Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mackinac Island in the Winter

In Front of the Grand Hotel

This is my first post ever on crossing Lake Huron in the wintertime on snowmobiles to get to Mackinac Island. We determined we've done this trip 5 times. However, we haven't crossed since I started this blog in July of 2011. There hasn't been a safe ice bridge, or any ice bridge at all, in the past few years. But this year was different. In some cases the cold temps come in handy! We did this trip on February 18, a Tuesday, when things weren't so busy and the weather, as well as the ice bridge, was perfect.

Oh, and I can't take all the credit for these photos. Steve had the camera most of the day and that was fine with me or there probably wouldn't have been any pics of us STOPPING on the ice to pose. No matter how many times you tell me the ice is safe enough to ride on, I will not totally believe you. No matter how much I love you.

As I said the day was perfect and so were the trails getting to St. Ignace. Smooth as a pancake...

And the night before we had received a fresh coating of snow.

Here we are crossing Lake Huron on the ice bridge. The ice bridge is lined with Christmas trees. There was a southern bridge and a northern bridge. On our way to the island we took the northern bridge. The island is up ahead.

St. Ignace in the Background

I'm looking for open water, pressure cracks, and people who may be waving at us to go back.

Just kidding.

Let's go, Steve!


We left our home which is A. Snowmobiled to St. Ignace which is B. And crossed the ice bridge over Lake Huron to C and then vice versa.

On Mackinac Island.
You can drive completely around the island. 
When the snow is gone, the trail is a foot and bike path.

This is an old lodge that was left empty for years. It has since been bought and is being renovated.

Mission Point Resort all closed up for the winter.

Main street

The fort up on the hill.

An empty marina.

A few horses left on the island.

And a tractor...

Whaaat? And a snowplow?

(In general, motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island except in the event of necessity. Snowmobiles are allowed.)

Those aren't our snowmobiles.

And neither is that one.

Construction of a new hotel.

Huge snow banks block what is usually the sidewalk and entrance to Sheplers ferry dock..

The sun is getting lower.

Lots of visiting snowmobilers. One local said since the ice bridge became safe, they have been so busy on the weekends and compared the busyness to tourist season in July.

Not everyone on a snowmobile is a visitor. This is the school and the snowmobile parking lot.

Round Island Lighthouse
Ships still pass between Mackinac Island and Round Island.

Mackinac Bridge in the background.

Yes, I dared to stop and wave at Steve.

Heading back to St. Ignace. Following the Christmas trees. This time we took the southern route and encountered some slushy areas.

I did not like that.

The Grand Hotel in the background.

My mom and I stayed there last October.

It was a wonderful winter day!

FYI: If you ever want to attempt this trip, I strongly urge you to check with the locals before crossing. Also, always plan in advance and pick a day when no snow is predicted or any other type of precipitation. The weather can change on a dime and you need to see from tree to tree. Also, I would suggest taking a compass in case you do run into trouble. You don't want to get any where near the shipping lanes. There are two restaurants opened on the island during the winter and they are each on a side street off of main street and just a block apart: The Village Inn and The Mustang.

Four days after Steve and I took this trip, we heard from fellow snowmobilers that they had attempted to go to the island that morning and had chosen the northern ice bridge. On their way to the island, they encountered a large slush area with an abandoned snowmobile stuck in the slush. They turned around and did not recommend the trip.

If you would like to read about recent Mackinac Island experiences (the ice bridge and the landing of a plane on the ice due to mechanical issues) go to fellow blogger and Mackinac Island resident Liz's blog titled The Quilted Turtle. Scroll down and read her interesting stories.

If you want to read about Mackinac Island in the summer, check out this post, or this one, or this one.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful Pictures and very interesting. Looks like fun but too cold for us. S V D

Debi said...

Thx mom VD! :)