Recreation & Sports

Legendary Ice Caves on Lake Michigan!

via Leelanau.com

mLive called out this incredible video by Tom Auch and George Meredith of the massive ice caves off the western shore of Leelanau County.

Getting to the formations is no easy task, he (Meredith) warned. Observers need to be careful about jagged terrain and ice alterations that could be dangerous. He suggested that some type of walking cleats are needed.

“You have to go out pretty far. That’s the rub,” he said. “You have ridges that you have to go around.”

Since news stations began reporting on the ice formations a couple of days ago, large numbers of people have come to see them.

“This is a once-in-a-decade natural beauty,” Meredith said. “Some of the caves literally have loft formations in them.”

They are located off Gills Pier about 7 miles north of Leelanau and the article includes a map. I feel compelled to add that Lake Michigan is deep, cold and dangerous so please use some common sense and buddy up!

Northern Lights predicted for Michigan tonight!

via leelanau.com

Aurora Borealis ... over 'the Narrows'

Aurora Borealis … over ‘the Narrows’ by Ken Scott

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:

CME on the way…Want to see the Northern Lights?

We have completed initial analysis of the CME associated with today’s X1 (NOAA Scale – R3) solar flare from Region 1944 (center disk) and have developed a forecast for a geoeffective event. Despite the CME not coming directly at Earth, a partial impact to the magnetic field that protects Earth is expected and a resulting geomagnetic storm as high as G3 (strong) levels is forecast to begin early to midday (UTC) on Thursday, 9 January (just after midnight to early morning hours EST).

It looks like we will have clearing late so you might want to set a 5 AM alarm! They also say that Friday night there’s a chance of aurora if we get clouded out! More aurora info at Space Weather.

You can view Ken’s photo bigger on Flickr and also check out an awesome time lapse from the October 2013 Northern Lights below!

Harvesting Michigan Beechnuts

Absolute Michigan is excited to share this article about a tasty treat you can find in the woods right now courtesy of the new eatdrinkTC website from Traverse City, Michigan. The site is dedicated to Traverse City’s exploding culinary scene and has a lot of great features including business listings, cooking classes, specials and great features like this one!

by Laura Herd, eatdrinkTC

Beechnut-in-shellI’ve been eating beechnuts off of the forest floor for as long as I can remember. I like to roast them and eat them on their own as a treat, so this season I collected a few extra beechnuts to bring back to my kitchen. Read on for lots of beech nut facts, videos and a photo gallery and how to prepare a tasty snack!

From the Hiker’s Notebook:

Beechnuts are encased in a woody husk that is covered with spines, each containing  two irregularly triangular shiny brown edible nuts. They are only produced after the beech has reached the age of about 40 years; annual beechnut production ramps up at this point to reach maximum yields after at about the 60 year point. 

Sunset on Mackinac

Stephanie of Stephanie Stevens Photography recently added a few timelapses from Mackinac Island to the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. About her incredible timelapse of Mackinac Island harbor at sunset, she writes:

Hour & a halfish time lapse of Mackinac Island as the sun goes down, with ferries coming & going, horse carriages & bicycles on the streets, people in the park, & even some glowing Frisbees. :)

Watch it in HD and definitely check out Stephanie’s Flickr, her photography site and also a timelapse of stars at Arch Rock. More from Mackinac on Absolute Michigan.

Stay Safe in the Great Lakes!

Information from Great Lakes Waves offer beauty, power & danger on Michigan in Pictures…

Every year the Great Lakes claim the lives of dozens of swimmers, boaters & surfers. Here are some tips for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!

DSC01071P
Untitled by Scott Glenn

Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack  incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.

Frankfort Winter Surfing
Frankfort Winter Surfing by lomeranger

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)

Kayaking
Kayaking by Clarkston SCAMP

Life jackets can save your life.  U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.

Cold Lake Michigan
Cold Lake Michigan by GLASman1

Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.

Lake Michigan Memorial
Lake Michigan Memorial by kmoyerus

Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.

Choppy Channel......
Choppy Channel…… by smiles7

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.

"September Gale"  Grand Haven Breakwater Lighthouse is located in the harbor of Grand Haven, Michigan
“September Gale” Grand Haven Breakwater Lighthouse by Michigan Nut

The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.

Tubing on Lake Michigan
Tubing on Lake Michigan by Steve Gifford – IN

Stay safe and have fun – treated with respect the Great Lakes are a safe and fun playground for all ages!

Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!

Michigan Walleye & Walleye Season

Walleye season opens today in Michigan (May 15 – March 15), so here’s a little bit about this tasty sport fish. The Michigan DNR page on walleye (Sander vitreus) explains that they are the largest member of the perch family:

Walleye Glory Days by UpNorth Memories
Walleye Glory Days by UpNorth Memories

They lack the distinctive vertical bar makings of the yellow perch and have fan-like canine teeth. These battling fish are exciting to catch, delicious to eat and because they feed actively all winter, they provide a fine year-round sport fishery.

…Walleyes are greedy predators. They eat small bass, trout, pike, perch and sunfishes. Prime feeding times are early morning and evening. Although in turbid waters walleyes are active throughout the day. Walleyes often associate with yellow perch, smallmouth bass, northern pike and muskellunge.

In April and May, walleyes spawn over rock shoals. Males mature at age two to four years, females at three to six years. The average walleye caught by anglers is three years old and weighs from one to three pounds. Northern pike and muskellunge prey heavily on walleyes, while yellow perch, smallmouth bass and lake whitefish compete with walleyes for food.

We found a nice list of the top 10 walleye lakes in Michigan. They say that experts believe Holloway Reservoir in Genessee County holds the most walleyes per surface acre of any lake in Michigan. One reason – something you can use when fishing for walleye – is that the movement of the water attracts baitfish which in turn attracts walleye.

