Zachery Elwart

We helped fund 16-year-old Zach’s trip up through his home state of Michigan!

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“It’s a whole different world out here.” I kept telling myself while exploring ice caves and snowy landscapes everywhere I looked. Growing up in the Detroit you don’t get to experience the wildness and unmodernized part of Michigan too often, so when I had the opportunity to take this trip, I jumped right at it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love living in the big city of Detroit, but to me, nothing beats venturing out into the wild, open nature of Michigan and getting a first-hand look at our beautiful state. Luckily, the drive wasn’t too bad. To get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from home was about a 4 hour drive, and the farther we got away from the city the more electrified I felt. Every mile that we got closer north, I tried to imagine the winter wonderland we would see. I had expectations…and they were more than met.

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The plan was to leave on Friday morning and arrive back home on the following Monday night. Months of thinking, mapping, and planning and we were ready for a highly anticipated trip. We also camped in a tent…outside…in the cold. You probably are thinking in your mind right now, “What crazies! They should have froze to death!” and you are right. We are definitely nuts for camping in a tent in -20 degree weather, but what’s adventure without a risk? As peculiar as it sounds, we actually got toasty some nights, thanks to an in-tent heater! It sure was a cold trip, but thankfully we were prepared.

It was so mind boggling to me how much of a change it was crossing over from the Lower Peninsula to the Upper. The U.P. seemed to magically have feet more snow, and also a more remote feeling. At night it got dark…real dark, which made it seem vastly secluded. The day time was a whole different scene. White, white, and more white with a dash of green trees peeking underneath their blankets of snow. It snowed from sun up to sun down. I couldn’t have been been happier at that moment, hiking through feet of snow, seeking out frozen waterfalls, caves, and snowy environments. The cold breeze of air would seep through my facemask, into my face and chill my bones, but it didn’t phase me given I was looking around in awe at the dazzling nature. If you were to take a photo of my face at that time, you could probably have confused me for a euphoric child finding out he is going to Disney for Christmas!

We had some incredible sights on this trip that I will never forget. We witnessed Tahquamenon Falls almost completely frozen, walked up to and around the frozen Munising Falls, hiked miles through feet of snowy trails, slid down frosty slopes, ventured inside magnificent ice caves, enjoyed campfire food, and had plenty of laughs. Truly, a trip I will never forget and all thanks to the awesome team at Death to the Stock Photo for collaborating with me on this project!

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