Monday, May 30, 2011

Wisconsin's Concrete County Park

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A few weeks ago Noelle had gone to Goodman, Wisconsin for an assignment for school. On the way home she passed through Philips and visited this place with her friend and classmate Gayle. Noelle showed me some photos that she took of the concrete statues there and I knew that I had to go there to see them for myself.
Noelle holding hands

I am really glad I did. I really enjoy stuff like this. It reminds me a little bit of Carhenge or Franconia Sculpture Park. Best of all, the place is free and we even got a free bumper sticker! Here are some photos of Wisconsin's Concrete County Park. Enjoy!
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Return to Timms Hill

Today Noelle and made the drive from Wausaukee back to Duluth. It's a long drive and instead of making it a straight trip we decided to break it up with a stop for a hike and a trip to Wisconsin's Concrete County Park. While we have visited Timms Hill before, we've never done much of a hike up it. We were determined to change that today.

From Wausaukee it was a pleasant drive through small northern Wisconsin towns like Laona and Goodman. When we reached the Timms Hill area we realized that we needed to get some water and so stopped at a place called Highpoint Village. While the restaurant there was closed, we just happened to pull into the parking lot when the owner was there and he kindly filled up our water bottles for us. It looked like a nice place and maybe we'll head back again some time when it is open.

Timms Hill from Bass Lake

After getting our water bottles filled and snapping a photo of Timms Hill from across Bass Lake, we set out to find the starting point for our hike, a small cemetery. The trail marker at the road crossing there is so inconspicuous that we missed it at first, but saw it upon our second pass.
THT Trailhead

From there the trail cut through a person's yard and then headed into the woods. We climbed up some glacial features and soon passed a few small lakes.
Little Bass Lake

We crossed a county road and soon started to ascend in earnest. before we knew it we were on top of Wisconsin.
USGS Survey Marker

It was Parker's third state highpoint along with Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Summit

Noelle and I took turns climbing up the observation tower and after a short rest we made our way back to the car. It was the warmest, most humid weather we'd hiked in in a long time. Parker did great though.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

LaSalle Falls, Wisconsin

Friday after work, Noelle, Parker and I packed up the Subaru and headed east into Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and back into Wisconsin headed to Noelle's relative's house in Wausaukee, Wisconsin. We were headed there for Noelle's cousin Leah's graduation party. We had a great time at the party yesterday and today we were ready to do some hiking. After consulting our guide book we decided on hiking to LaSalle Falls which is outside of Florence, Wisconsin.

After a pleasant drive to the trailhead during which we saw a porcupine, we hit the trail.
Hiking to LaSalle Falls

The woods in northern Wisconsin are just loaded with trillium this time of the year.
Trillium

In some areas it seemed to blanket the forest floor. We also saw some fringed polygala
Fringed Polygala

and jack-in-the pulpit as well.
Jack-in-the Pulpit

Soon we made it to a fork in the trail. A sign indicated a side trip to a gorge overlook. The gorge formed by the Pine River was interesting, but difficult to get to.
Pine River Gorge

Parker and I scaled a steep cliff wall to get down to the river and a nice view.

After checking out the gorge we headed further upstream and could soon hear the waterfall. Unfortunately, there is not a really good vantage point from which to see the falls, but we were able to stand at the brink of the falls and watch them plunge into a pool below.
Noelle at Brink of Falls

Eric at Brink of Falls

There were also some nice little cascades above the falls which we spent a few moments exploring.
Pine River Rapids

After a few minutes at the falls we returned to the car for the drive back to Wausaukee.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Moose Mountain Scientific and Natural Area

Moose Mountain Overlook

Originally Noelle and I had planned on going on a road trip this weekend. We were leaning towards visiting Itasca State Park again to do some hiking in a less buggy environment than the one that existed on our previous visit. However, with a high chance of rain for the weekend we changed our plans and decided to stay home. We used a break in the rain to get outside and do some exploration of the nearby Moose Mountain Scientific and Natural Area. There is supposed to be a good display of spring wildflowers there, but I guess we were just a little bit too early. We did see some wild strawberry in bloom,
Wild Srawberry Blossom

some violets
Yellow Violet

and dandelions.
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Other than a fruit tree of some sort (apple?) not much else was in bloom. It did look like the trillium and wild ginger were on their way to blooming though, so perhaps we will head back there in the near future.

