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Old 01-03-2014, 05:00 PM   #1
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Default Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

There was open water out there 2 days ago.

Jason St. Onge and 2 others crossed this morning.
Here is what he posted on facebook, very good info:

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"Today, three locals, including myself, made the 3.2 mile trek across the Straits of Mackinac to St. Ignace.

Itís funny when the names start flying around as we cross the ice. You hear, stupid, crazy, brave, and even lucky. I donít feel that way at all. We donít just close our eyes, press the throttle and go. No, that would be stupid and crazy. It is really a matter of physics. A certain amount of ice holds a certain amount of weight. When the thickness of the ice is not what we feel it needs to be to hold us, we turn around and go back. If we feel it is thick enough, we move on. Oddly enough some of the same folks who throw those names around are generally in our tracks within 24 hours, crossing themselves. Iím guessing that for them at least, itís no longer any of the aforementioned.

How do we know how thick it is? Well, we WALK the entire way with steel spears called ďspudsĒ and we check the thickness every 10 to 12 feet by chopping through the ice until we hit water. This is a slow process, which is why it takes over two hours to walk the 3 miles of ice. After you get a ways (say 200 yards) you walk back and bring the snowmobiles up to that point. You NEVER snowmobile where you havenít walked and checked it. In certain areas, the ice is jagged and pushed up and that makes travel even slower. In other areas it is flat but void of snow like today, which makes it harder to walk.

How do we know when itís time to go? Well, we donít just puff up our chest and head out that, would be stupid. We have been watching the weather reports, monitoring the current, and keeping an eye on the winds. We start going out to the beach to check on how the ice is setting up. There is hard ice (black), soft ice, slushy ice, snow-ice. Ideally you want the clear black ice, as it is void of air bubbles unlike the white ice, or the snow ice which is just snow that blew into water and froze. Two days ago, we made it a ľ mile off shore before turning back, yesterday, 7/10 of a mile before turning back. Today we were able to go all the way. Certainly we take looks from above and ask friends who have been flying how it looks. However, the ONLY way to check the ice is to chop a hole in it and see how thick it is. When I hear people say that it looks good from the airplane, or looks good from sunset rock, that doesnít mean anything.

The biggest thing to remember is that is can change instantly. Just today in fact on our return trip, we went over a crack coming back that was 6 inches wide, that crack wasnít there on the way over. Plenty of times, folks have crossed in the morning only to see the ice blow away or move out with current by the afternoon without warning.

What does all this mean? Itís NOT A TOURIST ATTRACTION. I donít care how many miles of trails you have ridden or how many years you have been ice fishing on Houghton Lake. This is the BIG lake, it is moving and it is dangerous. The ice bridge should not be treated as ďsomething Iíve always wanted to doĒ once it is in, the only certainty is uncertainty. The locals know who to ask, and how current conditions are treating it. Many tourist come up, see the trees and just head out, having no idea what lies ahead or if a large crack has opened up. The ice bridge is not sanctioned by anybody or any organization.

So then why do it? Freedom from a boat schedule, freedom to travel without worrying if the plane will fly, freedom to come and go at your own whim. Is the risk worth it? To some yes, but there are plenty of Islanders who wonít cross the ice.

Will it be there tomorrow? Not sure, the wind is blowing pretty hard right now, and the current was moving at a decent pace as well, in the same direction as the wind, so yes, by tomorrow morning, a large chunk or even all of it could be gone. The current is an amazing thing out there. Iíve been on the ice while the winds were flat calm and current was moving at 10 mph. I have been on the ice in 25mph winds and current was calm. (You check the current by cutting a hole in the ice, pushing some snow in and watching how fast and which direction it goes. You see this through the clear ice) Speaking of snow, there is a lot forecasted for tonight and into tomorrow, that could certainly wreak havoc on things as it has a tendency to insulate the ice from the cold air.

Well how thick is it? I have not, and will not go on record as to what thickness of ice we found today. As conditions change by the hour, I will never go on record as to how thick the ice is as where I was and where you may go are two entirely different places. I can tell you that the thickness is far from uniform. The thickness can vary by 4 inches in just 50 feet.

