134: Lake Erie in winter

(Ice dune.  Lake Erie.  Erie, Pennsylvania.)

One of the things we haven’t done while living relatively close to Lake Erie is go up and have a good look at the lake during the depths of winter.  Although it would have been closer for us to see the bits of Lake Erie in Ohio near Cleveland, we decided to see it while we were in Erie, Pennsylvania.  We were, after all, already there.  The hotel where we spent Sunday night wasn’t far from the lake at all.

(On the road.  Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania.)

We drove out to Presque Isle State Park the entrance to which was, I think, less than a mile from the hotel.  The parts of the world we could see that morning were icy, and the trees were covered with hoar frost.


Presque Isle is a 3200 acre sandy peninsula that juts out on Lake Erie.  The peninsula/park creates a bay (Presque Isle Bay) on the east side where, in the winter, you might find some folks ice fishing.  We did.

(Ice fishing shelter.)

There were several shelters out on the ice.  The one pictured above had someone huddled inside when we arrived.  Although I didn’t walk out to check, I am sure it was bitterly cold out there on the ice.

(Approaching the beach and Lake Erie on the west side of Presque Isle.)

We drove to a beach on the west side which was near the Presque Isle Lighthouse since I wanted to see the beach, the lake, and the lighthouse.

And now we get to one of my favorite photos from the trip.  M was, as usual, way ahead of me and already on the beach while I was taking photos of benches and the lighthouse.  As I walked up the hill and passed the bench you see in the photo above, I looked out to see M in the distance…

… standing out in the great expanse of white and blue, the whole scene looking amazingly stark and almost surreal.  It took my breath away.  I have never seen anything like it.  (Click on the photo to see the slightly larger version.  You’ll see a little more detail that way.  The same is true of all the pics.)

(Ice dunes.)

I walked up and joined him in looking out over the mostly frozen lake.  There was, I think, a channel out a ways that was not frozen (or not quite frozen) as it was dark blue in color and stood out from the rest of the whites and light blues.

(A jumble of ice.)

The line of dark blue in the photo above is the channel I mentioned.  It wasn’t until after we left our vantage point and the beach that we saw the signs warning us not to stand or walk on the ice dunes.  Ice dunes are formed in shallow water when the waves combine with the ice and snow.  They form in layers and are built up by wave spray while there are still waves to spray.  As you can see from the photo captioned Ice dunes, they look like waves formed in the opposite direction of the waves you would see on the lake when it isn’t frozen.  The ice dunes are important in that they help prevent beach erosion during the winter months.

They are also not meant to be walked upon.  They can be riddled with thin spots, caves, and air pockets, weaknesses in the ice where you could fall through the dune and into the freezing water below.  For the sake of the photos I took, it’s good I didn’t know that at the time.  For the sake of my life/health, I should not have been standing there.

I’ll bring you a few lighthouse photos tomorrow.  It’s time to move on to today’s outdoor fun.

The calm after the storm

It is clear and sunny in the Bogs today.  Don’t let that fool you.  It is also bitterly cold.  Make sure you bundle up when you go out there.

Here is 30 seconds of yesterday’s wind, sleet, and snow.  The video isn’t nearly as impressive as the real thing.  Notice the way the snow is blowing (sideways and sometimes even upwards).

But you get the idea (and if you experienced it, you don’t need the video).

Here is what it looked like this morning:

(Today’s view of the pond.)

The blue of the sky was incredible.


The trek was, well, a trek.  There are so many layers out there that walking, for some reason I can’t explain, feels labored and difficult.  Every now and then I would stay on top of the layers and it was easy.  But mostly I would sink in through the layers of snow, sleet, ice, sleet, ice, and snow, and each step out of it felt like it required more effort than usual.


I didn’t wander far from the house.  Just far enough to feed the birds and watch the icicles melting in the sunlight.  I tried to capture the glitter of the snow in the sunlight, but that kind of beauty is beyond my camera.  All of the colors of the rainbow were represented, shining brilliantly on the surface of the snow/ice mixture.  I wish I could show it to you.

Come when the rains
Have glazed the snow and clothed the trees with ice,
While the slant sun of February pours
Into the bowers a flood of light. Approach!
The encrusted surface shall upbear thy steps
And the broad arching portals of the grove
Welcome thy entering.

~ William Cullen Bryant, A Winter Piece



21 Comments on “134: Lake Erie in winter”

  1. There are many photos I like here, but I especially like the dunes one (and am glad youre safe), the drip, and Welcome. You are very brave for going on these outdoor treks and I appreciate it.

  2. Giiid says:

    Wonderful photos. The Drip photo is so beautiful.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Giiid. 🙂

      I was enthralled with the slowness of the water dripping off the melting icicle until I tried to photograph it. It seemed to speed up once I tried to focus on it and capture the drips.

  3. Gorgeous photos as usual, Robin. I just can’t get enough of your snow pictures 😉
    I love the bench, and the last one.
    The video is CRAZY!! You must have been hanging on for dear life to keep from getting blown away! 😉

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Michaela. 🙂

      That was one of four videos but some were so bad that it was hard to realize it was wind and snow. The one I posted was actually taken with me indoors with the door open a little so I could focus the camera beyond the glass of the door and pick up sounds. Even so, it was brutal.

  4. You’re an amazing photographer, Robin! You know, I grew up in Pittsburgh and NEVER made it to Lake Erie in the winter–incredibly beautiful!
    hugs from Haiti,

  5. Karma says:

    Those ice dunes are really something. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ll chime in with the others and say how cool your icicle is, even though I’ve had quite enough of those things causing puddles in my kitchen this winter! 😉

  6. penpusherpen says:

    Good to know your risk taking was by accident …sheeesh woman, we don’t want to lose you.
    and that Ice shelter photo looks as if it’s a Submarine Conning Tower poking through, ready to surface fully!! Now that would’ve been a photo and a half!! 😉
    Wonderful blue sky as you say, such a glorious colour, completed with the sun’s blurry presence. Thanks Robin, for sharing your trails….xPen

  7. Marianne says:

    Robin, the photos are beautiful. Lake Erie looks very cold. I don’t think I would be as brave as you to trek out on the ice though. When I was much younger (in my twenties) I remember snowmobiling on live railway lines and frozen and not so frozen lakes. I shudder when I think of it.

    We had the beautiful sun shinning also. It felt great.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Marianne. 🙂

      It was terribly cold out there that morning. It made my face hurt. But it was worth trekking out there just to see it.

  8. The first photo looks as if it should have the title of Lake Eerie! It reminds me of what I have seen of Antactica, on the TV of course!

    I find many of your photos alone breathtaking, so I can well imagine how the scenery around M took your breath away!

  9. bearyweather says:

    I am really tired of this harsh winter that never seems to end, but I can still see the beauty in it .. thanks for sharing the beauty you see in it, too.
    Love your drippy icicle … I tried to get a picture of one last Spring and just never got a great one … yours is great! I will have to wait a few more months to try it again.

  10. Russ says:

    Thanks for sharing. As someone born in Erie but now living elsewhere I rarely get to see the penninsula in its winter glory. Glad you did not fall in!

  11. […] of the shapes remind me of ocean waves frozen in time, or the ice dunes of Lake Erie when the waves are frozen in […]

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