Monday, May 30, 2016

Orr Bog Walk

While roadtripping around Koochiching County to explore more of our new home area, we made an unplanned detour to Highway 53 just south of Orr. Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to take a walk on the Orr Bog Walk.
start of Bog Walk
We hit the boardwalk
walking boardwalk
with bugspray in my pocket, just in case. I'm glad we brought it, as it was quite buggy with lots of mosquitoes.
the trail ahead
Because it was so buggy, we did not spend a whole lot of time exploring and did not see any carnivorous plants. We did see some marsh marigold in bloom,
marsh marigold
some wild calla,
wild calla
and Labrador tea.
Labrador Tea
We also saw a few frogs
on submerged portions of the boardwalk along the Pelican River.
walking floating boardwalk
Perhaps we will return at a different time of the year to see what's in bloom.
back into the woods

Search for the Grunwald Access

Once Noelle and I knew we would be moving to International Falls, Noelle requested information from the Chamber of Commerce. A few weeks later a packet of information arrived, including a glossy map of recreational opportunities in Koochiching County. As I perused the map, one item stood out. It was a canoe landing on the Big Fork River called the Grunwald Access.
Grunwald Access on map
Since our last name is Grunwald, I knew then that when we arrived in northern Minnesota we would have to find the Grunwald Access. Today was the day of our search.

We started the day's adventure with a stop in Ranier to have our picture taken with Big Vic the Voyageur.
Big Vic
After that we moved through town and finally started to make our way south at Pelland,. We drove US 71 down to Big Falls where we stopped to check out the Big Falls of the Big Fork River.
Big Falls
looking at Big Falls
another shot of Big Falls
Big Falls and trestle
We also had a picnic in the pleasant park there before turning our attention to the Grunwald Access. One would think that since the canoe landing is marked prominently on our map, that it would be easy to find. We turned off onto Highway 6 and drove past the area where we believed the landing should be three times without any success. We even drove down an old two track road until we reached a gate with "No Trespassing" signs. A visit to the Grunwald Access was just not in the cards for today.

Unsuccessful at our attempt to visit the Grunwald Access, we moved on to the Little American Falls. We followed a set of wooden stairs out of a picnic area and down to a viewing spot overlooking the Big Fork River.
Little American Falls
On the way back to the car, Sierra found some dandelions in seed and a few wishes.
blowing wish 2
After our quick visit to Little American Falls we moved south out of Koochiching County and into Itasca County and the small town of Effie. The first thing to greet us in Effie was this clever piece of of political folk art.
political statement art
No matter what your political persuasion, I think we all feel the way the creator of this piece felt at some times. Effie must be known for its mosquitoes, because mosquito sculptures were all around town on the cafe and near the welcome sign as well.
big mosquito
Nothing like a mosquito sculpture to make the tourists feel welcome!

We got gas and ice cream in Effie
ice cream
before moving on east, and then north. We quickly stopped to admire the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.
St Peter and Paul Russian Church
It's a Russian Orthodox church built from 1915 through 1918 by Russian immigrant homesteaders. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the church we moved east into St. Louis County and over to Orr, where we walked the short Bog Walk. We then headed north through my town of Ericsburg
and then home. It was a long day and even though we were unsuccessful in finding the Grunwald Access, it was nice to see more of the area in which we now live.   

Friday, May 27, 2016

Franz Jevne State Park

Today Noelle, Sierra and I made last minute plans to head over to our nearest state park: Franz Jevne State Park. We arrived at the park just in time for lunch, and so we started our visit with a picnic along the banks of the Rainy River.
Rainy River
As we ate , we admired the proliferation of wildflowers in bloom nearby, including nodding trillium, bellwort, lots of violets,
white violet
yellow violet
and others.
unknown flower
star flower

After lunch we headed to the campground and started a hike of the Hiking Club Trail
start of hiking club trail
near campsite 15.
hiking girls
The trail led down to the banks of the Rainy River where we found a few boundary markers.
boundry marker
Due to the middle of the river being the international boundary, the markers are placed on land on the American side of the boundary with the understanding that the actual boundary is measured a set distance from the marker. From the trail we spied an intriguing island in the river that I'm guessing is American.
island view
We saw a yellow lady's slipper in bloom,
yellow lady slipper
along with some bunchberry.
We also saw a few frogs
wood frog
frog 2
which Sierra appreciated. Soon enough we got the Hiking Club password and turned around to head back to the car. It was a pleasant visit to Minnesota's smallest state park.
Rainy River 2

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Photo of the Day: Magnolia Warbler

This poor little bird crashed into one of the large picture windows of our rental home. It stayed on the ground panting for a bit, but after a while we noticed it was gone. Hopefully, it's doing okay and fully recovered from its crash.
magnolia warbler

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Superior National Forest: Vermilion Gorge Trail

Today Noelle, Sierra and I made the drive down south to Crane Lake to hike the Vermilion Gorge. We stopped at Subway in International Falls to grab a sandwich for a picnic lunch, which we ate along the shores of Pelican Lake in Orr.
Pelican Lake
picnic at Pelican Lake
Then we headed through the wilds of Northern Minnesota through the small town of Buyck (Bike)
and over to Crane Lake.

The trailhead for this hike is very confusing. The hike starts among the houseboats of the Voyageaire houseboat rental company. At the back of the houseboat storage lot is a snowmobile trail that we followed for a bit. However, the swampy snowmobile trail is not the Vermilion Gorge Trail. There is a sign marked "hiking trail" in the lot, but it was blocked by a houseboat and so we did not see it. I'm sure the workers there knew we were headed to the Vermilion River Gorge, but they did not help orient us in the correct direction when they saw us start our hike.

Once we made it to the actual trail,
Vermillion Gorge Trailhead
the hiking was pleasant.
Noelle on Trail
There were some wildflowers in bloom, including wood anemone
wood anemone
and marsh marigold.
marsh marigold
We crossed a few small bridges
Noelle on bridge
over swampy areas and then started to make our way into the spruce and firs. We found a clump of feathers that we are guessing came from a grouse.
Soon views opened up into a bay of Crane Lake.
Crane Lake view
There were lots of fishermen on their boats in the bay.
fishing down below
We climbed a rough, rocky section of the trail and could soon look down into our destination: the Vermilion River Gorge.
on the trail above gorge

The gorge was impressive. It seemed a bit out of place in Northern Minnesota. We held onto Sierra's hand tightly and got the best views that we could
looking upstream 2 
Vermilion Gorge
before turning around
girls on trail
hiking down 2
to make our way past the mouth of the Vermilion River
mouth of Vermilion River
and back to the trailhead.