Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Greetings from Duluth!

We got about 24 inches of snow while Noelle and I were down in Galesville. Someone was nice enough to shovel it for us while we were gone! The snow is covered with a hard, crusty ice layer that makes for some difficult shoveling. maybe we'll be able to start some skiing soon!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hiking with Friends in the Snow

This morning Noelle and I drove down to the Twin Cities metro area to visit with our friends Amy and Jami (and Archer too). We spent time talking and catching up and we even got to go for a hike in the snow and Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Fun!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gooseberry Falls State Park: Hiking Club Trail & Two Harbors

Today I had the urge to do some more hiking. I had to work at 6pm so I decided to get a relatively early start. I woke up, ate breakfast and then hit the road to Gooseberry Falls. I hiked the short, 2 mile Hiking Club Trail there. The trail was somewhat interesting and I'd never been on it before. It climbed up to a plateau with views overlooking the Gooseberry River and Lake Superior. The hike also contained an interesting piece of history, an old outhouse that is reputed to be the last remaining CCC camp toilet.

After completing my hike, I still had plenty of time before I had to be at work. I decided to head into Two Harbors and check out the Lakewalk Trail.
Two Harbors Lighthouse

Two Harbors Ore Docks

I had been on part of it before in the summer of 2005 when we were up for a friend's wedding. This time was colder, but I did get to spend more time exploring a bit.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Forest History Center: Christmas in a Logging Camp

Today Noelle and I drove west to Grand Rapids and the Forest History Center for their special Christmas in a 1900 Logging Camp event. The event featured horse-drawn sleigh rides, a tour of the logging camp, hot cider, cookies, and crafts. We enjoyed the sleigh ride even though there was not enough snow on the ground for the real sleigh. instead it was a horse drawn carriage ride. The fresh coating of snow on the ground did give the camp a real holidays feel though.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club

A few weeks ago I learned about this hiking club that is organized by Minnesota State Parks. Basically, how it works is you get a little book that you take with you to the different state parks. Each state park has a specially designated Hiking Club trail. You hike the trail and at the mid-point of the hike is a sign with a special code word on it.
You then record the park, distance hiked, and the code word. After you've hiked 25 miles you take your book to the ranger and you can earn a 25 miles hiked patch. The same thing happens after you've hiked 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and all the Hiking Club trails.

When I heard about this, I thought it sounded perfect. It was a chance to hike and have a little bit of fun while doing it. A few days ago my Hiking Club packet arrived in the mail. Today I was determined to get started earning miles. I drove over to the closest state park, Jay Cooke, where I hiked the 3.5 mile Hiking Club trail. It was nice to hike with a little bit of snow on the ground. It didn't take too long to hike the short distance and so I decided to drive to the next closest state park, Moose Lake, which I had never been to before.

The hike at Moose Lake was a short 2 miles and not all that interesting. I did, however, check out the interesting geology museum there. They had a lot of really amazing Lake Superior agates on display. Why can't I ever find one like these?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gallop 2009

This Thanksgiving morning Noelle and I drove down to Superior Street for the Gobble Gallop 5k. I had not trained a whole lot for this race and it is obvious from the results. I ran my slowest 5k ever. I didn't even break 21 minutes. My time was over two minutes slower than the time of my previous 5k. I think the cold may also have played a role in my poor time. I just don't seem to run very well in the cold. I felt like I had absolutely no speed. Oh well, I did enjoy the run. Results can be found here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2009-10

The past two nights Noelle and I attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. If you think that Eric and Noelle go on some crazy adventures, well boy you ain't seen nothin'. Among my favorite films were one about a man riding a tandem bicycle the length of the Americas and another about whitewater kayaking Africa. If the festival stops by your hometown I'd recommend a visit.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hartley Nature Center: Rock Knob & Hartley Road Trail

On this beautiful Friday Noelle and I decided to get out of the house for a hike. We didn't want to go too far away and so we agreed that Hartley would be our best bet. We grabbed a pack and the dog and then made the short drive over to Hartley. We hiked to Rock Knob which happens to be a side trail of the Superior Hiking Trail. The top of the knob offered a great view.

From there we decided to hike around the knob and then follow the Hartley Road Trail back to the parking lot. We got a little bit disoriented on the confusing Hartley trails, however, and ended up hiking further than we had planned. All turned out to be okay, and other than some muddy boots the detour turned out to be great.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park

I was in the mood to go hiking today, with beautiful weather and no job. However, I knew that it is still deer rifle season and so I got on the internet to find a place where I could safely go hiking. I was originally thinking I would just hike a side trail to the SHT here in Duluth, but when I got on the Superior Hiking Trail Association website, I noticed that the trails at George H. Crosby/Manitou State park are open to hiking during the hunting season.

