Archive for the ‘Travel – MN’ Category
Before the noon funeral, we were afforded a few brief moments on Lake Superior.
We awoke before the sun and headed down to Brighton Beach.
Merchant vessel Walter J. McCarthy Jr. heads out of port for points east. She’s a modern great lakes boat, about 1/5 of a mile long, measuring 1,000 feet long.
November 20th on the lake in fall coats?
We also took a short walk up Lester Creek. All of the shots today were taken within the city limits of Duluth, a great place to get outside.
While Martin and I were bumming around northern Minnesota, the girls and a couple of brother-friends were on a canoe trip.
I offered help, only as asked as Claire gets all things packed for the trip.
Aa beautiful day to hit the water paddling.
Emma, at the stern in her element.
Claire portaging the canoe between lakes.
All settled in at the campsite.
Creative cooling as always when camping – why not put some dried fruit and nuts in the biscuits?
Pump, pump, pump that water through the water purifier.
Some of the crew at the head of a portage.
The whole crew having a snack near the end of the day. I take it as an encouraging sign that the bugs are not so bad to allow shorts. I’m sure it must have been a great trip for the kids to manage successfully without parental guidance for five days in the wilderness.
Today was the last non-driving vacation day. We arrived near Ely with some time to spare before picking up the kids, so Martin and I just hung out at the public landing on Snowbank Lake.
Lunch on a deep, blue northern lake can’t be beat! After picking up the canoers, cooking them up a dinner, I took a couple hours of quiet time and went back to Snowbank for a couple of hours.
Once I found the pattern, the fish were easy to catch. They weren’t falling for artificial spinners or plugs, they weren’t falling for leeches or crawlers suspended off the bottom in deeper water, they weren’t suspended over deeper water, but they were hanging out about 10-15 feet from shore, so I actually had to cast towards shore from the dock, not out into the lake. The night was quiet, I only saw two boats go by, the same number of Bald Eagles that were screeching and circling nearby.
Today we settled in at friend’s cabin near Duluth. Spent some quality time on the dock.
In between kayaking and floating around on the lake, Martin still found time to join us on the dock for some fishing. He also managed to catch the biggest fish of the day.
Her looks a bit apprehensive about holding the prehistoric-looking pike.
A few ours on the boat yielded few fish, but fishing from the dock provided some pretty good action!
To top off our day, we spent some time near the St. Louis river south of Duluth. Eventually the river drains into Lake Superior forming a large estuary and exits through the Duluth and Superior ship canals, and his held behind by Park Point (the beach from yesterday). The Ojibwe call the river Gichigami-ziibi (the great lake-river). It is the largest river to empty into Lake Superior.
There was 6-9 inches of rain the week before the arrived, so the river was near its peak flow. There are the highest class rapids (class VI) at this point and below and ABOVE this picture is the take-out point for white-water rafters and more sedentary class IV rapids.
The root-beer colored water roars through this point in Jay Cooke State Park.
Further downstream, more ordinary standing waves and boils fill the channel. The river was a loud, brash spectacle of water, rock and energy.
We stopped for dinner at Canal Park, and Martin worked up an appetite trying to pull the William A. Irvin, an ore boat anchored in the harbor.
After our visit to the river, we spent the night at Camp Miller in Sturgeon Lake, where I spent many summers as a counselor, naturalist, trip leader, and camp caretaker. We stopped in and ended the day with a conversation long into the night with Bernie, a kindred spirit and fellow top-notch gardener and handyman. The highlight was hearing about his maple sugaring and his first prize ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair for his syrup.
This was a day so wonderful you wish you could lock it up and throw away the key. Martin and I bummed down from Ely to south of Duluth, stopping as we pleased. In fact, it was so scenic, I’m splitting it into two days, since it can’t all fit in one post. We even saw a moose near the road on the drive down to the lake.
It was a rare calm day on Lake Superior. This is a view of Shovel Point, north of Silver Bay.
We stopped in for a look at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland, MN, to see where Claire will be working this summer. Here’s a sign taken just for Linda.
The hike up to Marshall Mountain was fun.
Here it is, up on the top of the ridge overlooking Lake Superior.
Raven Lake to the left and Wolf Lake, not visible in this photo, to the right.
A replica Voyageur canoe, capable of taking 24 people along.
From the shore of Wolf Lake, looking towards the south.
The buildings at Wolf Ridge have the seashorey kind of look – this is the science center. I hope it’s a great place for Claire to live and work this summer.
A view looking down from Shovel Point towards Duluth.
A rare calm day – you can see Wisconsin on the horizon.
These are some underwater rocks on the shore. Superior’s got stones!
Straight down from these rocks, we saw a giant fish – hard to tell how big it was, but from the only thing nearby to get an accurate measurement, it appeared to be about 2 loon lengths long.
We also stopped a ways down the road at Gooseberry Falls.
The last stop on this portion of the day was a different kind of Superior shore, this one, a very long sandy beach from Duluth to Superior.
For better or worse, we agreed to allow Claire and Emma go on their first longer canoe trip (without parents) with a couple of friends who happen to be brothers and do not have BWCA experience. I used it as an opportunity to see them off and get them up and back. Since it’s about a 10 hour drive, we stayed for a night before the trip and after the trip at Kawishiwi Lodge where we have spent many summers.
I’ve recently received complaints about the lack of pictures of me on the blog. Here’s one at Lake One on the night of our arrival.
And one of Martin as well.
The crew the last night before heading into the wilderness.
The group just moments before they headed off down Moose Lake for points east and north.
Just across the lake from where we sleep for a week (and sometimes exactly where we sleep in a tent) a massive forest fire has already estimated to have burned 100,000 acres in the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota. The Pagami Creek fire blossomed into an inferno on Monday.
