Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Last Trip up the North Shore

Resting on way to Mt. Josephine

With our upcoming move down to the desert, Noelle and I wanted to make one more trip up the North Shore of Lake Superior. With hot temperatures forecast for the weekend we thought the cool temperatures near the shores of the big lake would help keep us cool. And so, this morning we pointed the Civic north and headed up Highway 61. Our first stop was the pebbly beach at Beaver Bay. On a previous trip to this beach I had found lots of decent sized agates. I thought Noelle would appreciate the chance to find some and so we parked along the highway and walked down the steep, muddy path to the beach.
Beaver Bay

While we didn't find many impressive agates, there were a lot of small agate fragments scattered about and Parker seemed to enjoy watching the small waves.

From Beaver Bay, we headed further north for a stop at the closed (due to the Minnesota government shutdown) Tettegouche State Park. I had wanted to see what remained of the sea arch on Lake Superior that had collapsed last August.
Sea Stack at Tettegouche

It's hard to believe that neither of us had been there since the collapse. (See the arch pre-collapse here.) We spent a few minutes relaxing on the Superior shore there before returning to the car and heading further north still.

The next stop was the small rest area/parking lot at what used to be called the Ray Berglund State Wayside. I'm not sure if it still is a wayside, but there are no signs there and the trail that once traveled alongside the Onion River seemed to be unmaintained, at least in some places. We climbed up a steep hillside on slippery rock scree to a flat powerline clearing and then headed into the woods where we closely followed the Onion River. Soon we could see what appeared to be three small waterfalls. There did not seem to be a good way to get down to them though. Eventually we found a faint path that led gradually down to an overlook of the largest of the falls.
Onion River Falls

They were quite impressive.

After returning to the car, we drove on to Grand Marais for lunch. We got a Sven and Oles Wild Rice Pizza and ate it on the beach.
Sven and Ole's

Refreshed, we moved on to Grand Portage and set out to hike up Mt. Josephine. The trail was difficult to find. After driving up and down County Highway 17 we ended up going to the Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Center to ask for directions. We parked it the edge of a grassy field filled with wildflowers and then walked an old road into the woods. Soon a trail was visible and we followed it steeply uphill. It was a bit overgrown at times. Once at the top of the "mountain" we walked around on the various user trails and found some nice overlooks
Mt. Josephine

and an the ruins of an old fire lookout's cabin.
Lookout Cabin Ruins

A cool breeze as we descended really helped us out it bit. It was oppressively hot, especially for northern Minnesota.

Finally back at the car we drove back south and headed into the Superior National Forest to find a campsite for the night. I was worried we might have a difficult time finding one. However, despite the fact that it was Saturday night and state parks are closed, we had the Kimball Lake Campground all to ourselves. We grabbed a site right on the lake and after setting up camp I headed right to the lake for a swim.
Eric Swims Kimball Lake

After dinner we walked to nearby Mink Lake
Eric at Mink Lake

and watched the sunset over Kimball.
Kimball Lake Sunset

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