I quickly packed my pack and hit the road to the north shore. It was a fairly long drive for a short walk of about 3 miles. However, the scenery was pretty amazing with the cascades of the Manitou River and the dazzling blue of Lake Superior. it felt good to be outside as well. As much as I'm enjoying the late season hiking, I'm ready to start skiing. Noelle and I have decided to get ourselves some classical, nordic equipment for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lester Park: The Shallows

Today Noelle, Parker, and I went back to Lester Park. This time we decided to check out "The Shallows". I had no idea what might be there, and thinking that it was just a wide, shallow, section of the Lester River, I was pleasantly surprised to see a waterfall crashing down into a shallow pool. From the Shallows, we retraced our steps to a footbridge crossing the river and then took a short detour on some XC-ski trails. Finally we found ourselves at the Deeps, where we followed the hiking trail back to the car. Lester Park has to be my favorite of Duluth's great parks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: Edmund Fitzgerald Commemoration

Today Noelle and I drove up the North Shore to attend the Edmund Fitzgerald Commemoration at Split Rock Lighthouse. We left Duluth at around 12:30 and ate lunch at Culver's in Two harbors. From there we drove north past Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

When we arrived at the park we first went for a hike, a short two-miler, up and around Day Hill. There were several areas along the hike to stop and check out the awesome views.

After our hike we went to the Split Rock Lighthouse State Historical Site. We toured the lighthouse on our own before watching a video about the Edmund Fitzgerald, a 729 foot long steamer that sank off Whitefish Point, Michigan in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Twenty-nine men lost their lives when the ship went down. At 4:30 they read the names of each man who perished rang a bell in their honor, and then rang the bell a 30th time to honor all those who have lost their lives in Lake Superior. The lighthouse beacon was then lit, the only time this happens each year.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pattison State Park: Big Falls Trail

With wonderful weather predicted for today, Noelle and I just knew that we had to get outside. Since the deer rifle hunting season started in Minnesota today, we headed east into Wisconsin to a wonderful state park called Pattison State Park. Since we brought Parker with us, our hiking options were limited. We did, however, get to see the two main attractions of the park: Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls.

We were also able to hike with Parker on the Big Falls Trail which goes past the Big Manitou Falls (fourth tallest waterfall east of the Rockies) and descends a gorge down to pleasant section of the Black River. The river itself is aptly named as it is a dark brown in color due to the water's high tannin content. We enjoyed a few minutes at the edge of the river before returning to the car for a short drive to Little Manitou Falls.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Western Waterfront Trail and Grassy Point

I had thought about going for a bicycle ride today when I heard that it was going to be sunny. However, I didn't take into account the temperature. It only made it up into the upper 30s. I could have ridden but it wouldn't have been a whole lot of fun. In stead I decided to take a walk along the Western Waterfront Trail. I had seen signs for the trail when driving along Grand Avenue and so I set out for the west side of Duluth this morning.

Soon enough I was on Grand Avenue and saw the sign for the trail. When I followed the sign though, it did not lead me to any trail. I decided to try and find my own way to the trail and instead ended up at a different city trail at Grassy Point. I decided I would hike this short Grassy Point Trail. It was a pleasant trail that made its way through cattails along a boardwalk to an overlook of the St. Louis River.
Grassy Point Boardwalk

From there I headed back to the car.

At this point I decided to give my search for the Western Waterfront Trail another try. This time my persistence paid off. I parked at the Willard Munger Trailhead and hiked around Indian Point before paralleling the St. Louis River. The trail offered great views of the river and I look forward to returning to hike the section of trail that I missed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Superior Hiking Trail: Jay Cooke State Park Section

Today I finished hiking the last section of the SHT in the Duluth area. I have to admit, however, that this section of the trail was the least interesting that I've hiked so far. For most of the hike I really felt that I was just hiking to get it done. I guess it didn't help that the weather was overcast. I made it the 6.6 miles from the Grand Portage Trail parking lot to the terminus at the visitor center in a little over 2 hours. On the way back to the car I switched things up a little bit by straying from the SHT and traveling on other trails whenever possible.