I hope this sheds some light on the situation and that anyone who may be heading up here just to ďcross the ice-bridgeĒ for a thrill, truly understands that itís not really a bridge and is certainly not for the inexperienced. Please use caution and contact authorities who could at least tell you if it is still being utilized. Always remember, that once the ice gets bad, or if a section blows out, nobody goes out there and takes down the trees, so from one side or the other, it may look like things are normal, so ALWAYS check with somebody. And I cannot stress enough, the ice-bridge is NEVER safe."
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Very well said.
On the big lakes, there is never SAFE ice. Water is moving under the ice all the time. Changing the thickness.
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:30 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

All Im going to say is I crossed it once in 1995 and it scared the chit out of me. Never again

Of course I get scared crossing a frozen mud puddle too. I don't like crossing anything frozen no matter how thick the ice is. Ice fishing will never be a hobby of mine.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

From my window I could see open water last Thursday. I don't remember looking on Friday. On Saturday, the Hollycock was hit by a freighter West of Iggy:

Freighter & Hollyhock collide

Supposedly when the Biscayne Bay can in through Round Island Passage she was making better then 14.5 knots, and the wake broke up all of the ice in the Mackinac Island Harbor. They will be making their way to station St. Ignace on Saturday/Sunday.

On Sunday the treeline to Mackinac Island was put up roughly between the Mackinac Grill and British Landing, much farther North then previous years.

Some islanders were seen crossing yesterday. I have not heard if the ice is in good shape, I will not report that it is safe to cross, but I said I will report the fact that the trees are up. Always check ice conditions locally before venturing out onto any frozen lake.
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Old 01-08-2014, 04:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

From Sunday
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Old 01-08-2014, 05:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJA View Post
All Im going to say is I crossed it once in 1995 and it scared the chit out of me. Never again

Of course I get scared crossing a frozen mud puddle too. I don't like crossing anything frozen no matter how thick the ice is. Ice fishing will never be a hobby of mine.
Hey MJA. How did you get your sled to hang vertically? Gorilla glue on the track and skis?
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

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Hey MJA. How did you get your sled to hang vertically? Gorilla glue on the track and skis?
Ancient Chinese secret
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Old 01-09-2014, 10:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Fixed it for ya. Full service forum around here!
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Old 01-09-2014, 01:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

I have been out across the ice probably 3 times - all in the 90's. Not a destination I would take these days. I remember on one trip we never found or could see the trees so we went from Ignace to Mackinac on our own route. I remember the locals at the bar asking where we came from and to return immediately due to the high winds.

In Ontario however, the trails run across lakes frequently so it never was a big deal (I realize inland lakes are different than this). The cabin we stayed at was only accessible via a lake (5 miles on Lake Matinenda) so we had to cross the lake. Again, not something I would do now.
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Picking myself off the floor cause Brian made a post!!!
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:20 AM   #11
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

I have to agree with MJA, don't like ice much. We rode to the Island a few years ago and I'm surprised the seat cover on the sled didn't have a permenant ridge in it from pinching my a~* cheeks everytime there was a strange looking spot in the ice.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:43 AM   #12
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Quote:
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Picking myself off the floor cause Brian made a post!!!
Yes I did. I view this site regularly, just don't post much. I don't have much to add or discuss. I can post more if you would like.

Heading to Wyoming tomorrow - Snowy Range.
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Old 01-10-2014, 04:32 PM   #13
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

We rode the shoreline from the mouth of the taqua river to paradise once. All of the locals told us to go that way because the swamp was in pretty bad shape and it was safe. Even with all assurance from people that have ridden it, I was still pretty nervous and didn't like it at all, probably won't be doing it again. Ive also been over to the island once but I really don't think its worth the risk.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:57 PM   #14
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

The funny thing is, if you kept near the superior shoreline, the ice was probably safer then the swamp ice.
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:36 PM   #15
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Griz View Post
I have to agree with MJA, don't like ice much. We rode to the Island a few years ago and I'm surprised the seat cover on the sled didn't have a permenant ridge in it from pinching my a~* cheeks everytime there was a strange looking spot in the ice.
Hey I think I remember this trip as I was along! Don't see what all the hype is about but that one time is good enough for me. Ill stick to brevort lake and the smooth trails
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:36 AM   #16
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

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Hey I think I remember this trip as I was along! Don't see what all the hype is about but that one time is good enough for me. Ill stick to brevort lake and the smooth trails
Your memory is correct(he's still young and hasn't bruised his brain with grain yet) and I agree, the one time is all I need.
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Treeline survived the weekend warmup and looks to be in decent condition and heavily traveled.

