The past week of travel took us up the North Shore of Lake Superior to visit friends, knit by the fire, and explore. Then we doubled back and headed up the South Shore along Wisconsin's northernmost edge.
After Minnesota's mind-blowingly deep snow and below zero temps, it was Wisconsin' turn. To the ice caves!
I suppose the message was: "embrace the season you're in."
Or: "go big or go home (winter)."
Winter went for it.
All. The. Way. (Including frozen pipes in our cabin. Yea, winter! Way to pull out all the stops.)
But truly. It was incredible. Unforgettable.
Winter made more beautiful than I ever imagined.
The ice caves are mainland "sea" caves along the red sandstone cliffs of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In summer they can be accessed by boat. In winter? Not at all.
Except during rare winters when the big lake freezes.
By volume Lake Superior is the third largest lake on earth and all that water hovers at approximately 39 F water temps rear round. (Once a naturalist, always a naturalist!) Except during winters like this. Crazy, cold, never-ending weeks of sub-zero F temps.
Even so, many suspect this could be our last chance to hike to these caves. Because of global warming and the slow, steady rise of Superior's water temperature, it might not freeze like this again. Ever.
It was now or never.
So we went for it.
Even my seventy-some year old parents met us there and braved the three-plus mile round trip hike on an icy lake to see this magnificent sight. I was amazed and awed by them both, trucking across the snow for miles to see the caves with us. They completely rocked it.
What an amazing day.
We crawled on our bellies and slid on our knees, we went under and over and through and in, we saw ice formations in shapes and colors and textures and places we never could have imagined.
It took our breath away.
If you live within a five hour drive of far northern Wisconsin and aren't opposed to a winter hike, I strongly recommend it.
You can find details about the caves (including ice conditions and closings due to weather) here.
And with that, dear winter, we're through.
Pack your bags.
I'm officially ready for spring.