The Eben Ice Caves and Blogging Buddies

After we found some measure of frozen waterfall success in Munising, we rolled west toward the Eben (like “Evan” with a “B”…I asked šŸ˜‰ ) Ice Caves. The journey there proved much less perilous than our previous efforts, and the hike wasn’t too bad either.

A nearby landowner graciously allows visitors access across his field, and maintains a packed trail across the snow via snowmobile, making the path much shorter than it would otherwise be. Even though we were in The Middle of Nowhere before lunch on Friday, there were three other cars parked at the end of the road with us. So, while the trail isn’t marked by signage, it is clear where to go. I imagine in warmer months, the trail is an absolute breeze, but with heavy, deep snow, the short (~3/4 mile one-way) hike kept me warm enough to ditch both hats and gloves. Also, there were a few places we opted to sled down on our rears – we were going to end up on them anyway – before continuing on foot.

With no fanfare, the trail ended with a sharp climb up a dry creek-bed, at the top of which hung multicolored ice-stalactites. I steered clear of other picture-takers doing their thing, and meandered my way behind the giant icicles. The grotto was both quiet and loud: the icy drapes blocked noise from the outside, but inside the walls echoed small dripping splashes.

On the way back, we opted for a route along the top of the canyon. I don’t think I’d go that way with small kids, but Tony and I had fun clambering up some icy roots with the aid of a sketch-tastic rope. Following a gourmet lunch of cold cuts on cold bread (is there any other kind when it’s in the single digits?), we headed toward Kathy’s – a great blogging friend of mine at whose home we were having dinner.

We stopped for coffee and photos in Marquette…

…and then continued west. Spotting the sign marking the seasonally-closed Canyon Falls roadside park, we pulled off in the just-barely-plowed-enough area and trudged through thigh-deep drifts until we located a trail sign. Once we spotted it, the trek to the river was relatively easy (I’m sure it’s very easy without the snow) and well-marked. Most of the river was frozen over – like the vast majority of waterways in the UP – and covered with snow, but we could hear it splashing under the ice.

Again, the attraction we hiked to see seemed to just appear suddenly. Because of the piles of ice, the river quietly cascaded into a colorful, carved canyon instead of loudly announcing its presence with thunderous spray. Not sure where the rock shelf/ice shelf line was, I kept my usual exploration to a minimum.

About an hour later, we were back in the car, once again on the way to Kathy’s. I called her home phone while on the brief stretch of highway where we had mobile service. If you’ve ever reconnected with an old friend who you used to know and hoped was still cool, or connected with someone you’re just sure you know online and hope they’re that person in real life, then you know what we were getting ourselves in to. Kathy and I have been blogging buddies for a couple of years now (I think…and I would ask Kathy for confirmation, but I think she might be less sure than me!), and had breakfast together back in the summer. We had a terrific visit, full chatting, so I wasn’t too worried, but this time we were throwing our husbands in the mix.
Lake Superior Spirit
If the well-below-freezing temperatures hadn’t killed both of my batteries, I would share a picture of all of us here. Instead, meet Kathy and her father šŸ™‚

I needn’t have been concerned. Kathy is every bit as cool in person as online, and Barry’s not too bad either šŸ˜‰ Kathy and Barry were warm hosts, and conversation flowed easily. We all participated a bit in Kathy’s whole foods detox (roasted portobellos stuffed with kale), and also added in salmon with an avocado/grapefruit salsa. (I’ll share the recipe if I ever get back to doing that…) Since I’ve already drug this blog out far enough, I’ll keep it short and say: if the chance to hang out with Kathy and Barry presents itself, do it!

Have you met a new friend or reconnected with an old one? Is that your cuppa tea?

Still to come: The Lovely Laurium Manor Inn, expanses of frozen Lake Superior, and multiple lighthouses. Also, I never know which pictures are going to end up small in the above galleries, but each one has a larger version and I recommend clicking through for the larger, more detailed versions…if you’re a visual person like me.Ā  And last – thanks for hanging through all these words!


23 thoughts on “The Eben Ice Caves and Blogging Buddies

    • Thank you Wendy. There is something special about the frozen water. It’s like a moment in time suspended so that we can enjoy it for more than that fleeting instant.
      Hanging out with my normal/well-known friends is definitely my cup of tea, but we were certainly outside our comfort zones. I’m so glad we did it though!

  1. Heather your pics are simply wonderful. I can not think of adequate words to describe the photos of the ice cave and all the rest that you have posted here. And I have already concluded that Kathy is a lovely person just from the undertones of her writing. I read sort of brtween the lines about what a person might be like face to face and in “real life.” It is nice to know that the two of you have become friends. I think it is fantastic.

    • Your words have simply and utterly delighted me! I’m so glad you enjoy the photos even a hint as much as I like taking them!
      I think in the online world it’s hard to tell how genuine people are. In some ways I feel like if you follow a blogger long enough, you gather some essence of what a person is like, even if you don’t know all their facets (though, I don’t think we ever know *all* facets!). Kathy is a beautiful soul, and I’m so glad we were able to meet – something that never would have happened if we weren’t both bloggers. Looking forward to continue to getting to you know, too! Perhaps there’s a cuppa tea in our future…though Texas is sure a looooong way to drive šŸ™‚

      • Thanks for the lovely reply. We might not ever meet in person but we can “talk” via email etc.if you want to ask a question or jsut tell me something or we can just gab. I have exchanged mail with 3 Brits who emailed me from out of the blue. I was thrilled to get their notes. I really like all of them. We seem to be on some sort of common wave length. I don’t know how to explain the connection that we have made. We don’t gab back and forth. Only if something is “pressing.”

