Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Voyageurs National Park: Kab Ash Trail Salmi Road to Ash River Trail

This was a section of the Kab Ash Trail that lived up to its billing as "the place where hikers go to get lost." I made the short drive down to Salmi Road and promptly hit the trail
entering a maze of old logging roads. Surprisingly, there were a few asters still in bloom.
Overall, its starting to look like the start of our long, northern Minnesota winter.

Though there were lots of roads leading in every which direction, I discovered that if I looked hard enough I would find a blue Kab Ash Trail marker to point the way.
trail marker
Soon I headed into some of the thickest, darkest forest I'd been into in a long time. It reminded me of some of the forests I would see up in the mountains of North Carolina. Then, I left the deep mossy forest and entered into a bright, grassy beaver meadow.
beaver meadow
From there the trail led into a cedar glade.
hiking through cedars
I crossed the Arrowhead Trail,
arrowhead trail
a snowmobile trail and then into a recently logged area.

Finding the trail through the logged area was simply a guessing game on my part, but soon I found a gate across an old road. The gate was marked with National Park Service boundary signs. I would finally cross into the park and immediately found a rusty stove
old stove
and some debris alongside the trail. Perhaps, this was what was left of an old logging camp or hunting camp. I headed back into some cedars
between cedars
and then the trail got really swampy. Just like during yesterday's hike at Franz Jevne State Park, lots of colorful fungi decorated the forest floor.
colorful fungi
mushroom on log

Soon I came to the most interesting part of the hike. It was a large, active beaver pond.
beaver pond 1
There were chomped down trees everywhere near the trail
beaver chewed tree
massive chewed down tree
and one of the most massive beaver lodges I've ever seen.
beaver dam and lodge
A lot of the fallen trees had fresh piles of wood chips alongside, but I never did see any of the resident beavers. As I headed further east the trail soon reached a long section of boardwalk.
boardwalk again
A lot of time and effort went into this trail, yet the trail was in terrible shape. It was very overgrown.

After splashing through more wet areas, I found myself at a stream, Daley Brook.
daley Brook 2
The trail followed along the banks of Daley Brook, crossed it on a snowmobile bridge and then followed the banks again on the other side.
Daley Brook from bridge
I knew I was nearing the park boundary when I saw a sign that said "No hunting or trapping". Sure enough, I soon found myself outside the park
park boundary
and followed a trail to the parking lot on Ash River Trail. I did not have a fun experience on this section of the Kab Ash Trail and decided that I did not want to walk it back to the car. Instead I walked a portion of the Ash River Trail past some golden tamaracks,
and then turned right onto the Arrowhead Trail
trail view
(which wasn't nearly as swampy as the Kab Ash Trail) to make my way back to the car.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Return to Franz Jevne State Park

Even though the day was a bit chilly and overcast, we just had to get outside of the house. We decided to make the drive west to Franz Jevne State Park. We had been there before, back in May. Still, we wanted to see what the park looks like in a different season.  As we made the drive out to the park, it was obvious that the colorful fall leaves that still clung to the trees close to Rain Lake were an anomaly. It pretty much looks like winter out along the banks of the Rainy River.

We started our visit with lunch at a picnic table. Sierra and I did some exploring nearby and found one of the small international boundary markers.
Sierra and a US border monument at #franzjevnestatepark .
Then we hit the trail, starting with a short road walk
walking road
before stepping onto a footpath.
start of trail
There were lots of colorful fungi on the forest floor among the fallen leaves.
colorful fungus
No wildflowers in bloom anymore, even the goldenrod has gone to seed.
goldenrod seed head
Our route followed closely to the southern boundary of the park
holding hands
before turning nearly 180 degrees and heading back along the Rainy River.

