Little Bay de Noc in Early Spring

I suppose all indications are that we’re in for an early spring in the Upper Peninsula. That’s relative this far north, however. For us, an early spring means temperatures are creeping into the 40 degree range and snow is melting off faster than usual, not that grass and leaves are sprouting. Still, all this warming meant I was in for a surprise when I took my usual walk along the shore around Escanaba yesterday. The ice has been deteriorating for the past week, and open water has expanded regularly, which has been nice for me and the local ducks both. But imagine my surprise when I hit the path and saw completely open water! It’s funny how the ice disappears like that. You watch it get thinner and thinner, and one day it’s gone. Then, as I headed toward the beach, I was in for an even bigger surprise.

Wind does crazy things with ice. Sometimes it blows the ice out, but this time the opposite happened. Piled up against the shore in large piles were stacks of broken up blue ice. We don’t get blue ice very often, so it’s a treat when it appears. For this type of ice to form, you need pure water. These are the Great Lakes, so we have plenty of that. You also need conditions that allow the ice to form slowly and evenly. This is not as common in Little Bay de Noc where winds whip across the water on a regular basis, but it was calm enough at some point this winter to allow the ice to form correctly. When all the right boxes are checked, you get ice whose crystals absorb more of the sunlight’s longer wavelengths and reflect back more of the shorter wavelengths, which happen to be blue.

Blue ice on Little Bay de Noc, copyright UP Traveler, no use without prior permission

I snapped this picture looking north along the bay. The day was overcast, but I thought the combination of blues Mother Nature whipped up was something you don’t see every day. I also liked the textures of the rock, ice, waves, and clouds. So as you see, the cold up this way can be harsh, but winter has a beauty all its own. If you can handle the frigid temperatures, it’s a wonderland. Or, as one of my more jaded Yooper friends likes to say, winter is how nature keeps the weaklings out of paradise.

Location: Escanaba, MI north of the marina looking north up Little Bay de Noc


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