Photo Credit Greg Seitz
Here’s a photo from the narrows between Lakes Two and Three during the fire taken last Sunday, before the fire really got ramped up. According to news reports, the fire makes its own downdrafts and creates three foot waves on relatively small lakes. Also, Kawishiwi Lodge owner Frank was in the news as firefighters used many of his outfitting canoes to set a backfire to prevent the fire from heading north and getting to the Fernberg Trail (being in a fire is probably the only time you’d want a aluminum canoe instead of a fiberglass).
Here’s Linda paddling the same narrows during a trip in 2008. We can now tell our grandkids, “we were there before this all burned.”
Here’s another shot from the same year, with the same distinctive island and tree visible in the first photo showing the fire. Here are all the photos on the High Hopes Blog to Lake Three.
Here’s a satellite shot from NASA. Just for scale, this photo shows the northern shore of Minnesota, parts of Lake Superior and the coast of Northern Wisconsin.
This map shows where the fire started. For the whole map view with frequent updates, see the national wildfire incident map.
Today was a day just to paddle out. We had reservations at a bunk house, so we didn’t have to worry about finding a campsite or driving home 10 hours.
But first there were 6 portages to cross. The 2nd and 3rd were a bit intimidating. It might not look bad in this photo, but from the waters edge, it seemed like straight up – a challenge with an 18.5 long canoe on your back!
The portage trail itself was a bit bouldery and still wet from the night before. Luckily, the only time I tripped was without the canoe on my back.
Here’s some extra fancy purple fungus on the trail. Sometimes asparagus and some other things are purple when they are cold, but it had been warm, so I think purple was the normal color for this guy.
The day was mostly overcast, and we stopped for lunch at this campsite, which had the closest fire grate to the water I’ve ever seen at a BWCA site.
The morning broke like all the rest on the trip – calm and warm.
That was welcome as we had about three miles of Winchell Lake left before we portaged to some smaller lakes that wind wouldn’t matter as much.
After a little more than a half day of paddling and some swimming and fishing, the skies finally unloaded on us.
I’m not sure you can call it a camping trip without rain. Martin was eager to try out his new raingear, at least for a short time.
It was time to break out the tarp for a bit of protection around the kitchen.
Martin insisted that I take this photo for Claire, who had given Martin this freeze-dried ice cream for his birthday. There you go Claire – this package traveled well – from DC to Iowa to BWCA.
Our next night was on Winchell Lake. Winchell is a long lake, about five miles long with steep elevation on the south side, fronting the Misquah Hills.
Martin was a trooper on the portages. On the first portage he asked if he could take this backpack. He hauled it all 14 portages on the trip over 700 rods, a bit over two miles.
Here, the boys are waiting for the fish to stop by on their lines. In the background, a fire relatively recently passed through, thus all the dead trees. The fire jumped the lake and kept going.
The fishing paid off – here Martin shows two of the fish he caught for a fresh dinner!
There’s not much that’s more relaxing than floating in the middle of a northern lake on a warm day. The temps were in the mid-80′s which is a tad warm for this area, but the humidity was low, so it was still pleasant.
The boys getting ready to start a fire – always a popular past-time.
This site had a great bear tree. The pack is hung up for the day, relatively safe from critters stealing the food at night.
We left Tettegouche and had final stops in Grand Marais for last minute groceries, permits, bait and the like and hit the water by about noon. We took off from Poplar Lake, where the other duo rented a canoe.
Here we are, moments before we head out.
Here’s the route – we had no specific plan, but the white is the route we ended up taking – Poplar to Lizz to Caribou to Horseshoe for night one camp. Then off to Gaskin to Winchell for 2nd night camp. Then from Winchell to Omega to Henson to Gaskin for 3rd night camp. Finally last day from Gaskin to Jump to Allen to Horseshoe to Caribou to Lizz to Poplar.
Lizz Lake, our official BWCA entry point.
Martin manning the bow.
James, my Dad partner on the trip enjoying a cup o’ morning on Horseshoe Lake.
Martin manning the breakfast griddle with a pancake almost ready to go!
Our campground was within easy walking distance of a number of waterfalls on the Baptism River.
Here’s Two Step Falls in the fading light of day.
A most popular past-time for 10 year-old boys is throwing rocks in water – here you can catch part of the splash of the latest rock to be launched.
Further upstream the boys found a large log that was stuck in the river and first tried to help it downstream, and then later, maneuvered to direct bubbles in the stream.
Martin thought that perhaps using a lever might help the project. This is in front of the High Falls of the Baptism – the highest waterfall in Minnesota – a great place to play.
In the evening, I took a stroll down to the lake to take in the sunset over Lake Superior, and sprinted out to Shovel Point.
The view from Shovel Point, looking back down Lake Superior towards Palisade Head. It was an exceptionally calm and quiet night on the lake. As a native Duluthian who moved away as a toddler, but moved back for high school and undergrad, the lake exerts a pull on me, even after all these years. I was happy to spend even this little bit of time alone on the cliffs overlooking the lake in a rather rare calm and pristine mood.
Martin and I journeyed north with another dad and ten-year old for a father-son wilderness excursion! As it is over 500 miles to the final destination, we took it in a couple of days. The first day we drove to Tettegouche State Park in Northern Minnesota.
There are some nice journeys on the narrow, if not beautiful backroads of the North Shore of Lake Superior.
One of my favorite sightseeing points is Palisade Head, now part of Tettegouche State Park. It’s a wonderful cliff overlooking Lake Superior.
Here, Martin dares to peer over the edge!
Finally, Dad and Martin on the top. Shovel Point is in the distance and a destination for later in the trip.