Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gooseberry Falls State Park: Fifth Falls Ice Caves

Headed out of Duluth and up the North Shore for the first time in months and the first adventure of 2011. Our destination, my ole place of employment Gooseberry Falls to hike along the Gooseberry River and check out the frozen Fifth Falls and some ice caves that I saw pictures of while working over the past summer. After the heavy rains we had a few days ago and the present cold temperatures I figured we would not need our snowshoes and my assumption was correct. The trail was a solid mas of ice covered with about 2 inches of snow which made for some easy walking and it meant the Parker would have an easy walk as well.

We parked the car, used the restroom and then hit the trail paralleling the unusually high Gooseberry River. I was really surprised to see so much water flowing given it is early January and the local rivers are usually frozen solid this time of year. The sound of the rushing water however, proved to make for some nice background noise as we made our way upstream.

Soon, we were at our destination, Fifth Falls. The high water level meant that the river would be too dangerous to cross to get to the main ice "caves", but we were able to observe them from the opposite side of the river.

I was also able to safely cross a narrow section of flowing water to get to two smaller ice caves and explore a bit. There were lots of icicles hanging from the ceilings and even a few small ice stalagmites.

After a few minutes of exploration we crossed the river on a footbridge and followed the snowshoe trail downstream and back to the parking lot.

As we headed back towards Two Harbors we noticed a ship heading into port  and decided to watch it pull into the ore docks. I'd imagine it will probably be one of the last of the 2010-2011shipping season.  

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