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Ice Walkers Circumnavigate Washington Island

West side: left to right, Dave Ranney, Bill Benson and Merrill Lundberg

On March 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., Lee Engstrom and friends Bill Benson, Merrill Lundberg, Jim Morris, and Dave Ranney set out on the beach at Sunset Resort to circumnavigate the Island. Friends Don Benson and Jim Goodwin joined the group on other days, but the only two men who completed the journey of 30.5 miles in 8 days were Engstrom and Benson.

This is the third winter Engstrom and friends have walked around the Island. The first year, Ranney joined Engstrom. In 2012, walkers included Engstrom, Bill and Don Benson, Herb Gibson and Bob Gillespie.

Engstrom's walking adventure came to life because he was curious and wondered what the Island would look like from the shore in winter. He didn't want to attempt this on his own, so he invited friends.

The men wore boots equipped with ice grips, very warm, protective clothing, and used hiking poles.

They walked on the ice because then they did not trespass on private property.

Boyer's Bluff: left to right, Bill Benson, Dave Ranney and Merrill Lundberg

Last year, with little snow and ice, they were forced to walk the beach. Engstrom recalls, "It was a long, often difficult, walk in mud and rocks."

Engstrom's 2013 walking log

March 12: Sunset Resort to the ferry dock
27 degrees Fahrenheit, cloudy. The top ice in Fegenschau Bay not very thick, so we often broke through and walked in 3 to 4 inches of water. Saw tundra swan-—quite a sight. Walked 4.3 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

March 13: Ferry dock to Sand Dunes Park
22 F, northwest wind 20 to 25 miles per hour. Walked 3.9 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

March 14: Sand Dunes Park to Percy Johnson Park
18 F, sunny with no wind. The walk around the point was a real joy. Saw lots of fox and deer tracks. Beautiful and peaceful. Walked 4.4 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

March 15: Percy Johnson Park to Old Camp Road
29 F, north wind 10 to 15 miles per hour. Walked 3.2 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

March 17: Old Camp Road to Pendants Lane
18 F, light breeze from the north—-cold. Jackson Harbor was frozen, so we cut quite a bit off. Walked 2.8 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

March 18: Pendants Lane to Jim Morris's and then on to Gudmundsen Drive
22 F with a good southeasterly wind and bright sun. Walked two legs of our journey today, 4.1 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

March 20: Gudmundsen Drive to Little Lake
15 F with a brisk wind from the west. Protected in the lee of the bluff. A lot of ice shoves—some quite high. Walked 2.7 miles in one hour.

March 21: Little Lake to Sunset Resort
24 F with a northwesterly wind of 12 miles per hour. Wind to our backs—a good day. Walked 4.9 miles in 2 hours.

Figenschau Bay: left to right, Jim Morris, Dave Ranney and Bill Benson

As the men reflected on this year's walk around the Island, Bill Benson said, "The most impressive part for me was at Boyer's Bluff. With the bluff on our left and the ice shoves on our right, it was like walking in a canyon. The ice shoves were 30 feet high in beautiful colors. It was breathtaking."

Engstrom plans to walk next year and "as long as I'm able; it was a lot of fun."

Ice walkers at Sunset Resort:  left to right, Merrill Lundberg, Jim Morris, Dave Ranney, Bill Benson, and Lee Engstrom; March 12, 2013


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