Grand Island Backcountry Ski

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February and the beginning of March have been full of some great adventures. I have had almost every weekend off from the restaurant that I work at because it has been so slow. And I am not one to sit at home on my days off. So my friend Megan and I decided to go on an adventure to the ice caves of Grand Island.

1794511_10100606627425977_68628594_nWe left Marquette in the early evening and decided to camp out in Munising in -20*F to save money on a hotel room. Our first plan was to ski across the 1/2 mile channel on Lake Superior between Grand Island and the mainland. The high West winds that night concerned us a little bit. Sometimes when the winds are strong enough, it can move the ice and completely clear the channel overnight. We didn’t feel like getting trapped on the island, so we set up camp in the parking lot of the ferry. We went into Munising before bed to get some liquid courage for the long night outside. The bathroom at Sydney’s Restaurant was a good place to change and brush our teeth. Once we set up our tent and snuggled under 4 layers of blankets and a down sleeping bag, we thought it was going to be a good night’s sleep. 1982308_10100613534998147_978544489_nThat was not the case. I didn’t get more than an hours worth of sleep, after tossing and turning on the uneven snow below the tent. Then came the cold and the shivering. You couldn’t have any skin exposed, or you would probably get frostbite. So I suffocated under the blankets trying to keep warm. Then at around 5am…we woke to the sound of snowmobiles blasting past our tents to get to their ice shanties before dawn. That was our cue to get out of the tent and pack up. We shoved everything in the car and blasted the heat. Then we drove into Munising to get breakfast, only to find out that nothing was open besides Subway until 8am. So we hung out in Subway while we waited to get a decent breakfast at The Navigator.

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After stuffing our faces, we bundled back up and went back to the Grand Island Ferry to begin our journey. We ended up meeting a snowmobiler with a sled that offered to give us a ride across, but Megan and I felt like we wanted to do the trip ourselves. After talking with the man, we found out that he is the author of The Legend of the Christmas Ship and local singer/songwriter, Carl Behrend. Megan was very excited to meet him because her Dad loves the book. The large groups of snowmobiles and ice shanties on the ice eased our concerns from the night before about the ice blowing away.

Capture

We used Rossignol BC110 skis for our adventure. I love these skis because they have metal edges and scales on the back. So you get the best of going up and down hills. They were super fast on the ice. The ice across the channel was solid and covered in a foot of snow, with a crust on top. The skis stayed right on top of the crust, which made us cover the miles quickly. Our main plan was to ski just across the channel and get immediately on land and follow the snowmobile trail on the island. But since the ice was so solid, we just skied across that until we got to the tombolo, and then got back on the ice. It was a 9 mile round trip to the West side of Trout Bay and back.

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The sun was shining, and the island blocked a lot of the wind, so it was very enjoyable.

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Once we got to Trout Bay, we saw a lot of huge ice formations and skied out to them. They were about 80 feet tall and you could get right underneath some of them.

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On the way back, we made lunch with a camp stove in the shelter of a little historic cabin on the Island.

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We had such a good time and were very sore on the car ride home. Saturday well spent!!

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