If you are trailering here to ride to Mackinac Island, be advised that the parking lot next to the Mackinac Grill is heavily congested. Please park at our ice rink trail head and ride either across the street to the bay, or down the trail to the Mackinac Grill to enter the ice. Town trail is in good condition, you won't have access issues.

People are crossing, please don't ask about ice conditions, I will not report that. Check conditions locally, have a plan, let someone know about your plan, and stick to your plan. The ice is no place to be during a storm or at night. Please proceed with caution.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:40 AM   #18
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Yesterdays project.
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Old 01-25-2014, 11:45 AM   #19
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

To expand on what Neil has repeated several times on this page, ICE IS NEVER SAFE!

On a lake not near the size of The Straites they are pulling a fatal out of the lake near my house this morning.

Be careful out there!
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Old 01-25-2014, 10:26 PM   #20
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Some info I got today.

They put up a second treeline to the island today. Starts at the same spot, but when they put in the "B" line it usually make a bee line for the downtown area. You are usually on the ice a lot longer, out where the ferry runs. Ride over on the North British Landing run, the quickest way to the island, take the B line back - if you have the nerve!

There was an article in the local paper this week. They are going to crack down on sledders on the island. If you go over, do not screw around. Obey the speed limits, make sure you have your registration and permits. They are going to phase in helmets too. Just be cool, stay out of where you are not supposed to be (stick to roads -NO TRAILS), and you will be fine.
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Old 01-25-2014, 10:57 PM   #21
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

I have never been to the Island and hopefully would enjoy the ride over. With the cold and the ice formation on the lakes I would think this may be one of the best times in recent years to cross. I understand ice can change at anytime. I have crossed to Grand Island many times and never feel comfortable especially when the ice changes color and has that black look to it, this is quite a bit further and a much stronger current. I have asked a few people to come up and ride across to the island but it may just be myself. I enjoy photography so a few pictures on the island would be great. My thought was to wait for a group to cross and maybe follow them. Most of the people I used to ride with have sold their sleds, at this time I refuse to stop riding. The weather report calls for cold and possibly some sun on Friday Jan31st, which is great for photography, and the day I will probably make the trip. Thanks for all the info on this forum.
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Old 02-09-2014, 05:29 PM   #22
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

I am bringing my wife and 2 couples up to go out to the island. My wife has been waiting years. With the huge pond hockey tournament is this weekend, my concern is parking. If we arrive at 2pm on Saturday (15th) will we be able to find spots for 3 rigs in the staging area? If not is there a suggested alternate parking location somewhere down the trail? Note, 2 rigs are pulled by non-4-wheel drives.
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Old 02-09-2014, 07:25 PM   #23
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

You can park your rigs at the Ice Arena (Big Bear I think). It is directly on the trail. There is plenty of room and pretty safe. I just got home from four days in St. Ignace. The Ice Bridge was BUSY.
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Old 02-09-2014, 09:24 PM   #24
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

About that time Sat there should be some space in the South ice rink lot. If not, go to the North side of the rink up by the snowbanks. Do not attempt to park downtown, it will be way too busy. Boy after that it is going to be tough, I would almost suggest going out to Cast Rock Rd, and park along the side of the road there if you are just going to be the day.

Follow the trail downtown, and cross the street at the Shell station, the treeline will start behind the South side of the Mackinac Grill

Enjoy your ride, and check local conditions.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:10 PM   #25
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Default Re: Mackinac Island Ice Bridge 2013

Great thanks for the advise, I assumed the rink would be full too. I looked at a map and Castle Rock road looks pretty easy.

I don't post a lot, but I have been reading the posts for years. The honest feedback and great trails has made St Ignace my most frequently visited area over the last couple years. Thanks.
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