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.
13 thoughts on “Ice caves”
A. Ma. Zing. What a wonderful, unforgettable winter adventure!
Wow, that looks incredible!
What an adventure.
Absolutely breathtaking. I don’t think I could brave temps like that, but how awesome. And what a wonderful memory for your family. 🙂
Holy cow. Gorgeous photos. Simply stunning.
Amazing! I’m so glad you went for it!
I second the strong recommendation–this is an amazing gem of nature that should not be missed. On the day we went this year, the temps were in the high 30s and an outdoor picnic was in order. We definitely got a workout, hiking at least 5-6 miles roundtrip. Thanks for the lovely pix.
Amazing, wasn’t it? We were lucky enough to park in the lot. I think my folks hiked around 3.5 miles, the kids and I maybe 5. Good stuff. So blessed to have had the chance to see them! Glad you did, too.
Totally cool and even cooler that your kids got to experience it with their grandparents. What a fantastic memory it will be for them, especially if it might be a once in a lifetime event. Awesome pictures!
is it really not too late. i thought we probably waited too long to try and go. might have to skip school one day this week and make it happen….peace.
We met a family out in the caves who had pulled their kids out of school for the day to visit. This is better than school! the kids (and adults) were enthusiastically reporting. Do it!
Oh my gosh, this is so unbelievably beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Wow!! That is simply amazing. And so cool (hah! sorry) that your kids got to experience this once in a lifetime event. Honesty, I think if I was there I’d just spend most of it falling on my butt 🙂 hehe