There are no maintained trails in the SNA, but a user path heads from the parking lot to a powerline cut. We walked the powerline cut to the summit of Moose Mountain and then returned back to the car the way we had come.
Noelle & the Powerline Cut

I find it a bit ironic that the natural area is basically cut into two by the powerline cut, but it did open up the vies a bit and allow for easy access to an area that would otherwise be difficult to traverse. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walking Parker to Poop Park

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On my runs along Skyline Parkway near the Copper Top Church I've often noticed that it sounds like cascading water on the downhill side of the parkway. I'd had always wondered if there was a way to get to the possible falls location without trespassing on anyone's property. Finally, I figured out a way to get to them. On my walk to work I pass a dead end street that I figured must lead to near the base of the falls. Today after work I decided to walk Parker down that street to see if we could get a view of the falls.
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What we found was an unofficial park that some neighbors have named Poop Park. I'm not sure I want to know why it's called Poop Park, but it is a pleasant little spot above a small creek with a bench and a sign. Below and just upstream are a small waterfall and a few cascades.
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In addition, I found a trail that leads back up to Skyline Parkway. A nice little diversion on a weeknight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Photo of the Day: Skunk in the Backyard!

Noelle took this shot of a striped skunk wandering through the backyard. Luckily she looked outside before she let Parker out!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Walk at Congdon Park & Visit to Granitoid Park

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It was a beautiful, though cool morning and Noelle, Mom, Parker and I had to take advantage of it. It was windy so we ruled out a visit to Park Point. Instead we decided to head over to Congdon Park, even though all of us had been there before. We parked on Fourth Street and started walking downstream towards the small canyon section of trail where we crossed Tischer Creek on three bridges.
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We followed the old road upstream for a bit, then crossed over Fourth Street and headed further upstream on the trail.
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When we had reached the upper reaches of Congdon Park we crossed the creek on a bridge and followed a section of trail that none of us had been on before on the opposite side of the creek.

When we returned to the car I decided to drive up 25th Avenue East to see if I could find the fabled "Oldest Concrete Pavement in Minnesota." My mission was successful! We drove on the oldest concrete pavement in Minnesota and read all about it on a historical marker placed in the aptly named Granitoid Park.
Granitoid Park

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jay Cooke State Park: The Oldenberg Cascades

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Today Noelle, Parker, Mom and I headed out to Jay Cooke to do a little bit of hiking on this chilly spring day. I really wanted to hike the trail that heads down to the river from the Oldenberg Point overlook because we'd never checked it out before. And so we headed out on a muddy trail descending some steep stairs to the river.
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Once at the river level we found a nice rock outcropping from which we relaxed and looked at the foaming, churning cascades.
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After a while of checking out the scene at the river we went back up the steep stairs and hiked a wet, muddy loop trail. There were lots of flowers just about to bloom , but other than a few violets and bellworts, nothing was quite in bloom yet.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waterfalling Duluth

Another nice day meant that I just had to get outside and explore a bit. I was able to convince Noelle to come along with me even though she was a bit wary of my planned adventure for the day, an exploration of a few waterfalls in the Duluth area that we'd never been to before. We grabbed our Waterfalls of the North Shore book, a camera and headed out with our first destination being the Sucker River.

We parked the car at a pull off on Old Scenic Highway 61 and headed down to the mouth of the Sucker River.
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There were quite a few fishermen there, and at least one of them had caught a fairly large fish, probably a Steelhead Trout. The waterfall on the lake side of the highway wasn't much to write about but the one on the other side of the bridge was nice enough.
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After exploring for a few minutes we returned to the car and headed southwest to the French River.

At the mouth of the French River is a DNR fish hatchery. We parked in the lot there and headed down to the river. Near the mouth of the river we were treated to the sight of many fish heading upstream to spawn. It was quite interesting to watch. The amount of energy they seemed to invest into swimming against the strong current was amazing. Eventually we headed upstream to a few small waterfalls.
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Noelle seemed more interested in watching the fish, and so I headed even further upstream by myself past a concrete dam to a few more small falls. I turned around at a railroad bridge.
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When I returned to Noelle we watched the fish swim upstream a bit more before getting back into the car for the drive back to Duluth. 
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Once we returned to Duluth we headed to Lester Park and a few more waterfalls on the Lester River. We parked about 1.2 miles up Lester River Road from Superior Street. There's an old road there that we hiked along to view a few small waterfalls on the Lester River.
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The highlights were an unnamed waterfall just near the pull off where we parked and the waterfall the author's of our guidebook called Nude Swimming Hole Falls.