable family tubing head to Mt. Zion in the Upper Peninsula! Mt. Zion is well known for very reasonable rates, their tubing park and learn to ski and snowboard programs. For more information visit their website here.
Gladstone Sports Park Another tubing spot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the Gladstone Sports Park. Known for their intermediate downhill ski area Gladstone also boasts a tubing area that includes three runs and the only return lift in the Upper Peninsula. For more information on the park contact email@example.com.
Treetops Resort Treetops Resort in Gaylord offers all of the amenities of a full service resort including skiing, snowboarding, a spa, and extreme tubing! Treetop’s extreme tubing run is adjacent to their ski slopes and offers a fun and exhilarating ride down the hills of Northern Michigan. For more information to start planning a family tubing trip see the website here.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area Snowtubing is a main attraction at the Hanson Hill Recreation Area. This 1000 acre winter/summer sports park features family recreation at reasonable rates including a terrain Park, 11 downhill skiing runs, 35 km cross-country skiing, snow tubing, biking, softball field, hiking & walking trails, and rental facilities. More information is available on their website here.
Boyne Highland and Boyne Mountain Boyne has two resorts in Michigan that feature some of the best tubing parks around. Take a break from a day of skiing and snowboarding for the most fun you have on have sitting down riding the tubing lanes! For more information visit the Boyne website.