Having seen pictures of the national lake shore during the summer it's amazing to see the transformation. This ice covered walk is a hike into another world!
Some tips for taking the hike:
-Get there EARLY or be prepared to walk a very long ways on the road. We got there at 7:15 am on a Friday and we got one of the last spots in the parking lot. It's even worse on the weekend. I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination but it's so nice and quiet in the morning, and the less you have to walk on the road the more energy you have to walk on the ice! During the week you would have to be there by 7:30/8:00 most likely, during the weekend probably by 6:30.
-No matter how cold it is out, keep in mind that any part of your face that is exposed will get sunburned if you are out for a while. Even on a cloudy day! So either cover your face with a face mask or dab on some sun screen to exposed areas like the cheeks, nose, and forehead. I didn't think of this (we were out there for four hours on a cloudy day) and my Irish ancestry really made me pay later!
-Make sure to pack easy to eat snacks like granola bars and beef sticks. Hiking on the ice is a lot more difficult than you think and you do burn a ton of calories doing it. You burn even more if you're carrying a pack. The best way to not wipe out by the end is to eat a good meal the day before and snack during the entire hike.
-The hike feels a lot easier on the way out because you're excited, but the way back can be torture if you don't know your own limits! Make sure to turn around not when you are starting to get tired but BEFORE you get tired. By the time we were done we were really dragging our feet - and we're pretty healthy individuals in general.
-Bringing a GPS unit is very helpful to keep track of exactly where you are on the hike. If you have a cell phone that has GPS just make sure to fully load the map first because there won't be a data signal later. Have a printed copy of the cave maps or a downloaded copy on your phone and you can compare the two to keep track of your progress. This was very helpful for us because it was a lot easier to really see how far we had gone and which points of interest were still up ahead.
-Wear layers! The temperature and wind speed can change while you are on the hike so I was often removing and replacing layers because I was either too sweaty or too cold again.
-Set aside at least three hours for the hike. We hiked four hours and would have been out there longer if we had the energy because there was more to see. Some people spend more than 8 hours out there. It depends on how much you want to see and what you want to get out of the hike
-Yak Tracks or other traction products for shoes are a must. Even with packed snow over the ice it is still quite slippery and we witnessed quite a few wipe outs on our walk. We had Yak Tracks and ski poles and had no problems. This is especially important if you are clumsy like me and my husband!
-Just in case you fall anyway bringing a basic first aid kit is always a good idea.
Over all this
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