Friday, May 27, 2016

Franz Jevne State Park

Today Noelle, Sierra and I made last minute plans to head over to our nearest state park: Franz Jevne State Park. We arrived at the park just in time for lunch, and so we started our visit with a picnic along the banks of the Rainy River.
Rainy River
As we ate , we admired the proliferation of wildflowers in bloom nearby, including nodding trillium, bellwort, lots of violets,
white violet
yellow violet
and others.
unknown flower
star flower

After lunch we headed to the campground and started a hike of the Hiking Club Trail
start of hiking club trail
near campsite 15.
hiking girls
The trail led down to the banks of the Rainy River where we found a few boundary markers.
boundry marker
Due to the middle of the river being the international boundary, the markers are placed on land on the American side of the boundary with the understanding that the actual boundary is measured a set distance from the marker. From the trail we spied an intriguing island in the river that I'm guessing is American.
island view
We saw a yellow lady's slipper in bloom,
yellow lady slipper
along with some bunchberry.
We also saw a few frogs
wood frog
frog 2
which Sierra appreciated. Soon enough we got the Hiking Club password and turned around to head back to the car. It was a pleasant visit to Minnesota's smallest state park.
Rainy River 2

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Photo of the Day: Magnolia Warbler

This poor little bird crashed into one of the large picture windows of our rental home. It stayed on the ground panting for a bit, but after a while we noticed it was gone. Hopefully, it's doing okay and fully recovered from its crash.
magnolia warbler

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Superior National Forest: Vermilion Gorge Trail

Today Noelle, Sierra and I made the drive down south to Crane Lake to hike the Vermilion Gorge. We stopped at Subway in International Falls to grab a sandwich for a picnic lunch, which we ate along the shores of Pelican Lake in Orr.
Pelican Lake
picnic at Pelican Lake
Then we headed through the wilds of Northern Minnesota through the small town of Buyck (Bike)
and over to Crane Lake.

The trailhead for this hike is very confusing. The hike starts among the houseboats of the Voyageaire houseboat rental company. At the back of the houseboat storage lot is a snowmobile trail that we followed for a bit. However, the swampy snowmobile trail is not the Vermilion Gorge Trail. There is a sign marked "hiking trail" in the lot, but it was blocked by a houseboat and so we did not see it. I'm sure the workers there knew we were headed to the Vermilion River Gorge, but they did not help orient us in the correct direction when they saw us start our hike.

Once we made it to the actual trail,
Vermillion Gorge Trailhead
the hiking was pleasant.
Noelle on Trail
There were some wildflowers in bloom, including wood anemone
wood anemone
and marsh marigold.
marsh marigold
We crossed a few small bridges
Noelle on bridge
over swampy areas and then started to make our way into the spruce and firs. We found a clump of feathers that we are guessing came from a grouse.
Soon views opened up into a bay of Crane Lake.
Crane Lake view
There were lots of fishermen on their boats in the bay.
fishing down below
We climbed a rough, rocky section of the trail and could soon look down into our destination: the Vermilion River Gorge.
on the trail above gorge

The gorge was impressive. It seemed a bit out of place in Northern Minnesota. We held onto Sierra's hand tightly and got the best views that we could
looking upstream 2 
Vermilion Gorge
before turning around
girls on trail
hiking down 2
to make our way past the mouth of the Vermilion River
mouth of Vermilion River
and back to the trailhead.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Voyageurs National Park: Oberholtzer Trail

We stayed close to home again for our mini-adventure today. Noelle, Sierra and I headed over to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center to hike the Oberholtzer Trail. The trail is named for Ernest Oberholtzer, a conservationist and author who lived across a portion of Rainy Lake from our rental house, on Mallard Island. Of Mallard Island, Oberholtzer wrote "My home all these years has been an acre and a half rocky island in Rainy Lake, half a mile from the Canadian border." Today Mallard Island is home to the Oberholtzer Foundation, which "maintains Ober’s legacy and North Woods island home as a source of inspiration, renewal and connection to Indigenous Peoples, kindred spirits, and the natural world."

Back to the hike though. We began in cool temperatures, under mostly cloudy skies.
start of Oberholtzer Trail
We passed a few trees which were showing off their spring flowers
and headed over to a part of the trail where there is an expansive view of the wetlands that fringe Black Bay.
We crossed a swampy section of trail on bog bridges
on boardwalk
and then headed into the forest. There were a handful of large white pine trees along the side of the trail.
in white pine
The trail splits into two loops. We decided to take the right loop first, across a road and to the Hike to Health "rubber".
near rubber
Sierra was excited to help make the rubbing
doing rubbing
and when she had finished
we continued on through the evergreen forest.
on the trail

We saw a few violets in bloom.
However, we were still a bit early for the spring wildflower show. We saw some columbine that looked as if it will be in bloom in about a week. On the other loop of the trail there is a nice overlook of Black Bay
where one can rest on their choice of two benches. We decided to keep moving. We passed through two boulders, probably glacial erratics,
through the rocks
and soon found ourselves back at the start of the trail.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Voyageurs National Park: Rainy Lake Recreation Trail

Just like yesterday, we decided for an adventure close to home. We headed over to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for me do run a quick errand. We then got out the jogging stroller for a walk on the new Rainy Lake Recreation Trail.
silly in stroller
The trail is pretty awesome. It is smooth, well-graded, and features lots of gentle twists and turns.
Noelle pushes the stroller
There are occasional views out to Black Bay.
Black Bay

This time of year it is a particularly nice walk because there are few insects out, the aspens are leafing out,
trail through aspens
and flowers are starting to bloom. Among the flowers that we observed blooming were an unknown with white clusters
white flowers
and marsh marigold.
marsh marigold
We stopped at the Hike to Health sign
rubbing plate
and, because we remembered to bring our book and a crayon, we got a rubbing of what Sierra called the "rubber".
Sierra does rubbing
We continued on the trail and stopped to read the interpretive signs.
Noelle reads sign
At the end of the trail, near the park entrance, we took a family photo of ourselves at the sign.
family at entrance sign
Then we turned around and headed back to the car.