Sunday, January 27, 2019

Photo of the Day: The Wolf

Today at work, I just happened to be tending the fire in the woodburning stove when I noticed what at first appeared to be a dog walk nearby to the visitor center. I walked over to the window to get a closer look and realized it wasn't just any dog, but a wolf; Canis lupus! Quickly I ran to get the park camera with zoom lens and hustled back to the window. The wolf had walked out to the end of the snow-covered boat dock, but didn't seem to find a way to get down off of it to the frozen lake surface a few feet below. It turned around and started heading back towards the visitor center. I ran out onto the patio and was lucky enough to snap this photo (along with 3 others that did not turn out nearly as good). Then I observed the wolf walk down onto the ice and trot across the frozen surface of Black Bay to the Kabetogama Peninsula. It was an experience I will never forget!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Skiing Fort Frances' 8th Street Trails

Government Shutdown, day 31. Since the Voyageurs National Park Association has been paying to open the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for the past few weekends, I haven't had any mutual days off with Sierra. Today, being the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I finally had a day off with my daughter. Noelle, Sierra and I decided to take advantage of it with a day of skiing.

Originally, we were going to go down to Grand Rapids to ski a trail in that area and go grocery shopping at Aldi. It's difficult to justify a 2.5 hour drive and all the associated gasoline when you haven't gotten paid in 3 weeks and you don't know when you're going to get paid next. Instead we opted to stay closer to home with a trip across the border to the 8th Street Trails in Fort Frances. Since we had some Canadian cash on hand, we figured we could even justify going out to eat for the first time this year. We wouldn't be dipping into our bank account for a meal.

It was a quick drive to the trailhead and then we hit the trails.
I really enjoyed skiing there.
We did the first 2 loops. Sierra was a little bit disappointed that there weren't any hills, but the trail itself was narrow and wound through an interesting landscape.
A good portion of the trails meandered through a boggy wetland that we had hiked back in the fall of 2016.
Altogether we skied about 3 kilometers. It was just the right length for Sierra.
It was pretty obvious that she was starting to get a bit tired towards the end, and she kept falling. After getting back into the car we drove over to DQ for our Canadian lunch and then back into the Falls to relax a bit before dinner.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard 5k 2019

It was a cold night last night. Temperatures bottomed out at -38F. This morning, about a half an hour before the start of the race, the temperature reading was still only -33F.
Icebox Days would live up to its name this year!

I bundled up and headed out.
It was too cold for Noelle and Sierra to come out to cheer me on. The race started at promptly 9 am with the start time temperature at -31F! This would be the coldest run of my life.
Considering how little training I did for this race, I feel I did pretty well. I came in 8th overall, with a time of 24:09. That comes out to about a 7:46 pace per mile. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Voyageurs National Park: Nordic Skating Black Bay

Today I had an unexpected day off and used it as an opportunity to try some Nordic ice skating on Black Bay with a coworker.
With about 3 inches of snow on the icy surface of the bay, I wasn't sure we would be able to successfully skate. However, the conditions turned out to be skatable, though the snow cover made it difficult to judge ice conditions.

We parked at the boat ramp parking area and walked our way down to the ice where we changed into our skates. Then we headed off in southeasterly direction headed for Reuter Creek.
We enjoyed stopping now and then along the way and admiring the scenery,
and even found a bay with some nice, exceptionally smooth ice that we skated around in for a while.
Then we headed up into Reuter Creek. We checked out a beaver lodge with an opening and faint path in the snow leading to it.
The path led to a perfectly round hole in the ice and as we approached it I saw a beaver dive into the hole.
We headed a little but further up the creek before turning around and starting to make our way back to the car. Along the way we admired some ice formations along the rocky shoreline
and had another skating session on the section of smooth ice we had skated on earlier.

It was a fun way to spend a winter afternoon and got me excited for more skating adventures. Right now snow is just about at the maximum depth for good skating, but the forecast does not call for any measurable snow and so I think I might get in a few more skating sessions before I have to wait for the ice road to get plowed in.   

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Grunwald Family Christmas Tree 2018

We went out to the Saunders U Cut Tree Farm again this year and got ourselves a beautiful spruce for the holiday season. It was a pretty drive and search as snow decorated the landscape. We spent about 20 minutes walking through a small section of the farm before Sierra spotted the "perfect tree" and I cut her down with the saw. After strapping it to the car and paying our $12 we headed home where we got the tree set up in the dining room.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Koochiching State Forest: Ice Skating Moose Lake

A little over a week ago I purchased a pair of hockey skates. Despite the fact that we've had some really cold weather lately, none of the rinks in town have been flooded yet. Still, I've been itching to get out and skate for the first time in years. Today, I had my chance. I packed up my gear (skates, ice picks, trekking pole) and set out for Moose Lake near Littlefork, Minnesota. Being a small, shallow lake, I figured Moose would be frozen solid enough for skating, and I was not disappointed.

It was a bit of an adjustment, considering I haven't skated in years.
My lack of recent experience, combined with an uneven ice surface with snow cover made for a bit of a
 learning curve.

Still, about an hour after I began my skating session, I was starting to feel more confident in my abilities.
I'm looking forward to a winter of skating on ice roads and neighborhood rinks!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Bluffside Park: Lower Loop Hike

It was raining (and even snowing a bit) this morning, so we spent a good portion of the day cooped up in the house. After about 1 pm the sun started to pole through the clouds a bit though and so Noelle, Mom, Sierra and I opted to get out of the house for a bit.

We headed back over to Winona. This time we would explore Bluffside Park a bit. Today has been much colder than the previous few days and so we were bundled up a bit. Still, the colorful leaves made for a nice walk in the woods. We didn't walk too far, just most of the lower loop trail. I believe it is marked as the "Rollers" on the trail map. We probably spent about an hour and a half hiking.