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Category Archives: Bayfield

Bayfield, Wisconsin is a bustling place in the summer but things are generally slow during the winter. We stopped in Bayfield after the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race to have lunch with some friends. After lunch I walked around town taking some photos.

Just after lunch we walked out into the harbor and noticed that the Island Queen ferry was returning from Madeline Island. Normally this time of year there would be an ice road between Bayfield and Madeline Island. A few weeks ago there was almost enough ice but winds blew the ice out and I noticed that someone had posted a photo of open water with a pine tree floating on a chunk of ice. The locals use pine trees to mark the ice road and I noticed that it was marked again but the ice is not thick enough to hold a car.

Island Queen

Island Queen

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Fishing Boats

Fishing Boat

We drove down to look at the sail boats all parked on land for the winter. There was also a Coast Guard Boat and members of the Coast Guard getting ready for some winter water rescue training.

Sail Boats

Sail Boats

Coast Guard Boat

Coast Guard Boat

Coast Guard Water Training

Coast Guard Water Training

I have seen the Hack Noyes in Superior, Wisconsin. It is a Wisconsin DNR research vessel that is at winter layup in Bayfield.

Hack Noyes

Hack Noyes

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Last weekend we took a roundabout road trip to the 2015 Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races. Our first stop was at ABR in Ironwood, Michigan for a half day of skiing. The next morning we were up early so we could make it to the races before the 10am start. As usual we were early and had plenty of time to wander around and look at the prerace activities. We were fortunate that we were early because we had to make a couple of trips back to the car for extra cloths. While the air temperature was around twenty degrees there was a strong wind that made it a bit cool.

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We had a chance to check the dogs out before they became excited about getting hooked up to the sleds. Many of them had eaten and seemed to be relaxing before the race.

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Many of the mushers already had their sleds out and were getting ready to hook the dogs up to the sleds.

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As with just about every place in Wisconsin there was a lack of snow. This was the first time that I’ve been at the race where they had to haul snow to the parking lot so the sleds could make it to the starting line without running on gravel.

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As with any sled dog race it requires many volunteers to get the teams to the starting line. This group reminded me of the typical group of tourists following the leader holding a flag. They were heading out to the teams to assist the mushers to the starting line. It takes five or six people to get the eight dog teams to the starting line.

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This was one of the first teams to head out onto the course. The dogs were overly excited and became all tangled up just before they were given the signal to go. One of the handlers was trying to get the dogs straightened out when the team took off and the handler ended up on the ground. The dogs were still tangled up but the musher was able to get the lead dog headed in the right direction using voice commands.

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Unfortunately this team did not make it through the race. They had a problem on the first turn and the musher was injured. They had to send a snowmobile out to pick him up and someone had to bring the team back to the starting point.

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After photographing from near the starting gate I walked down the course a ways to photograph from a different position. I have to say this is the first time I’ve seen a musher smoking a cigarette either before or during a race. My wife was at the starting gate when he started. She said he was trying to light the cigarette in the wind when the team started.

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After photographing out on the course for a while I wandered back toward the starting gate to photograph some more mushers starting the race.

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I then moved up to the starting line to watch the teams being brought into the starting gate. I believe this girl was 8 years old and had a team of two dogs. The announcer said that she got an early start to racing because her mother was racing when she was six months pregnant with the little girl. The musher listed her day job as a student.

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The final musher of the day has raced in this race a number of times and his entire team consists of dogs rescued from shelters.

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After the race we met up with some friends that had moved from Menomonie to Cornucopia, Wisconsin. We talked for a while and planned on having lunch but it started to rain just after the race finished. We decided to head to Duluth before the roads turned bad. As it turned out the rain stopped after about a half an hour and the sun came out.

Many more photos from the first day of the race can be found on my website.

Apostle Islands Ice Caves:

Normally I’m complaining about the lack of a good winter but this year we have had a fantastic winter. Every winter I look forward to photographing the Apostle Island Ice Caves but this is the first year since 2009 that they have been accessible from the ice on Lake Superior. I was very surprised when I checked  the middle of January and found that the ice caves were already open. Normally they don’t open until January but with the cold weather they were early this year.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471a

We immediately drove up to Cornucopia to visit the caves. This was followed by two other visits to the caves. We weren’t the only ones visiting the caves. Thanks to social media more than 140 thousand people visited the caves before they closed in mid March.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1672

In-spite of the large number of people visiting the caves I was able to get some great photos and, for the first time, my wife was able to visit the caves. As you can see by the number of blogs I wrote on the subject this was my favorite winter activity.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-3-_0983

Bald Eagle Watching:

The cold weather has been a boon for Bald Eagle watching since it concentrated the eagles in areas where there was open water. This winter we spent time visiting three locations along the Mississippi River to watch Eagles. Our most productive location was Covill Park in Red Wing, Minnesota where we always saw eagles. There were also a large number of ducks that provided entertainment when the eagle watching slowed down. The water is always open below the heating plant above Covill Park so the eagles and ducks hang out in this area.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_1996

The second best location was Reads Landing in Minnesota. On three occasions we saw large numbers of Eagles at this location. We also saw Trumpeter Swans that were hanging out in this section of the river. Viewing at this location slowed down as the winter progressed.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_0599

Alma, Wisconsin was the least productive area we visited. We only saw a significant number of eagles on one visit. On several other visits we didn’t see any eagles or only saw a few. I found this a difficult area to photograph eagles because you are usually looking into the sun.Bald-Eagle-14-1-_2164

I wrote a number of blogs describing our visits to these locations.

