Residents and visitors have come to recognize the Keweenaw Peninsula as one of the premiere snowmobile destinations in the world, but there is a danger this year.
The Keweenaw Tourism Counsel, Houghton Police Department, Hancock Police Department, Houghton County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the United States Coast Guard are all strongly discouraging snowmobilers from deviating off the trail system to cut directly across the Portage Canal between Houghton City Waterfront Park and Hancock.
Every year local agencies respond to incidents where machines and their operators break through the ice.
No ice is safe ice, prior to going out on the ice, complete a “float plan”; notify family and friends where you are going, and most importantly when you expect to be back. Be sure to notify them should plans change.
Once submerged in icy water, a high probability exists that the human body will lose voluntary muscle movement in fifteen minutes or less making it almost impossible to remain afloat without a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD). In addition, the Coast Guard recommends carriage of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) along with a VHF-FM marine radio, to alert the Coast Guard and local agencies of potential distress.
While traveling over ice is common, there are elements that make this crossing particularly dangerous. Water currents, run-off pipes, underwater structures and decaying vegetation all weaken an ice surface. All are present between Houghton MI and Hancock MI. Please stay on the trail and off the ice for your safety.
The Coast Guard says: Before you embark for a day of recreational fun think I.C.E. Intelligence, Clothing, and Equipment.