Breaking ice: Minneapolis

Exploring the winter lakes of Minnesota with the HONOR View 20.

This photo taken inside of the Minnehaha falls, shot with the HONOR View 20, shows that the frozen water is an alluring shade of blue, a stark difference from the white ice and snow that can be seen in the exterior, or the grey walls of the undercutting on the right.
Photograph by Robbie Shone

Minnesota is a state comfortable with the cold.

This isn’t by choice. People that live there are regularly faced with some of the harshest winters in the continental United States, and have been forced to adapt.

Minneapolis is a city of roughly 420,000 that has embraced the sub-zero temperatures. However, the freezing weather cannot hide the beautiful natural sights that can be explored by tourists. In fact, National Geographic Photographer Robbie Shone, there on assignment during the winter, found the city and its nearby lakes and parks captivating.

“I live in Innsbruck, in the mountains of Austria, so I thought I was used to living in a cold climate,” said Shone. “Winter in Minneapolis is an entirely different beast. It was a shock to the body, and nothing like the winters that I am used to back in Europe.”

Walking on Water

Minnesota is well-known for hosting part of Lake Superior within its state borders. Though that may be the biggest of its lakes, there are far more to see. In fact, the state is known as the “Land of 10,000” lakes, and is actual home to 11,842.

For his tour, Robbie chose to explore the Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), and the Minnehaha Falls.

“The first thing that amazed me about the lakes in Minneapolis was how frozen the water truly was,” said Shone. “I’ve never come across anything like it in my previous travels, and it was a very interesting thing to experience.”

Shone added that what surprised him the most is how comfortable people were with being on top of the ice. The sight of people drilling holes to partake in ice fishing was one thing, but the most jarring thing to him was witnessing people take their vehicles onto the water.

“I feel like I may have been the one that was worried most about the cars that were being taken onto the lakes,” shared Shone. “The people driving them didn’t seem to be afraid at all. They looked more like they were having fun testing out how their BMWs would fare on the rock-solid ice. That’s certainly something I wouldn’t do myself!”

Frozen Waterfalls

The other treat for Shone was being able to visit Minnehaha Park, home of the Minnehaha Falls. No laughing matter, and like the state’s lakes, the waterfall itself was also frozen solid. From the inside, one could see ice that had a stunning shade of blue, while its exterior was surrounded by other icicles that had formed on top of the frozen waterfall itself.

Other Sights

Though the city of Minneapolis provided plenty of avenues to explore, Shone wants to return to Minnesota in the future to venture further northeast. There, he aims to visit the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.

“I’ve heard that the icicles that form outside of the caves in the Apostle Islands are an amazing sight,” mused Shone. “I’ve spent a great deal of time exploring caves in other parts of the world, and though the weather didn’t permit me to travel there on my last visit, I’m determined to explore them again in the future.”

This is the second of a three-part series. Visit the ‘See the Unseen’ HONOR Gallery to see more of Robbie’s winter journeys. All photos in this article were taken using the 48MP camera with AI Ultra Clarity mode on the HONOR View 20, responsible for the immense detail found in the images.

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