Trumpeter Swans Watching:

We made a number of trips to Hudson, Wisconsin to watch the Trumpeter Swans. Several people had mentioned that Trumpeter Swans hung out on the St. Croix river but didn’t know the exact location. We eventually found them in downtown Hudson.Trumpeter-Swan-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1125

Because of the very cold weather they were hanging out it a very small area of open water close to shore during the coldest part of the winter. You could walk down along the shore and photograph them and they didn’t seem to be the least concerned with your presence.Trumpeter-Swans-Hudson-Wisconsin-14-2-_1176

These trips resulted in several blogs reporting on our visits.Trumpeter-Swans-14-2-_0592

Lake Superior Ship Watching:

The very cold weather resulted in a lot of ice on Lake Superior. The early ice made for some great opportunities to photograph ships in the cold weather. One of my favorite year around activities is ship watching in Duluth and Superior Harbors so being able to photograph them working in ice was a great adventure.

Baie Cormeau

Baie Cormeau

We were able to watch ships arrive in the harbor during the very cold winter.

Baie Comeau

Baie Comeau

The Coast Guard Cutters were very active this winter and I was able to see them in action as they were breaking the ice and anchored in the harbor.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Tug Boats were also required to help break the ice when the Coast Guard was not available.

Helen H

Helen H

A large number of ships are in the Duluth/Superior docks either being repaired or for winter layup.

American Spirit

American Spirit

The long winter will continue into spring as the ice breakers are working to free the harbor of ice and the ships in layup are waiting to head out for the 2014 shipping season. The season should start in the next couple of weeks.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

 

Rush River Ice Formations:

I discovered the Rush River Ice Formations this winter. What a wonderful place to visit. A local land owner has run piping around his property tapping into underground springs. At about two dozen locations on the property he has run vertical pipes with holes drilled into them. The result are some spectacular ice formations.Nelson's-On-the-Rush-River-14-1-_1918

Long Ski Season:

For the second year in a row we have been blessed with a lot of snow. The difference this year is that the ski season started at Thanksgiving and has continued into March. With a little luck we should be able squeeze in at least one more ski trip this year.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1375

Our favorite location this year was the ABR Ski Trails because they usually receive early snow and they do the best job of grooming of any ski location. They are usually able to have good skiing even after warm weather because they have equipment to break up the trail in icy conditions and lay a new track.ABR-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1183

We also skied at The After Hours Ski Trails in Brule a number of times this year. This is a great location because of the large number of trails and its close proximity to Duluth.After-Hours-Ski-Trails-13-3-_3674

We discovered the Boulder Lake Ski Trails near Duluth and made sever visits to these trails. There are enough trails to provide a nice day of skiing without skiing the same trail twice.Boulder-Lake-Ski-Trails-14-2-_1378

We only made one visit, to what we consider, the most beautiful ski trails in the Midwest. These are the Swedetown Ski Trails in Calument, Michigan. They get more snow and beautiful light fluffy snow than anyplace else.Swedetown-Ski-Trails-13-2-_1124

 

One of my favorite activities at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves is to take close-up photos of some of the ice and frost formations. With lots of folks walking around the caves it is an approach you can use and not have anyone getting into your photographs. More photos from the Apostle Islands Ice Caves can be found on my website.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-3-_0908

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These are a few more photos from my last trip to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves. The National Park Services expects to close the ice caves this coming weekend. More photos from the ice caves can be found on my website.

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After a long day at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves we walked back to the car with beautiful sunset on the horizon.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471a

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After a lunch in Bayfield I convinced my wife that we should drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road. With all of the people in the area for the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race and the Apostle Islands Ice Caves I thought there would be a little more traffic than we actually saw. Madeline-Island-Ice-Road-14-2-_0420

Along the road there were cars parked and fishing shack setup. No one was outside fishing because it was only about 6 degrees out. Madeline-Island-Ice-Road-14-2-_0380

We did spot a couple of people who appeared to be walking to the mainland. It was about a 3 mile walk.

When we reached Madeline Island we noticed that two of the wind sleds were parked on the ice. These are used to transport people from Madeline Island to Bayfield between the time the Madeline Island Ferry stops running and the time the ice is thick enough for the ice road to open. They are also used again in the spring then the ice breaks up.Madeline-Island-Ice-Road-14-2-_0408

We drove around Madeline Island since it was the first time we had been on the island. Near the post office we found this tug boat frozen into the ice.Tug-Boat14-2-_0416

The ice formations at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves are formed by the waves washing against the base of the cliffs. With Lake Superior frozen over this is no longer taking place. However, the ice created by the seepage from above the cliffs and in the ceilings of the caves continues to create more and better ice formations as the winter goes on.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1774

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More photos from the Apostle Islands Ice Caves can be found on my website.

About an hour before sunset the sun starts to hit the Apostle Islands Ice Caves. This is when the serious photographers turn up. As we move into February and March the sun will move enough to really light up the caves.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1215

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Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1904More photos from the Apostle Islands Ice Caves can be found on my website.

We stayed in Bayfield during our recent trip to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves. Unfortunately there is not a lot to do in Bayfield this time of year because most of the business are closed during the week.

Bayfield

Bayfield

We did spend some time walking around the harbor area checking out some of the fishing boats that remain in the water all winter long.

Fishing Boat

Fishing Boat

All of the sailboats were in winter storage.

Sail Boats

Sail Boats

Bayfield has a lot of snow this winter.

More Photos from Bayfield can be found on my website.