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Category Archives: Devil's Punchbowl

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the Devils Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin. I used to go there at least once a week during the winter but for some reason I haven’t stopped this winter until last week. We have had some really cold weather so I was interested in seeing how the ice was forming. I was pleasantly surprised to find some great ice at the Punchbowl.

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More photos of Devils Punchbowl can be found on my website.

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As winter arrived I started thinking of places and events that I wanted to photograph this winter. The events and bird photography require a little more planning than the Landscape Photography locations.

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Without a doubt the top of my list is the Apostle Islands Ice caves. I discovered them in 2007 and have photographed them every year they have been open. When I first started photographing them I was frequently the only person on the ice that day. What a difference social media makes. This past winter well over a hundred thousand people visited the caves in-spite of the bitterly cold winter. Given the temperatures we have been seeing so far this winter I would expect the ice caves will open again in February. If you haven’t been you should make the trip.

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The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race

The Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race will be taking place on February 7th and 8th. This is really a fun family event and one of the better sled dog races from a viewers point of view. It is possible to get up close to the dogs at the start of the races. Since it is an out and back race you can also stick around and watch the mushers return. They also have different levels of races from professionals to kids.

Off and Racing

Off and Racing

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If you are really lucky, like we were last year, the Apostle Island Ice Caves will be open that weekend. You also may also be able to drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road while you are in the area.

Bond Falls

Although Bond falls is best known as a fall destination for photographers it provides some exceptional photography in the winter. There are not many waterfalls that are all that interesting to photograph in the winter. Bond Falls in the U.P. of Michigan is an exception. Most waterfalls in the Upper-Midwest are frozen in the winter. If there has been fresh snow they look like all of the other scenery. Bond falls is just below a dam it has water flowing all winter regardless of how cold it is. The flowing water combined with some interesting ice formations makes this one of my favorite winter photography locations.

Bond Falls

Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Ice Bond Falls

Mississippi River

During the winter we make a number of trips over to the Mississippi River looking for eagles. Our first stop is usually Alma, Wisconsin where eagles hang out around the lock and dam. The National Eagle Center provides a weekly report of eagles seen along this section of the Mississippi River. They also provide eagle watching tours.

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We then drive north to Reads Landing, Minnesota. We commonly see 30+ eagles in front of the Reads Landing Brewing Company. You can stop in the Brewery and watch the eagles in comfort while having lunch.

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Our last stop is usually  in Colvill Park  Redwing, Minnesota where the eagles hang out near the open water below the power plant. The catch to watching eagles in the winter is the best time to find them gathered in large numbers is when there is a bitterly cold stretch of weather. This causes the Mississippi to freeze up and reduces access to open water.

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Canadian Hill Farm

I can usually find something to photograph on the farm during the winter but most of my time is spent photographing birds during snow storms. There is nothing like hunkering down in the house with a roaring fire in the fireplace while sitting in my rocking chair and photographing birds.

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Hudson, Wisconsin

Hudson is a great place to watch Trumpeter Swans during the winter. With the successful reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans into the Midwest watching and photographing them has become a year around event. Trumpeter Swans don’t migrate in the winter they just move to the nearest open water. There is a small patch of open water in Hudson where they congregate in large numbers during the winter months. It is easy to get up close and photograph them.

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Hudson is also where the Hudson Hot Air Affair is held every February. This is one of the few hot air balloon rallies in the area. It is well worth the trip to watch the inflation and flight of the balloons.

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Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls State Park is a favorite stopping point during the winter. Although in very cold weather the Amnicon River usually freezes there are times when I can find open water. The tannin tainted water car result in some colorful photos.

Amnicon Falls

Amnicon Falls

Horton Covered Bridge

Horton Covered Bridge

Red Cedar State Trail

In the winter most of the Red Cedar State Trail is a cross country ski trail so in order to photograph it you have to be willing to cross country ski. There are some beautiful ice walls along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. These are the result of water seepage through limestone rock.

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On cold days the trees along the trail can be covered in heavy frost.

Frost

Frost

The southern portion of the trail is a walking trail in the winter and on a sunny day I like to photograph the Dunnville Stone in the late afternoon light.

Dunnville Sandstone

Dunnville Sandstone

Grand Marais, Minnesota

I like to make the trip to Grand Marais at least once every winter. I’m never quite sure what I’ll find. On one trip there were high waves washing over the breakwater and lighthouses.

West Breakwater Light

West Breakwater Light

At other times I love to take intimate shots of the ice formations that are formed when the water washes over the breakwater and then freezes into beautiful patterns.

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Devil’s Punchbowl

I like to photograph at Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin in the winter. Water seeping through limestone rocks creates a massive ice wall in the bowl. There are also opportunities to photograph objects frozen in the ice.

Devil's Punchbowl

Devil’s Punchbowl

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This past week I made a trip down to Devil’s Punchbowl to check out the ice. Given all of the cold weather I expected that the ice would be much thicker that it was and I was a little disappointed at the photo opportunities. There were a number of objects frozen into the ice that made for some nice photos.Leaf-13-12-_1090

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I had wanted to visit Devil’s Punchbowl when the Ice was first starting to form. On my first visit the ice hadn’t started forming. By the time I was able to get back down to the Punchbowl the ice wall was already formed. Large chunks of it were falling down so I spent my time photographing leaves that were frozen in the ice.Devils-Punchbowl-leaf-13-12-_0559

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There are a number of large ice walls near Menomonie, Wisconsin. This year, with the cold weather, they are growing quite large and are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. All of them are the result of water seeping through sandstone rock.

