The weather has been brutally cold the past few days. The bay is almost completely frozen over. Ice formation on the Petoskey pier has reached its zenith, all that can happen now is for snow to cover the ice. With that in mind, I bundled up as warm as I could and braved the heavy winds and blowing snow. My goal, was to reach the Petoskey lighthouse.
From the shore, the pier looks frozen yet easily passable. The ice is flat, with little snow cover to hide peaks and valleys. It is difficult to see in this photograph, but the wind is howling as soon as I stepped out into the bay. The snow blows sideways, stinging exposed cheeks and the tip of my nose.
About twenty yards onto the pier, the terrain transform. The ice is formed into large rocks and boulders. I have to carefully climb up and down icy slopes. Several times I slip to my knees. The ice cracks under my weight. Here, the ice is colored a light brown, most likely from the sand sprayed into the air by heavy surf beating against the rock of the breakwall. Twice I reach walls of ice I believe to be impassable. Once I am forced out onto Little Traverse Bay to continue my journey.
Out on the bay, the ice is colored a deep blue. I estimate that the surface of the lake is a good four or feet below the ice level. I look out towards Lake Michigan. It is difficult to find the horizon. All I see is white, grey, and blue.
Once I reach the middle of the pier, where the boulders give way to a steel wall, the terrain flattens once more.
By the time I reach the lighthouse, my flesh is numb from the cold. From the shore, the lighthouse looks lightly covered in ice. Up close, I realize the ice is several feet thick.
What surprises me most, is the deep blue/green tint of the ice. I capture as many photographs as I can, hoping beyond hope that the sun will escape from the clouds just long enough to allow me a touch of sunlight. Mocking me, the sky merely turns more grey as the snowfall grows heavier.
As I make my return, I try to capture a few photographs of the city. The snow, however, is falling too thickly to capture any clear shots.
I’m hoping to make a return trip later in the winter, if we are ever greeted by a blue-sky day. I would love to see how the sunlight reflects off the blue ice.