Ice Cave Exploration

This is why, we can’t have nice things…

So, a while back I took a few trips out to the overly published ice caves off of Leelanau County. Well, actually I took 3 trips. Two to my location, and 1 to the ones that the news couldn’t keep their cameras out of which are north of Leeland. I have to say that the Leeland caves were interesting, however there were so many people out there that they destroyed most of the natural beauty. This also happened at my preferred shooting location sometime between the first and second visit. But alas, I shall tell the tale of my visits.

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Carefully crossing the ice field.

On the first day…

I had heard rumors of ice cave formations on the west coast of Leelanau County, so my interest was peaked. I never usually like going where or when there are flocks of people present to anything. This includes parts of Sleeping Bear Lakeshore. So I looked at a map and picked a prime location with easy access that would have the same wave effects upon it. I meet up with a fellow photographer and our significant others and after an eternity in a science and optics shop in Sutton’s Bay,  we ventured out to the lake. We arrived, found a place to park and wondered out. Being equipped with my old mountaineering snowshoes I felt confident that I would maintain traction on the deadly slick ice. Actually the first thing that we saw out there was a man cracking the back of his skull on the ice.  So much care was then added to the crossing. We located a bridge-like structure that allowed us access out to the outer ridge of the ice.  After some exploring we came across some interesting structures including some caves that you could venture into if you dared. DSC_7696After some more wondering we found the way out on to the lake ice. I must specify that there is a difference in ice, just as Alaskan natives have many names for snow ice is as diverse. The ice which is close to shore is weaker, whiter, and made from a combination of good solid ice and wash over from the waves. This is what the caves formed from, and is the slick, rough, deadlier potion. Then there is the lake ice, where it has frozen solid. It is out a little ways and is generally very flat, strong, and safe-er. This lake area ice is easier to traverse and where I prefer to walk.

Windows, everywhere…

Window pane formations.

Window pane formations.

The first thing to catch my eye when I was out onto the flat lake ice were these window pane formations. They were upward formations of the ice which were mostly clear. Some where thin, others were fairly thick.

Jarad shooting through the ice.

Jared shooting through the ice.

They seemed to form where the ice had cracked and then resealed. They were beautiful, and to capture a good shot was my priority. I snapped this to show what they were. They proved to be somewhat difficult to show off, so I put them off to be shot later. We first ventured to the south a ways, then back to the north. where we found some of the most remarkable sights yet. There were patches of the ice which you could see straight to the bottom of the lake. We spent a fair amount of time trying to get the correct exposure, angle, and use of polarizing lenses to cut through the glare and see to the bottom. There seemed to be somewhere between 12 and 24 inches of ice we were standing on, and the lake seemed to be 12 feet deep. Cracks were visible going down through the ice, and therefore we could tell the distance. Sadly there were no fish to view.

 We continued north…

A wave of ice.

A wave of ice.

Past the clear ice we came upon some wave-like formations. From what I can tell these were formed by wave action creating then eroding the undersides away in their image. They faced the lake and looked as to be waves of ice coming from shore. As The Sun set I could not resist framing it into the ice formation. As it dropped in the sky the temperatures did as well. My companions were not as prepared for this so we had to make our way off of the ice and back to the warmth of the vehicles.  This concluded the first ice cave adventure.

 

 

 

Please follow for more on the ice caves, this will be a two-part post! With more impressive images!

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-JC

 

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