The largest ice wall is located along the Red Cedar State Trail. Unfortunately the trail is a ski trail in the winter so the only way to access it is to ski to the 1.5 mile mark on the trail. It can be accessed either from the Menomonie trailhead or the Irvington trailhead.

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The second ice wall is located along a small stream that crosses Paradise Valley Road. Paradise valley Road is located on the west side and parallels the west side of the Red Cedar River. At the 1.2 mile mark you will find room to park a car along the road. The ice wall is a short walk up along an unnamed stream. I would suggest wearing ice cleats to access this ice wall because of the amount of ice at the base of the ice wall and because the stream is now a river of ice.

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The third ice wall is located at Devil’s Punchbowl. Devil’s Punchbowl is located on the west side of Menomonie at the 1.8 mile mark on Paradise Valley Road. Access is from a small parking lot of the left side of the road. To reach the bottom of the bowl you must go down a long series of steps. The steps are usually ice covered as is the area around the base of the ice wall so I would suggest wearing ice cleats.

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This past week I made several trips to Devil’s Punchbowl near Menomonie, Wisconsin. The ice in the bowl is the best I’ve seen in several years. On both trips I spent time photographing object encased in the ice both on the ice wall and the ice flows down the side of the bowl.

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I made a trip down to Devil’s Punchbowl on a cold frosty morning to check on ice conditions. With the cold weather we have had during the past week the ice wall is progressing nicely. While I was there I had a chance to photograph a few things lying or embedded embedded in the ice.

More photos of Devil’s Punchbowl can be found on my website.

Pine Needles and Frost

Pine Needles and Frost

Pine Needles

Pine Needles

Embedded Leaf

Embedded Leaf

Pine Needles and Frost

Pine Needles and Frost

When I was out walking a few weeks ago I started to think about winter and what signals the start of winter for me. We all know that the official start of winter is December 21st but in reality winter rarely starts on that date

The most obvious signal of winter is the first significant snowfall. This varies widely. One year we had three feet of snow on Halloween and it stayed on the ground until April. I have to admit this one caught everyone off guard. I came home from work and noticed it was snowing a little bit but didn’t think anything of it. When my wife came home she had heard on the news that we were going to get a major blizzard. By that time I had to wade through knee deep snow to get to my tractor, which was at the neighbors house.  The lawnmower was still on the tractor so it had to be removed and the snow blower installed. I managed to get the snow blower installed but had to blow a path to get it back home. On the other hand last winter we really didn’t have a significant snow storm so It didn’t really feel like winter.

Country Road

Country Road

Another signal that winter is just around the corner is birth of the ice wall at Devil’s Punchbowl and along the Red Cedar State Trail. As soon as we get some good cold weather the water dripping down the sandstone cliffs starts to freeze on the moss, rocks, leaves and twigs at the bottom of the wall. If I catch it just right I can get some photographs before the ice becomes a solid wall.

Ice Covered Moss

Ice Covered Moss

The other thing that signals that winter is near is the return of the winter birds. Most of the birds I have around the farm in the winter stay year around. The lone exception is the Dark-eyed Junco. The Dark-eyed Junco leaves in the spring and spends the summer and early fall in far northern Wisconsin. When the Juncos return you know winter can’t be far behind.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

I really know winter is here when the Copper’s Hawks start showing up around my feeders. They are here year around but I never see them around the farm until we get lots of snow and cold weather which brings large numbers of birds to my feeding station. Since they feed on fellow birds they start showing up looking for lunch.

Coopers Hawk

Coopers Hawk

A couple of weeks ago the evening temperatures dropped into the teens. This was the signal to head down to Devil’s Punchbowl to photograph the first ice of the season. Normally I don’t photograph at Devil’s Punchbowl in the summer because there is just not enough to photograph but once the ice starts to form I’m usually there at least once a week.

I was a little surprised at the amount of ice that had formed after only one really cold day. There were some significant icicles hanging from the walls in the bowl. This time of year my main interest are the ice droplets that form around the vegetation at the bottom of the bowl.

It’s always a little difficult to photograph the early ice because there is quite a bit of water dripping from the walls above. The ground around the base is usually ankle deep mud so knee boots are a must if you want to get close to the base. There was also quite a bit if ice falling from the wall as the day warmed. I usually try to get there around mid morning. That gives me a chance to photograph ice that is in the sunlight and also ice that is still in the shade.

After two cold days the weather warmed and the ice was gone. On the bright side the next cold snap will allow me to get more shots of the ice forming.

More Devil’s Punchbowl photographs can be found on my website.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I love winter. In a normal year I don’t really miss it until the dog days of summer. Unfortunately the dog days of summer came as early as April this year. Within a couple of weeks of the last ski trip I was already missing winter this year. My wife and I are both winter people. We have been surviving so far this summer by watching “Ice Road Truckers” Ice Pilots” “Flying Wild Alaska” and anything else we can find with lots of snow and cold weather. We intermix an occasional trip to the Minnesota North Shore where it is usually, at least, a little cooler. I’ve gathered a few shots to remember the great winters past.

Off and Racing

Devil’s Punchbowl

Red Cedar Trail Bridge

Bond Falls

CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race

Camera Assistant

Swedetown Backcountry Trail

ABR Ski Trails

Rocks and Ice

Amish Ice Fishing

Apostle Islands Ice Caves