We took a side path to where we had found the Hiking Club password on our last visit, to find a great view of the Rainy River
Rainy River
and an eagle flying across into Canada. There was a large eagle nest in an aspen tree (that seems a bit unusual) on the American side.
eagles nest
Sierra spent much of her time looking for colorful leaves. She left them in special places along the trail so that the animals could use them as "blankets".
Sierra and her Go Pack Go leaf
Soon we found the "rock outcropping" marked on the map.
rock outcrop
I took a side trip to investigate it a bit and found the park's official geocache in the process. I took one of the "Call of the Wildflowers" cards as a memento.
wildflower card

A short walk later and we were back at the start of our hike where Sierra decided she needed to pump some water.
pumping water
Then it was the long drive home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Exploring Fort Frances, Ontario

Since Noelle and I got our NEXUS cards about a month ago, we've had the chance to make it across the Rainy River to explore International Falls' sister town of Fort Frances, Ontario a few times. Today I decided to head back over there to walk a loop that included La Verendrye Parkway
La Verendrye Parkway
and Scott Street, the main drag through town. It was chilly, windy and overcast. Still the walk along the parkway was pleasant and I got to see some of the sights that Fort Frances is known for, including the Hallet Logging Tugboat
and the Lookout Tower.
I enjoyed reading all the interpretive plaques that have been posted along the trail.
NW Mounted Police
With all the picnic shelters, it would be a very pleasant place to return in the summer.
There's even a metal sculpture of the famous Rainy Lake Mermaid.

I made my way east to Point Park. Noelle, Sierra and I had visited this site with Noelle's mom and our friends Jeff and Tish. There are a bunch of monuments in the park including monuments to the Pither family,
Pither monument
La Verendrye,
Verendrye sign
and a monument marking the site of Fort St. Pierre. 
Fort St. Pierre
There is also a "big chair" where Noelle, Sierra and I had our photo taken back in September.
Fort Frances chair
Finally, there is a great view of the lift bridge that carries railroad traffic across the Rainy River International Boundary
border reference
 from the United States into Canada.
international bridge

After a short time at Point Park I made my way through some neighborhoods to Scott Street. The portions of Scott Street close to the international border are designated as the "Great Canadian Main Street".
Great Canadian Mainstreet
There are lots of shops and restaurants including the delicious Flint House where Noelle, Sierra and I ate a week ago. I slowly made my way back to the bridge across the border, past the Fort Frances Visitor Center where in September we had posed with the taxidermy moose.
3 generations moose

Monday, October 10, 2016

Voyageurs National Park: Ash River Area Exploration

It was another beautiful fall day. We headed down to the Ash River section of Voyageurs National Park to do some exploring. Our first stop was the Voyageurs Forest Overlook Trail. At .5 miles in length it's pretty short. Right off the bat, we picked up the Hike To Health rubbing,
Hike to Health rubbing
then we headed into the forest
hiker Sierra
among the yellow aspen leaves.
Like I mentioned, the trail is short. However, there is a very steep section
Noelle descends
that makes the hike a little bit more difficult than one would anticipate. After we were done, we ate lunch at a picnic table in the parking lot.
eating snack

After lunch, we made our way past blooming black-eyed Susan,
black eyed Susan
over to the Sullivan Bay Trail. We had previously hiked this trail back in May. However, we did not bring our Hike to Health passport and so we set out to hike it again,
2 hikers
this time with beautiful fall colors decorating the trees. After making the rubbing,
Sullivan Bay rubbing
we spent some time admiring the view from the picnic table there.
Sullivan Bay Overlook
A loon constantly dove and resurfaced, putting on a show for us. After watching the loon for a bit, we hit the trail
walking Sullivan Bay
and headed back to the car.

At the parking lot we decided that since we were already there, and since it was a beautiful day, we might as well hike the short Beaver Pond Overlook Trail. It was definitely worth it!
A nice family #hiking day in the Ash River section of #voyageursnationalpark .
We quickly returned to the car and headed a short distance further down the road to the Kabetogama Lake Overlook. It was another short hike in autumn splendor,
Walking to Kabetogama Lake Overlook
past a chattering red squirrel
red squirrel
to the beautiful overlook of Kabetogama Lake.
Kabetogama Lake Overlook
Again we spent some time relaxing and admiring the view before our return to the car.

Our last stop for the day took us to the secret Levin Cabin.
Levin Cabin
It is a beautiful, old cabin that the park acquired some time ago and park officials did not have the heart to tear it down. We went inside to check it out
Inside Levin Cabin
and explored the grounds for a bit, including the unique water storage/delivery system.
Soon it was time to get back into the car for the drive home.