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Lake Michigan Ice Cave Exploration

Inside a Lake Michigan ice cave

For the second year in a row, frigid temperatures over Lake Michigan have left it nearly 60% frozen. Those cold temperatures coupled with the strong winds we've had over the past month are the perfect ingredients for the formation of ice caves. There were ice caves on Lake Michigan last year, but none had formed so far this year. Until last week, that is.

Eric LaPaugh, owner of Leelanau Adventures, shot some footage from inside an ice cave near Glen Arbor and shared it with us. Inspired by Eric's footage, which eventually reached national audiences, and accompanied by a couple of very excited boys, we headed out on a snowy but balmy 24° Saturday afternoon to take a look for ourselves.

Bob was leading the way as we made our way down the stairs and onto the ice. In no time flat, out of the corner of my eye I see a pair of brown boots shoot into the air. Wild laughter quickly followed. As I made my way up to the scene, Bob is lying flat on his back slowly breathing.

He managed to softly utter "Walk slowly," as the rest of us hopped over him and onto the ice.

Covered by a fresh snow, the Lake Michigan Ice was slipper and jagged. Not an easy trek! Covered by a fresh snow, the hidden Lake Michigan ice was slippery and uneven. Certainly not an easy trek.

There were multiple ice ridge lines along the shore, each one seemingly larger than the last. Hopping up the ridges was rather tricky with slippery ice underfoot. Getting down was much more of a treat; Nature's perfect slide.

Hawthorn found his way over one embankment and need a hand getting back up. Hawthorn found his way over (slid down) one embankment and need a hand getting back up.

After 20 minutes of surveying every nook, crack, knob, ridge and indent we came across, Colebrook gave a joyous yelp. "Guys, hurry, look at this!"

We found our first ice cave. And it was the best ice cave ever.

Measuring 20 feet deep and 6 feet tall, Colebrook didn't just find an ice cave, he found a cavernous ice cave.

DSC_9764-2 Colebrook and Hawthorn take a moment to chat about their new digs.
DSC_9788 Hawthorn loved the icicles hanging all around.
DSC_9772-2 Colebrook, Hawthorn and Bob.We chewed on a few icicles as our minds raced.

We chewed on a few icicles as our minds raced. What do we do with out newly found space?

Is it a boys-only club? Are girls allowed? What about Mom? What's our password?

Then it came to Bob. "We're sleeping here tonight. We'll have a small fire outside our cave, roast s'mores, then hop into our sleeping bags."

DSC_9783 Everyone stretches out, trying to find the comfiest spot.

The cave quickly became a retreat. Our nature-made sanctuary.

It was the perfect plan for a bunch of kids that were blinded by excitement and wild dreams.

Luckily, leveler heads prevailed. As soon as we returned home all Mom needed to say was "Just stop and think about this for a minute."

Our wild dreams of sleeping under icicles and stars were dashed, but it's hard to beat a night at home tucked safely in a warm bed.