The ice caves along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin have been closed to visitors for the past five years. Warmer winter temperatures have kept the ice less than 8 inches thick, which is too thin to safely walk out on. Now, for the first time since 2009, the ice over Lake Superior is 16-18 inches thick, and visitors are flocking to the park, eager to explore its frozen sea caves and their unique formations.
Photographer Kelly Marquardt visited the caves on January 26, just eleven days after they opened to the public. Marquardt had to brave the single-digit temperatures, the grueling winds, and the long hike to see the caves, and then wait around until the other tourists cleared out of the way, but her beautiful photograph was well worth the effort:
Kelly Marquardt is a self-taught hobbyist who runs her own daycare business. However, she says that she truly lives to explore and photograph the natural world throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota and to adventure with her loved ones.
“I love to hike and explore new places and capture the moments of my travel,” said Marquardt. “[In this photograph,] I am deep in the cave and in a few of the caves I had to slide on my belly. It was fun!”