If you’re in the Saginaw area this weekend, you can check out the Michigan Walleye Tour tourney on Saginaw Bay. There’s also the Marbleye Classic on the St. Clair River (May 18-20).

If you manage to land any of these tasty fish, you’ll want to cook them up. MyNorth.com has a great recipe for Roasted Lake Michigan Walleye with Fennel – a perfect way to appreciate the delicious flavor of walleye! In closing, here’s a video of fish at the Port Huron Water Intake that opens with a nice walleye!

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    North Country Dreamland: Northern Lights and the skies of Northern Michigan

North Country Dreamland: Northern Lights and the skies of Northern Michigan

I am going to guess that the video below is the most incredible thing you will see today, and quite likely for many days. There’s lots more about photographer Shawn Stockman Malone of Lake Superior Photo and this project below, but first please settle back, click the full screen view at the bottom right and enjoy her amazing video, North Country Dreamland.

North Country Dreamland from LakeSuperiorPhoto on Vimeo.

Walking on the Beach with Loreen Niewenhuis

“I’d rather do 20 miles on soft sand than 10 miles on the side of the road. There is something about being where water meets land. I feel very clicked-in there. I feel like I can go forever.”

~Loreen Niewenhuis

USA Today has a feature on Loreen Niewenhuis, a Battle Creek resident who has hiked a good deal of the shorelines of all the Great Lakes. As to why, she explains:

“Our older son had gone off to college. The nest was emptying. I’d gotten my” master’s of fine arts degree … “but I felt I could stack up novels and not have an agent and be in my office writing novels forever,” says Niewenhuis, 49. “So I thought, let me do something completely different and get out of my office.”

So she put on her hiking boots. She got out the office.

Boy, did she ever.

Click through to read more about her journey and what she learned along the way. You can keep up with Lorraine’s latest including a planned walk on 1000 of Michigan islands on her Facebook page and at laketrek.com.

This photo is “Footprints”, Twelvemile Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by Michigan Nut. Twelve Mile is certainly one of the state’s best beaches. See John’s photo out on black and see more in his My Favorites slideshow.

Lakes MichiganHuronSuperior & Erie? Michigan in Pictures has them and all kinds of beach photos!

Invasive Lobsters overrun Lake Michigan Coast

EMPIRE, MICHIGAN APRIL 1, 2013 – Residents of the sleepy Michigan shoreline villages of Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland were surprised as they awoke to see the Lake Michigan beach covered with the latest Great Lakes invasive species to threaten our shores, lobsters.

Dr. Molly Trapp, director of Michigan Sea Grant’s new Invasive Species Rapid Response team (ISRR), is heading the team and was one of the first to arrive on the scene. “There are a variety of ways that invasive species enter the Great Lakes,” Dr. Trapp explained. “Many come in in ballast water of freighters are are dumped, while others are pets that people release when they can no longer care for them. That’s likely what happened here, and I just wish people would think a little bit before they take on the responsibility of an exotic pet.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Under Superintendent in Charge of Beach Security, Stan Daround offered comment as well, “We want to assure everyone that we remain the most beautiful place in America despite this crustacean invasion. Park staff is working on a plan to combat this menace.”

lobster-dinnerWhile Mr. Daraound was unable to provide specifics, he offered that the Park would probably be asking for “a lot of bibs and some of those claw cracker things” in their emergency appropriation request.

The village of Empire, already overtaxed preparing for their annual Asparagus Festival next month, has called all residents to an emergency eating in the Empire Town Hall at 6 PM.

Area resident Michael Buhler offered a simple plea: “Send butter.”

For more on invasive species in the Great Lakes (including actual facts) visit Michigan Sea Grant’s Invasive Species pages.

The impact of record low Great Lakes levels

This post originally appeared on Michigan in Pictures.

Low water levels, West Arm Grand Traverse BayOn Michigan in Pictures I usually blog beautiful things, but today I’m featuring an ugly thing that we in Michigan should all be concerned about. Traverse City based Circle of Blue has an in-depth feature on the record-low level of Lake Michigan-Huron:

The latest numbers released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 5 show that both lakes Michigan and Huron — which are two connected lakes — are experiencing their lowest point since records began in 1918. Water levels were an average of 175.57 meters (576.02 feet) for the month of January, approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) lower than the previous record set in 1964.

“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the Corps, in a press release. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below-average levels since 1918 for that lake.”

The low water levels, which the Corps attributes to: below-average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, last summer’s drought, and above-average evaporation during the summer and fall of 2012, have the potential to hurt the Great Lakes’ shipping industry.

…For the water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron to reach even near-average water levels again, the Corps said it will take many seasons with above average precipitation and below-average evaporation.

Read on at Circle of Blue for much more including the struggles that wildlife are having with the changing climate. You can also view the release from the Army Corps of Engineers and see historic Great Lakes levels back to 1918. From the Army Corps, I learned that at 1 1/2 ft below normal, ships are losing 8-10% of their carrying capacity.

Beyond harm to the multi-billion dollar shipping industry which feeds countless industrial endeavors, the low lake levels are making many of our recreational harbors inaccessible. These feed our multi-billion dollar sport fishing industry and  this has prompted Gov. Snyder to endorse a $21 million emergency dredging plan, $11 million of which would come from Michigan’s general fund. With over a half a million jobs in Michigan alone tied to the health of the Great Lakes, getting a handle on the threats that impact them are likely to be at the center of our policy and spending for a long time.

In a curious bit of synchronicity, you can see just how vital the Great Lakes are to Michigan in Michigan Sea Grant’s reports on Economic Vitality and the Great Lakes. View this photo bigger and see more in their Grand Traverse Bay Low Water slideshow.

Lots more Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.