An Adventure Across the Ice Bridge

The early day crack on the ice bridge
A horse drawn dray rounding the corner on Market Street
The two restaurants open this winterIt was early in the day when I decided that today would be a good day to cross over to the island to get some work done. The past few days have been mild and the ice had shifted just enough to make this traveler a little leery of the safeness of the trail.  We loaded our machines from home and drove down to the Mackinac Grille where we launched and headed over.  It was a beautiful clear day with a dusting of clouds  but the wind was cold and fierce and much of the snow had blown off leaving a vast expanse of black ice but the trail was good and marked well with xmas trees…….  There was one small crack about a mile out, not enough to cause any concern and we scurried over it.  How fun to land on this island in the middle of winter, no boat or air schedule just you and your machine. What an experience to witness winter on Mackinac,  what a special place.   Word was out that the DNR has been ticketing people without trail permits, must be something new…….not remembering it ever being required previously unless you went the trails or into the state park area.  I guess they must now consider the ice-bridge, a trail, hmmmmm, bet you’ll find an argument there.  The picture above is of the two restaurants now open and serving food, great places for lunch or dinner…UNELSS you’re the DNR officer that just issued 40 tickets that day on the ice bridge for no trail stickers or lack of helmets (so he said:)  Hmmmm, things were rumbling on the island and I guess it came right from Lansing to enforce it.

After spending several hours with my client, we headed back,  my client catching a ride to the mainland of St. Ignace as the sun was starting to set in the west.  After passing through a spontaneous stop by a local female DNR officer, we carried on.  As the spot with the original crack got closer, I noticed the crack had enlarged and now there was water, maybe 3 feet or so.    I stopped and looked closer,  didn’t like what I saw and wasn’t ready to cross unless I saw another machine cross.  The on-coming machine stopped as well, looked at me and I suppose was thinking the same thing, (like stupid vs. stupid).   My husband Jim said we’ve got to cross it, apparently thinking it was OK and not too deep, he was not going back to find another way around.  As he flew across, he dipped and the water flew up……  but made it safely across.  My heart sunk out of my body and I turned to my friend and said close your eyes and hold your breath we’re going across.  I veered a little more to the south and gunned it, hit the crack, dipped, came up and landed on smooth black ice….we made it.  The momentum sent us spinning sideways until we hit a patch of snow,  sending my client off the back and me off as well, as I watched the machine coming down on me,  I threw my foot up as to not get crushed, it obliged and stood back up.   Safe! We all looked at each other….are we nuts? are you kidding?   Wow, what a rush…..after we laughed hysterically at what we had just gone through, and the machine now was limp with broken shocks, we  doctored her back, loaded up and headed home.  All were fine, no broken anything and enough excitement to last us all a while.   What you’ve got to do to make a living up here!  LOL!


For the record, if you want to purchase a trail permit, you can get them right downtown St. Ignace at Ace Hardware. Also, many people travel this bridge back and forth to work whenever the bridge is good, they know what to look for or they find out the latest conditions.  It’s not for the faint of heart…..and no one can ever guarantee anything but traditions are made and carried on and life goes on up here in the great white north.  Just need to be careful, inquire from the locals and pay your insurance up.

Ok, so this Saturday, I think I’ll stick to snowshoeing, I see there’s an outing at Tahquamenon  Falls with the North Country Trail to Trail group. Sounds like a much tamer activity.

A little more on the ice bridge

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