Cory and Faith were getting cabin fever after several months of snow, cold, and college. Together we planned a trip out up to the Redridge area. Our plan was ambitious, including a visit to Redridge Dam, Freda's ice cliffs, and the mill ruins out by Freda. With Katie and Logan our party headed out along the Canal and past Liminga, gawking at the tall snowbanks and frozen Portage, arriving at the dam in good time.
I was surprised to see a spot plowed out from the shoulder wide enough for several vehicles. At first I didn't think much of it and simply parked there, leading the group along some well-trod paths down to the falls. Redridge Dam Falls was easy to reach and had a few flowing streams of water through and over the timbers. Faith really liked this waterfall and was willing to head down the bank with me to get a closer view. Logan, Cory and Katie were content to stay above the river.
A side path beckoned us up towards the top of the steel dam. There is a modern mesh fence blocking off the trestle on the top, deterring us from attempting a dangerous yet very tempting walk across the top of the dam. The way back down was steep and had a rope to help us down. Someone in the local community had not only been here to break some paths but had strung up some assistance along the steep sections. This was a nice change from this winter's deep snow trudges.
While Faith and Cory checked out the steel dam's trusses my mind wandered back to the parking area. It didn't make sense that the road commission would go through the extra effort for just the dam. Then it clicked: those ice cliffs. I had no idea how to reach the cliffs, just knowing that they were somewhere along Lake Superior, but maybe this parking area was for just that. Ice climbing at Freda was a fairly popular winter sport and was promoted by several sport equipment companies in Houghton. Maybe Redridge Dam marked one of the routes down to the lake.
Sure enough, when we ventured back to the car I saw a gated road leading north. Hopeful I led Faith and Cory down it, with Katie and Logan holding off in the car. We made it a few dozen yards before I realized that we were on a private driveway. Quickly we scurried back to the car, glancing around furtively in hopes that no one saw us trespassing.
Leaving Redridge we headed west towards Freda, making it to the small overlook near the mill. I headed out alone on foot, peering down the steep cliffs and checking on the paths down. Hard-packed snow glistened like ice making a dangerous slide that promised broken limbs and bruises. There was no way we were going to make it down to the lake for either the mill or ice cliffs. We headed back to Houghton with only one of the three destinations reached today, consoling ourselves with just how awesome the steel dam and running water was.