Monday, September 3, 2007

Through the Mackinac Straits to St. Ignace, Michigan

On Saturday September 1, we made the passage from Harbor Springs to St. Ignace, which is located across from Mackinac Island at the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge. Because of a brisk south wind, the seas were a little rough while heading north after leaving the protection of Little Traverse Bay. But they calmed down significantly after making the eastward turn around Waugoshance Point and heading into the Mackinac Straits.

Shortly after leaving Harbor Springs, we decided to take a little detour to get a closer look at the Ile Aux Galets Light. We couldn't get too close because the island is surrounded by some pretty nasty shoals.

We found the passage through the Gray's Reef area into the Mackinac Straits to be one of the most interesting stretches of Lake Michigan. For a period of time, you can see four lighthouses, the Beaver Island group to the west, shoals and islands to the east, and the tall spires of the Mackinaw Bridge in front of you. And, there was a lot of activity going on, too. A freighter was passing through the area, we started to see the ferries that go between Mackinac Island ("the Island", as it is called up here) and Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.

This is the Gray's Reef Light.

This is the old, abandoned Waugoshance Light. (This light station is allegedly haunted by the practical-jokester, wine-imbiber former lightkeeper who may or may not have fallen off a pier one night.)

Here is the St. Helena Light, on an island to the north as you approach the Mackinac Bridge.

This is the White Shoals Light. It is the only "candy striped" lighthouse on the Great Lakes. We were pretty far away from it but could still see the red and white stripes.

We were soon in the Mackinac Straits. We approached, then passed under, the Mackinac Bridge, which is a very impressive structure. On a clear day, like the one we had, you can see it from many miles away. We could actually see the top of it rising over the Michigan mainland while we were still well south of Waugoshance Point. Then, as we neared it, it just grew larger and larger until it towered over us. Passing under it and looking up, you can see the cars and trucks through the metal gridwork over 100 feet above you . Then, you find yourself on the other side of the bridge and in Lake Huron.

We're now in St. Ignace and will write a couple of blogs about what happens when one of us (the energetic one) innocently - or at least she makes it sound that way - exclaims "Hey, let's take a short bike ride and then, if we feel up to it, take a little stroll across the bridge."

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