        I can not remember if you are the blogger that I asked if you were near Traverse City or not. While I am on the subject I have distant relatives there. I do not know them but I am sure that some of them have the same last name as my madien name.At some point I will email you the name.

        • I love seeing how the internet has made the world a better place to live. So cool that you have British pen pals šŸ™‚
          And yes, I am very near Traverse City – or at least “very near” by our open-country driving standards.

  2. Your pictures are just amazing! My experiences with icy cold phenomenon is very limited ( hot and humid is unfortunately my specialty), so when I say amazing, I mean show my husband amazing! “Honey, check this out! It’s ice! Like in a waterfall! That’s ice! Holy cow!”

    • Your response is amazing and totally makes my morning! We did hot and humid (four years in Miami, FL and three years in the north GA mountains) and have opted to live where there’s a “real” winter šŸ˜‰ Still, I am blown away by what the cold does to the water. I hear that in middle February the colors in the ice are even more blue because of the minerals that make their way through. I’ll go back for sure!

  3. Have to head out to work but will come back and read this more carefully and look at the large versions of the photos! Having lived up there once upon a time I am excited to see! And someday I hope to meet Kathy myself. Glad you had fun. OF COURSE you had fun! šŸ™‚

    • Teehee – yes Dawn – of COURSE we had fun. Though, since you know the terrain, I will say that climbing through Hancock with all the plows (you know, the private ones) sliding around the curves with us in near white-out snow was a bit terrifying!

    • Aren’t they? We see so many colors in the water up here because of tannins and minerals that you’d think I would be used to it. Happy to report that it amazes me every time šŸ™‚ And thank YOU for stopping by to see!

  4. I definitely adore Eban Ice Caves-7 and the cavernous appeal of -6 (as you assumed I would; those pops of green and blue playing to my favorites). šŸ™‚ Now that I’m looking through them up-close, I really like that first exterior ice curtain shot with the sharp white snow sprinkles. Lovely!

    • Those were at the top of my list, too. Honestly they all are šŸ˜‰ I took tons more and only shared my faves! Can’t wait for you to go and share your shots!

  5. Ohmygoodness, not just all these fabulous photos of the UP to enjoy–but look who else is here! You shared that pic of my dad and me last June *sniff, sniff* along with our meeting last Friday night. Heather, you and Tony picked the perfect weekend to travel north because the weather has been so challenging since Monday. Snow, rain, freezing rain, more snow. (Of course you would probably have loved it, never mind.)

    Heather, one of the things I like most about you is your genuine down-to-earthness. You seem an eternal soul. Ageless. And matter-of-fact. Some of my longest friendships have existed with people like you. Thanks for this lovely post.

    • Funny that you say such nice things about me Kathy, because that’s exactly how I feel about you. When someone asks me what you’re like, I can rattle off a few things and examples. But when they ask me you approximate age, it takes me a minute. Several of my “close” online buddies are near my mom’s age. Not sure what that says about me šŸ˜‰
      Regardless, thanks for welcoming us into your home. You and Barry are welcome here any time as well.

  6. Pingback: Making Lemonade in da U.P. | Adventures in Michigan's Up North

  7. Thank you for sending me this link Heather!! And thanks for the pronunciation pointer – I was of course pronouncing it like ‘Eden’ with a ‘b’ šŸ˜› I know they’re caves but my first thought was of Narnia šŸ™‚ Perhaps because of the quiet, white beauty of the snow that belies the hidden strength of running water?! You know what I mean right?

    And then that lighthouse – all snowed in – just magical šŸ˜Š And then meeting a blogging buddy and finding out that they are just what you expected – more magic šŸ˜Š Someday I hope we have a chance to find out too šŸ˜ŠšŸ˜‰šŸ‘

    • Tony and I kept going back and forth on the pronunciation. Yooper (’cause she lives in the UP…Upper Peninsula…UP-er, get it? šŸ˜‰ ) Kathy informed us of the correct way to say it.
      The ice caves are certainly Narnia-esque. And my southern work colleagues would laugh if they read this, as they joke about how this place must be Narnia to hear us all talk about it šŸ˜‰
      As much as Tony and I travel in country, we’ve never done the abroad thing. This place is so big and different (and let’s be honest, my heart lies in the outdoors more than cultures for whatever that says about me :-/ ), that we’ve focused on exploring here. But, we’ve got Canada in our sights, and will start to look to farther horizons. Perhaps one day we can meet in the middle. Perhaps we can meet over some of those pastries that so captured you on your previous travels!

      • Your heart is right where it should be in my opinion for what it counts šŸ˜€ And when you live in the surroundings you do, who can blame you for not venturing too far?!

        But yes – someday we will meet – Nature & pastries – what could be better šŸ˜‰ šŸ™‚

        • Your opinion counts for a lot, but sometimes I feel like a big ole wuss for not venturing out more into this big world. However, that’s also expensive, and I know I must make those trips count in a big way. So, I think Iceland’s going to be our first big international trip. What say?

          • Aaaaw…thank you šŸ™‚ you’re right about expensive!! Travel within India can get really expy too! Often more expensive than traveling in nearby South East Asia. So a lot of Indians prefer traveling abroad for that amount of money and cross countries off their travel lists. In my 30s which is when we really had the opportunity to travel…it was initially a lot about shopping :/ but now thankfully that’s off the menu and I like to experience the place like its locals would do. I try! But hopefully in 2014, I want to do a Tiger safari…I LOVE tigers and I just want to see one in the wild before they disappear forever.

            Iceland is an awesome idea! It is just so you! I can already see the pictures šŸ™‚ I had a cousin who went and came back raving even though they missed the Aurora due to unfavourable weather. For us Indians – vast stretches of unspoilt, quiet Nature are the ultimate luxury – surrounded as we are by the chaos of a billion souls all jostling for their six degrees šŸ˜‰

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