As I write this post on January 7, 2016, a major snowstorm is moving across the Western United States, with forecasts placing it in the Great Lakes region by the weekend. I can't help but hope that the predictions prove to be true! I love how snow and ice transform dull brown landscapes into shimmering places of beauty. So, although the storm is still a day away, I'm charging my camera batteries and planning my snow-ventures. While I wait and hope, I'm remembering the Upper Midwest's first snowfall of the season, which happened last October. At the time, I was camping near Munising, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, right in the path of the storm track. Most people would not be delighted by the idea of snow arriving in the midst of a camping trip, but this one was special. These snow squalls were targeting the southern shores of Lake Superior between Marquette and Grand Marais where peak fall color was blazing.
When the snow began falling in the middle of the night, I could hardly sleep! The winds were perfectly calm, and even in the dark, I could see that this snowfall was pure sparkle. I wandered around the campground in the snow-glow, watching as snowflakes silently drifted onto the red and yellow trees, coating them with crystal. I didn't have to wait for dawn to see that this storm would create spectacular shooting opportunities.
Long before sunrise, I was in my car on the way to my favorite place in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: the White Birch Forest, near Grand Marais. But driving was difficult, partly because I don't have 4WD and also because I kept pulling over to take pictures. Near Melstrand, on H-58, I stopped to capture the diffused light of early morning on the snow-coated trees.
I was in a big hurry to get to the White Birch Forest, but this was a slippery snow. After skidding and sliding around and taking a very close look at a couple of ditches, I decided to slow down. That's when I noticed Kingston Lake! At least, I think it was Kingston Lake. The sign said so, but it didn't look like the Kingston Lake I knew. It looked like a fairytale storybook destination. Miraculously, instead of landing in a ditch, I had wound up at this mirrored lake, just as the skies were beginning to clear.
The beauty of Kingston Lake chased all thoughts of the White Birch Forest from my mind. But soon the storm clouds drifted away and the sun emerged. Oh my, sunshine! I was running out of time! I headed back to my car and hurried to the White Birch Forest. Once I arrived at the forest, I only had about 20 minutes to capture the sparkle before the sun melted it away. As I was photographing, I heard the snowflakes letting go, one by one. Soon, I was drenched by the second snowfall of the day - this one caused by temperatures that reached 50 degrees before noon. But I was in no hurry to leave this magical place. I wandered the candy-colored White Birch Forest long after the snow had vanished, enjoying the sounds and scents of a gloriously memorable October day.