Thursday, August 26, 2010
When we got back to the car we decided to check out part of the reason for the Grand Portage's existence: the High Falls of the Pigeon River. The drive up to the northeastern-most section of Minnesota is very scenic, featuring some very rugged topography. The hike at Grand Portage State Park was a short mile round-trip hike along a gentle, paved trail. The falls themselves were impressive and it was easy to see why a portage would have been necessary.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This morning we woke up bright and early and hit the road. We made it to Grand Marais where we got coffee and muffin tops for breakfast and then drove up to Grand Portage. Our first stop was the Heritage Center where we checked out the exhibits and watched a short film about the monument. Then we headed over to the reconstructed fur post. It was interesting to see how life in the late 1700s and early 1800s in the frontier would have been. We attended a short program on how people throughout history have started fires and saw one of the interpreters playing bagpipes as well.
After touring the post we obtained a permit to camp at the Fort Charlotte site. It would be an 8.5 mile hike from the Heritage Center to our campsite.
The hiking was pleasant and the weather was gorgeous. We saw a few birds and chipmunks, but none of the moose or wolves we were really hoping to see. The most interesting part of the hike occurred when the portage trail passed near a beaver pond. While the resident beaver(s) were nowhere to be found, it was interesting to look around at the plants and birds.
Soon after leaving the beaver pond area, we arrived at the Fort Charlotte site where we set up camp and explored a little bit. Fort Charlotte was the site of the beginning of the portage around the waterfalls and rapids of the Pigeon River.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
After some agate hunting I headed up to Tettegouche State Park where I drove up Palisade Head for the first time. Wow!
There are some great views from the top of the road and some even better views from the summit of the rocky hill. I drove down the hill after about an hour exploring and walking up and down the trail-less summit. I then drove to rest area and visitor center for the start of an ambitious 9 mile hike.
My hike started out with a walk along the Baptism River. I stopped and ate lunch at Two Step Falls before heading upstream.
I passed yet another lake, this one called Nipisiquit Lake. I stopped for a drink of water at a picnic table set up there before continuing on. I soon saw a couple of dead moles along the trail. There was no sign of how they might have died though. The most exciting part of the hike came when I saw a Pine Marten on the trail. As I approached it ran up a tree. I was able to get some good photographs of it before I continued on back to my car.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
|False Sunflower (note the disc flowers)|
|Wild Hops, yes the same hops used in brewing beer!|
The gall shown in the last photo was made by an insect called a Goldenrod Gall Fly. It spends its entire life around (or inside of) goldenrod plants. The female goldenrod gall fly will make a small incision into the stem of the plant and lay her eggs inside. When the larvae hatch from the eggs they begin to eat the plant tissues. Their saliva contains a chemical that mimics goldenrod growth hormones and the gall forms as a result.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
|Noelle and Big Manitou Falls|
|Noelle and White Pine|
|Eric at the Top of Little Manitou Falls|
Thursday, August 5, 2010
From Franconia Sculpture Park I headed north into Minnesota's Interstate State Park to the canoe landing. There I rented a kayak for a trip on the beautiful St. Croix River. When I put in I first headed upstream and into part of the Dalles where tall granite cliffs tower over the river. Then I headed downstream, letting the slow current aid me in my paddling.
Franconia Sculpture Park and if you ever find yourself in Taylors Falls, Minnesota definitely give the place a visit. I would describe it as a combination of Carhenge, Cadillac Ranch and the Louvre. A cool place to explore and I even think that I would have enjoyed it as a kid.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
From Taylors Falls I headed further south to Marine on St. Croix. In town I checked out the very unimpressive Marine Mill historic site. It is the first mill built in Minnesota but you can't even see it at the site. I don't know if things have gotten too overgrown or if it has crumbled to oblivion, but I was very disappointed. From the mill site I headed to William O'Brien State Park where I hiked the 6 mile long Hiking Club loop.
The trail traversed some beautiful prairies and the park reminded me of a bit of a combination of the two previous parks I've worked in McConnell Springs and Wind Cave National Park.
On my hike I went over the 75 mile mark in the Hiking Club and so obtained my new patch at the contact station when I registered for my campsite for the night.