Winter’s end

On the last day before the beginning of Spring, I went looking for some last vestiges of winter. I hiked along the Boardman Valley Trail near Traverse City. The morning was crisp but, after a couple of weeks of warm weather, the only hint of winter appeared to be some residual snow on portions on the trail and a hoar frost that coated the vegetation.

I started my hike while it was still dark. Having never been on the trail before, I wasn’t sure what the view would be when the sun came up. I got for first hint at an overlook along the river’s edge. Not a bad way to start the day.

The railing on the overlook was covered with frost.

The trail follows the river and passes through meadows and through stands of cedar trees.

As I passed through a cedar grove, I noticed a pond glazed with a layer of ice. Initially, I was drawn to this composition.

As I got down to the edge of the pond, I was struck by the patterns of ice and made several images.

Catching this last glimpse of winter was exciting. I, for one, will miss winter’s beauty. But, for now, our hemisphere has tilted toward the sun and I will lean that way as well.

The Platte River and Otter Creek in Winter

I traveled north to the Leelanau Peninsula early Saturday morning. It was a snowy drive and took me about an hour longer than normal. But once I arrived and the sun came up, I was treated to awesome beauty.

My first stop was Point Betsie, shortly before sunrise. I was curious to see whether in the intervening weeks since I last visited (February 2) the ice had built up on the trees and bushes south of the lighthouse. While ice had built up on the breakwaters, the ice that had formed on the trees was not what it was three years ago when I visited in January. Back then the trees were thick with ice and the place was thick with photographers.

I ventured next to the Platte River near the point where it enters Lake Michigan. To get the perspective, I wanted I waded into knee deep snow. The scene was peaceful, interrupted only by a beaver swimming by and two swans that flew overhead making a terrible racket.

The needles of larches, or tamarack trees, typically turn a golden orange and fall to the ground in the fall. They are beautiful trees in their fall colors. This young larch on the river’s edge managed to hang onto its needles as a winter coat.

All along M22 the road and the trees were covered in snow. I seemed to have the place all to myself.

The trees glistened as the sun rose in the east. I pulled to the side of the road on M22 to get this shot of trees in an open field on the edge of the forest.

The scene below is Otter Creek where it crosses Aral Road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is the site of the town of Aral, a booming mill town in the 1880s. Nothing remains of the town today except for a large concrete block that likely served as a base for the sawmill that was about 25 yards east of this spot. An old map shows that this area is where the mill pond formed when Otter Creek was dammed.

Today, Otter Creek flows freely into Lake Michigan except, of course, in winter when shore ice builds and obstructs the the creek’s pathway, as shown in this photo. In the background on the right is Empire Bluff.

The GR&I Railroad Culvert on Wicked Creek

According to the historic marker at Trestle Park, on Summit Avenue, in Algoma Township, north of Rockford, Michigan, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad hired a local farmer to build a stone culvert under a railroad trestle that crossed what was then known as Wicked Creek (now called Stegman Creek). Completed in 1885, the culvert is an amazing feat of construction. It seems incredible that a local farmer would have the engineering skills and tools necessary to build such a structure.  The railroad and trestle are long gone, but the White Pine Trail now passes over the culvert on its 92-mile journey from Grand Rapids to Cadillac, Michigan.Trestle park 8444-blend-

A Last Bit of Winter Photography

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I made one more visit the the Leelanau Peninsula near the end of March to have one more shot at winter photography.  I headed straight to Good Harbor Bay to get some shots of Shalda Creek before sunrise.  I had great light for about 15 minutes and made the most of it.  Then the clouds rolled in.

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After the clouds rolled in I wandered around the park taking random shots.

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Up North on the First Full Day of Winter

I wandered north on Saturday, December 22, to do some photography on the first full day of winter. Unlike my usual trips that begin long before dawn, this trip started at 10 a.m. I was at Point Betsie by 1:00 p.m. On such a gloomy day, it didn’t matter that I was shooting at mid day. There is still so much beauty on a cloudy day. And I found lots of it on the Platte River as it prepares to flow into Lake Michigan. But, my intention in starting out late was to shoot at dusk and after sunset to capture a photo of Art’s Tavern, festively lit for the holidays, and Fishtown in Leland, which is also sporting festive, though less garish, lights.

Point Betsie

You may remember from my photos of the Point Betsie lighthouse last year how it gets consumed by ice. Well, winter is being very slow in coming and there is just a little bit of ice beginning to form. You have to start somewhere.

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The Platte River

The Platte River flows into Lake Michigan at the south end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. As it approaches the lake, it passes some low sand dunes.  The ice forming on the grasses on the river’s edge intrigued me — like diamonds forming on the shore.

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The reflection of the dunes in the slow moving river caught my eye.

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The Platte River as it approaches Lake Michigan. A brief bit of sun is hitting Sleeping Bear Dune in the distance, while Empire Bluff remains in the shadows.

Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor, Michigan

It’s always worth the drive to Art’s Tavern. But Art’s gets bonus points this time of year for its festive decorations.

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Fishtown, Leland, Michigan

In the latter part of the 1800s, Leland became a fishing town for white settlers on the Leelanau Peninsula.  They joined native people who had fished Lake Michigan for hundreds of years.  The shanties in Fishtown began to be constructed at the turn of the 20th century.  The Janice Sue and the Joy are two fishing tugs that still conduct commercial fishing operations out of the Leland harbor.

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Hiking the Wild Basin Trail to the Calypso Cascades

I hiked the Wild Basin Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday. I hiked to the Calypso Cascades, a round trip hike of 3.6 miles with a 700 foot elevation gain.

Just three tenths of a mile from the trailhead, a hiker is rewarded with views of lower and upper Copeland Falls.

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Hiking along North Saint Vrain Creek, the sound of rushing water accompanied me most of the way.

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Another mile up the trail from the Copeland Falls, the Wild Basin Trail Crosses North Saint Vrain Creek.

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The Calypso Cascades are another three tents of a mile up the mountain. The flow was down this time of year, but the falls are still a spectacular view.

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Ouzel Falls are another nine tenths of a mile up the trail with additional gain of 250 feet. I had originally hoped to get to Ouzel, but daylight and my water supply were getting low.  Perhaps another day.

 

On a Cloudy Day, Go Close

Yesterday was a gray winter’s day. Early in the day, I set out to shoot some landscape photos. The trees were flocked with a new coat of snow, but the light was so diffuse that the photos all looked flat and dull. So I shifted gears and decided to look more closely at the landscapes and find mini-landscapes in the details. I headed to one of my favorite spots, Honey Creek, for these shots. (Click on images to see them larger.)

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