It’s Not Too Late for the Party: Day-Tripping to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Kat at travelgardeneat:

The Apostle Islands Ice Caves open today! I published three posts on our day there last year, if you are interested in trekking tips and photos. Ice cleats or something similar are essential this year!
Ciao! ~ Kat

Originally posted on Travel. Garden. Eat.:

Winter Sunrise on Lake Sperior ~ Duluth, Minnesota

Getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning just about killed this night owl, but I was determined to view the ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore before it was too late.  Lake Superior is a moody, unpredictable body of water, and the ice is unlikely to remain stable for foot traffic for much longer, as we optimistically hope that signs of Spring start to appear in the month ahead.

Meyers Beach Road ~ Parking at Apostle Islands Ice Caves  Meyers Beach Road ~ Parking at Apostle Islands Ice Caves

It has been an amazing year for the ice caves, with an estimated 78,000 people visiting a natural wonder that has not been accessible for winter foot traffic since 2009.  The parking lot at the entrance to the ice caves quickly fills, and the .4 mile length of Meyers Beach Road connecting the parking lot to Highway 13 incrementally adds walk distance and time to your trip.  Given the weekend crowds, we wanted our time at the ice…

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Wordless Wednesday: Blue Skies Smiling At Me

Blue Skies Smiling at Me

Ciao! ~ Kat

Afternoon Dose of Vitamin D

Breaking free from cabin fever seems to have been the theme this month with some of my fellow northern bloggers.  Earlier this month, Heather from “Our Adventures Up North” expressed the frustration of these often gray winter days, in this post, while Kathy of “Lake Superior Spirit” shared deep-winter thoughts from her side of the Big Lake, here, along with photos of the impressive ice fields resulting from the extended cold temperatures.

Saturday was a window of opportunity of sunshine and warmer temps for many of us craving them, and I was not alone in getting outside to soak up the much-needed Vitamin D.  Heather also enjoyed the beauty of the frozen outdoors on Saturday, from the shores of a different Great Lake, Lake Michigan (enjoy her writing and photos in her post, “A Day in the Sun.”)

Ellingson Island, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park houses both the historic site with the Lighthouse and a lovely set of trails and scenic campsites year-round.  Ellingson Island is located a short distance from the shoreline trail, and only seasonally accessible to foot travel.  In all the years of living in northern Minnesota and exploring Split Rock’s park and trails, I had never wandered onto the island itself.  While I noted the footprints crossing the frozen bay to the island, I initially took the conservative path where the points of land were closest to each other (as seen in the last photo).

Rounding the southern side of the island, the vast frozen expanse of Lake Superior stretched seemingly forever.

View from Split Rock's Ellingson Island

I shared with you a photo of my handsome outdoor companion in this week’s response to the Daily Post’s photo challenge, “Rule of Thirds.” While clambering over the snow- and ice-covered rocky shoreline on the eastern side of the island, we were provided an elevated view of the frozen bay extending to the iconic Lighthouse. Animal and human tracks criss-crossed the ice, creeping much closer to open water than I dared.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior

The icicles sparkled in the changing light, as the sun moved across the sky.

Icicles on Ellingson Island, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Corbin and I had planned to make a short stop at Split Rock before driving further up the North Shore to Temperance River or Tettegouche State Park, but we instead found ourselves enjoying a leisurely hike and simply appreciating the frozen beauty surrounding us.

Split Rock Framed by Icicles

The sun sank lower and shadows grew long.

Silhouettes by Split Rock

Soon, the sky began to glow a soft pink and purple with the sunset, and the forecasted return of bitter cold could already be felt in the air again.

Winter Sunset by Ellingson Island

“She felt an enveloping happiness to be alive, a joy made stronger by the certainty that someday it would all come to an end. Afterward she felt a little foolish, and never spoke to anyone about it. Now, however, she knows she wasn’t being foolish. She realizes that for no particular reason she stumbled into the core of what it is to be human. It’s a rare gift to understand that your life is wondrous, and that it won’t last forever. ” ~ Steven Galloway, The Cellist of Sarajevo

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

My muse for the “rule of thirds” photo challenge … while enjoying a winter hike on Ellingson Island at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

Faithful Companion at Split Rock

Blue skies, warm sun …. even 15°F (-9°C) feels warm after a stretch of sub-zero days!  With another round of brutally cold wind chills and temperatures settling in this evening, a few hours outdoors was just what the spirit needed.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Rule of Thirds” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Sub-Zero Fun in Minnesota

Kat at travelgardeneat:

Sub-zero temps this week warrant a look back at last year’s sub-zero fun with boiling water.

Originally posted on Travel. Garden. Eat.:

When the never-ending sub-zero temperatures keep knocking at your door, you sometimes simply need to fling open the door and say, “let’s party!”  As the air warmed up to a balmy –14°F (-25.5°C) on Monday, just a few degrees off the warmest temperature of the day, I decided the home office afternoon coffee break needed to take place outdoors.  The arctic blast prompted Minnesota’s Governor to cancel Monday classes for schools throughout the State.  With no sign of above-zero temperatures until Wednesday, most Minnesota schools have canceled classes for students on Tuesday, as well.

Balmy Duluth temperatures

In the meantime, I decided to recruit one of my teens as my assistant for the outdoor coffee break activities.  The local hardware store told me soap bubbles were a popular item, so I knew we were not alone in examining their response to the frigid air.

Soap bubbles in sub-zero temps

While our results were not as spectacular as photographer

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