Last night Noelle and I packed up the ol' family truckster (in metallic blue raspberry) and headed north to the "Icebox of the Nation" International Falls, Minnesota.
This morning our first stop was the only park visitor center open for the winter where we obtained the obligatory park passport stamps and looked at the exhibits in the visitor center all the while dodging snowmobile clothing and helmets which reeked of exhaust. From the VC we had a nice hike on the packed snow Oberholzer Trail which starts just outside the visitor center. The trail was not all that exciting but we enjoyed being outside and walking on a beautiful, cold, winter day.
After our hike and a bathroom we pointed the old Civic right into Rainy Lake and drove on the frozen surface. I think with the experience of driving an ice road Noelle and I can now truly consider ourselves to be Northlanders! Our destination on the ice road was the trailhead for the Black Bay ski trails. After a wrong turn and a few dodges of ice shacks and snowmobiles we had safely arrived.
The ski trail was very nice. It was a challenging ski, but not too much so. We had skied the first two loops of the trail when we made our way back to the frozen water parking lot. At this point we were in the mood for more adventure. I had heard that a small island just off the mainland had the remains of a gold mine and some mining equipment and so we headed to a nearby boat ramp where we planned to ski to this place called Little American Island.
The ski to Little American Island was fun and easy on the frozen snow covered lake surface. We first skied to a cluster of two very small islands close to shore. One of the islands was posted as private property but we found an old rock wall poking through the snow on the other. Was this Little American Island? I wasn't convinced and so I talked Noelle into skiing over to another nearby island.
As we approached the other island and skied around it I noticed what appeared to be man-made trenches blasted into the rock and I also noticed a lot of human foot traffic evidence in the snow. Sure enough as we turned a corner we found a large sign announcing that this island was indeed our destination.
We ditched the skis and spent a few minutes poking around before skiing back to the mainland.