Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dogs and caves and snow and ice

Wow that was a great way to spend a Saturday!  My friends Adam and Laurie: the Mad-English teacher and the Mad-Chemistry teacher, and I journeyed up to Washburn/Bayfield/Cornicopia area of far northern WI.  Which is a somewhat crazy thing to do, seeing it is usually COLDER up there than it is here.  But cool things (and some serious good eats) were needing to be experienced.

Ices, snow, caves and people
Laurie is a HUGE fan of all things dog and heard about the Apostle Islands Dog Sled race that was this weekend.  She wanted someone to come with her, and when the Ice Caves opened up plans were formulated!

I had been to dog sled races many years ago when we had them here in Park Falls.  It is an interesting thing to witness, those dogs are amazing.  Many people think of sled dogs as big puffy Huskies or what have you, but in reality they are smaller and lighter and more "mutt" looking. Of course not all of them are, and I do NOT mean to insult anyone or their dogs, but they do not look like stereotypical sled dogs of the cartoons or legend or what you might imagine they look like.

 What was fun is to see the personality of each of the teams.  Some were very mellow while waiting to be harnessed, and some were just twitching and howling with anticipation.  And when they were all attached, the majority of them were just LEAPING and twisting and barking with joy and energy, and some were more calm. But what you saw were dogs who were LOVING what they were about to do.  Those dogs are bred to run and run they do!  It was so much fun to see.

In the chute ready to go

Take off!

Shy guy

Same boy ready to go!

Before the dogs are harnessed

Waiting their turn to go

The Ice Caves are part of the Apostle Islands National Park system and they are along the shore of Lake Superior on the northern most edge of Wisconsin.  During the summer some hearty souls will sea kayak through those caves, but of course winter time, is a different thing.  The ice is not always of proper conditions to have thousands of people walking over to the cave area, in fact the last time was in 2009 that the caves were available.  It is something that is hard to describe, as the vastness of the lake and the height of the cliffs and even the ice formations are quite awe inspiring.  Worth the trip if you are up for a walk! Be aware that you may end up parking up to 2 miles away from the entrance to the park, and then there is a mile hike to the caves..... and it is VERY easy to wander on and on and on and on.  From what I estimate, we walked a total of almost 8 miles.  The caves may be open up to another 3 or 4 weeks, of course always depending on ice conditions- which can change quickly I hear.

This is near the beginning of the cave area- lots of people walking around

Some of the amazing ice formations

An island way in the distance- I don't remember what one it is

Decorations of ice

Looking up

Adam and Laurie trying for a great shot!

Icicle variation

This reminds of the Boundary Waters landscape 

Crawled into a low cave

Amazing the different sorts of ice, colors, formations

The people at the base of the rocks are a great scale comparison

The amazing changing weather
The weather changed no fewer than four times.  We started with it snowing, then the sun came out, then the wind picked up and the clouds moved in and got distinctly colder, then it got much windier and the sun came out again.  The gloves were off and on, as was the neck warmer and hat.  I was EVER so grateful that I had toe warmers in my boots, though.  If your feet are warm, the rest of you seems to have a fighting chance!!  I also had on a pair of yak traks, which are a gripping system for your boots that works quite well on the ice and snow.  I saw several people fall on the ice, but thankfully were not injured that I know of.  We were all quite exhausted by the end of the day and it was really good to be able to land at the Black Cat for a light dinner and relaxation.

HEY, did I mention that we ate breakfast at Coco's North??  Holy smokes was that good- I had stuffed French Toast, which was so yummy it should be illegal almost.  It was a good grainy bread - 2 pieces- egg coated and had some cream cheese filling in between the pieces and a side of rosemary roasted potatoes. Had to be one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had.  And of course they SERVE the best coffee ever- North Winds Coffee Roasters Coffee from Bayfield.  YUM

Anyway, it was such a fabulous day, we were outside all day long once we got to the dog sled races.  Just a 10 min drive to the parking road (Lol) of the caves and we were on our feet until 3:30 or 4.  Oh it was glorious to warm up and sit down.

Makes you remember what a good thing it is to find joy in whatever you do- and however winter is treating you.  Until next time, be a joy giver everyone!  Winter can't last forever!!  Lola says so!


  1. Oh my gosh ~ you had the day I wish I had!!! So jealous. BUT so happy you were able to go and finally see the ice caves AND the dog races. Amazing. You really got some nice to remember them by.

  2. What an amazing trip! The dogs and caves are so beautiful.

    1. The thank you so much Sarah! It was a great day!