We Yoopers are a resilient lot. We go about our business, even as the snow piles up, even in incredibly cold weather.
A string of days with temperatures in the double-digit below zero category - and wind chills in the minus 50 range - was brutal for even the most experienced Upper Peninsula resident.
That's why we say we might as well take advantage of what nature hath wrought and take part in the Michigan Ice Festival in Alger County this weekend. After all, Mother Nature's deep freeze has made for ideal ice conditions this winter, just in time for this annual event.
The festival will offer demos, classes and slide shows, with Sydney's Shark Bay Bar in Munising as the headquarters, and the climbing taking place in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The ice climbing demonstrations are set for Saturday and Sunday.
The event's website, michiganicefest.com posts: "Over the years, ice climbers have developed a great relationship with the park service in regards to ice climbing within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The park service has even developed their own ice climbing brochure available at the visitor's center. The park service has set forth the following rules and regulations to help preserve this beautiful lakeshore."
- Munising Falls is closed to climbing due to hazardous rock fall.
- Do not park along Sand Point Road.
- Please park in the designated parking lot at the end of Sand Point Road.
Festival organizers offer a free shuttle to and from the demo area to help minimize the parking problem along Sand Point Road. The shuttle departures are from Sydney's Restaurant, The Curtains (the climbing site) and the Sand Point Road parking area. The shuttle departs every half hour from Sydney's.
For more information on the events, visit the michiganicefest.com website.
While we are on the subject of ice, those who cannot get to the festival can always make a trip to Eben to visit the renowned Eben Ice Caves, located in the Rock River Wilderness area of the Hiawatha National Forest.
The Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau website offers this set of directions to the caves from Marquette: Starting in downtown Marquette, travel south on U.S. 41 and M-28 approximately 5 miles to the stoplight in Harvey. Proceed south on U.S. 41 toward Escanaba. Travel south on U.S. 41 approximately 12 miles to M-94. Make a left hand turn on M-94 and travel east. Continue east on M-94 for approximately 12 miles to Eben and the junction of M-94 and Eben Road. The New Moon Bar is on the left and the Superior Central School is on the right. Make a left hand turn and travel north to Frey Road, approximately 11/2 miles and make a right hand turn onto Frey Road. Travel approximately 1/2 mile east on Frey Road until coming to a curve which is the spot to stop.
To get to the caves, walk east across a large field to find the trail about one mile in. Use of snowshoes or cross country skis is suggested for easy travel on the snow.
We hope those who have been lamenting the harshness of this winter are able to take part in the Michigan Ice Festival and/or able to visit the Eben Ice Caves. That kind of fun will make the frigid weather a bit easier to bear.