I passed through a protected area called hemlock Ravine which protects the westernmost population of eastern hemlocks. They are quite isolated from other stands of hemlocks and I wonder if this isolation will protect them from the hemlock wooly adelgid? In any case I didn't see any hemlocks on my walk, but the sun did peek through the clouds for a bit on the return hike.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congdon Park

Noelle, Parker and I visited another one of Duluth's great city parks today. This time it was Congdon Park. What an amazing place. Here Tischer Creek has cut a deep gorge through pink rhyolite. It is a dramatic place, especially considering it is in the city. Noelle and I really enjoyed hiking the trail and checking out the scenery. Parker, however, was more impressed with the opportunities for squirrel watching and sniffing. We all had fun on this great hike.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tettegouche State Park: Shovel Point/High Falls

I hadn't planned on going hiking today, but with beautiful blue skies beckoning outside I decided to go for a drive up MN 61 and check out a part of the North Shore I'd never been to before, Tettegouche State Park. Even though all the leaves are off the trees, the drive was beautiful and I saw a few bald eagles along the way.

I arrived at the State Park Visitor Center/Rest Area (kinda weird), and parked the car. Soon I was on the trail to Shovel Point and the hiking was slow going. Slow not because of tough terrain, but because there was just so much beautiful scenery to look at. I stopped at a rocky Lake Superior Beach and then headed over to Shovel Point where I ate my turkey sandwich lunch at one of the overlooks.
Shovel Point

From there I continued on the trail and made my way back to the parking lot.

I didn't get back into the car at the parking lot though. Instead I kept hiking up to Two-step Falls and High Falls.
Both impressive sights with the Baptism River swollen with water. I even found a great pair of sunglasses along the trail!
After the falls I headed further out to an overlook and then with snow starting to fall (it's amazing how quick the weather changes here) I decided to cut my intended hike short. Instead of heading to Mic Mac Lake I took a short cut and visited Nipisquit Lake instead before heading back to the car.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gooseberry Falls State Park: Fifth Falls Loop

It was flurrying as we got into the car and headed up the North Coast. However, we lucked out and by the time we arrived at Gooseberry Falls State Park the clouds had parted and the sunshine and blue skies made their presence felt. We hiked upstream along the Gooseberry River to Fifth Falls and then back downstream on the opposite side of the river. When we got back to the visitor center area, we checked out the Middle and Lower Falls on the Falls Loop Trail.

After our hike was over we were hungry, so naturally we headed over to Betty's Pies for lunch. I got some cherry pie for dessert while Noelle opted for the Bumbleberry. Both were delicious. From Betty's, we headed south on 61 to Flood Bay wayside where we looked for Lake Superior Agates. We found many small ones, but no large ones. Another great day in the great outdoors.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Walking Tour of Duluth, Minnesota

It was raining pretty hard this morning, but a little bit after noon the sun came out. I felt I just had to take advantage of the sunshine, and so I grabbed Parker's leash and treats and we headed out the door for a long walk. I didn't really have a destination in mind when we first set out, but then I decided to check out the park with gazebo I'd seen a few days previously when driving along Mesaba. It turns out the park's name is Cascade Park, and while I did not see any cascades in the park, it did offer wonderful views of Duluth.
Cascade Park Gazebo

From Cascade Park, Parker and I headed further down the big hill to the Lakewalk and Canal Park. We had great timing too. We got there just as a 1,000 footer passed through the canal, and then we got to see a much shorter ship pass through as well. Parker seemed to enjoy the walking and he got a lot of attention from the people in the park as well.

Beluga Fidelity

From Cascade park it was a long uphill walk (a bit tough for Parker) back home. When we got there we were treated to the sight of a rainbow!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lester Park: The Deeps

Today Noelle, Parker, and I visited another one of Duluth's many excellent city parks. This time we headed east to Lester Park where two branches of the Lester River converge. Because the water here flows down rocky hillside creeks, there is plenty of scenery to look at on the walk. We started out on the trail and followed a branch of the river to the spot where the two branches converge and then headed upstream to what is called "The Deeps" where a fairly tall waterfall plunges into a deep pool. In the summertime swimmers are known to jump into the pool below the falls.

On a cool day like today, however, we saw no one attempting such a stunt.

It is a very pleasant, short hike though. Noelle wasn't feeling completely well and so we opted not to hie to "The Shallows." We'll have to save that for our next visit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jay Cooke State Park: CCC Trail and Thomson Pioneer Cemetery

Today was a beautiful day, and so I went back to Jay Cooke State Park. I didn't go alone today though, Noelle came with me. Before we set off on the trails though, we went to the Cozy Restaurant and Lounge for lunch. Noelle and I both got the same thing: the Cozy Sandwich. It was very good. Ham, turkey, melted cheddar, horseradish and cranberry sauce. Yum!

After lunch we hit the trail. We went to the suspension bridge to check things out before a short hike along the CCC trail. Then we hiked over to the Thomson Pioneer Cemetery before returning to the car. A great day to be outside.