Dunville Sandstone is one of my favorite winter photography subjects. These were taken on a recent hike along the Red Cedar State Trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On cold days the trees along the trail can be covered in heavy 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.
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.
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.
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.
Technically it’s still ski season so we walked along a portion of the trail that is open to hiking year around. It was a beautiful 60 degree day so all of the trail should be open for hiking in about a week. I have to admit that 60 degrees is a little warm and I was already wishing for winter.
There was the Dunnville Sandstone that really stands out along the trail in the late afternoon.
We saw a number of Bald Eagles fishing along the river. A number of hawks could be seen and heard as the circled above the river. At the eleven mile mark we heard a number of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes.
More spring photos from the Red Cedar Trail can be found on my website.
This past weekend my wife and I had planned a trip up to the U.P. of Michigan but they had a big snowstorm and we wouldn’t have been able to stay until it ended. We decided to stick around home. On Saturday we drove out to the 12 mile marker on the Red Cedar Trail and hiked back toward Downsville. We ended up hiking from the trail intersection on County Y to the Dunnville Sandstone Quarry.
The trail was a combination of gravel, snow and ice. It is a multiuse section of the trail that is used for skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. There was evidence that many different critters were using the trail. We found tracks on the trail from, people, horses, deer, turkeys, Raccoons, mice and rabbits. It looked like a flock of Wild Turkeys had walked down the trail when the ground was soft.
Normally there are some nice ice falls along the trail but this year things were a little sparse. On the on the other hand with no snow cover it was much easier to walk back into the ice falls. Most of the ice along the trail was milky white. One ice fall was particularly interesting because it consisted mainly of black ice.
I like to hike this section of the trail on a sunny winter day when the late afternoon sun hits the Dunnville sandstone it really brings out the color. It also creates some interesting shadow patterns on the sandstone walls.