Monday, December 11, 2017

Bentleyville 2017

Tonight Noelle, Sierra, Grandma and I met some friends at the Bentleyville Christmas Light display in Duluth.
It was probably about the 5th visit for Noelle and I and the second for Sierra. As always the lights were beautiful!
Sierra visited with both Mrs. Claus
and Santa.
We posed for some family photos.
And we even got to go inside the big tree!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Voyageurs National Park: Ski to Gold Portage

Today I set off under cloudy skies,
to travel across the frozen surface of Black Bay on skis
to Gold Portage. There is a stream at Gold Portage that connects Kabetogama Lake with Rainy Lake. It flows over a set of rapids, so I figured there would likely be some open water out that way. Still, I wanted to get out of the house and do some exploring.

The ice seemed pretty solid as I headed southeast. Pretty quickly I came to a fairly large pressure ridge that I had to negotiate.
After that I set a course toward Skunk Island off in the distance. I passed an area with lots of wolf tracks in the snow.
Soon enough I saw a snow covered sign marking the "Gold Portage Area".
I decided to ski upstream a bit. As I had suspected, there was open water in the middle of the channel there.
I stayed off to the side of the stream among the cattails. There even seemed to be paths among the cattails.
Eventually the strip of solid ice off to the side of the main channel began to narrow. It was time to turn around. I didn't want to risk breaking through the ice.

I made my way back to the entrance of Gold Portage. At one point my ski pole broke through the ice. Luckily the rest of my body did not. I would be skiing into the wind for the return trip. Still, it was interesting to follow my tracks back to where I had started,
passing a few islands here
and there. I made a quick stop at the campsite on Reuter Creek,
and shortly thereafter I was back to the parking lot and my car. While I wasn't able to make it back to the rapids, it was a worthwhile trip!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Forest History Center: Christmas in a Logging Camp

Today Noelle, Sierra and I made the long, winding drive down to Grand Rapids, Minnesota to check out the Christmas in a Logging Camp program. Noelle and I had been to it before, back in 2009. However, we both thought it would be fun to take Sierra. So after lunch at Culver's, we headed to the center.

We purchased our ticket and then visited with Santa
before heading over to the Fire Warden's Cabin
to wait for the horse-drawn carriage ride to the logging camp.
We arrived in camp and headed over to the bunkhouse first. There was a "logger" inside playing the banjo and Sierra got a feel for a straw mattress.
Then Noelle used the restroom,
before we headed over to the mess hall.
From there it was on to the camp store,
then the blacksmith shop (adorned with moose antlers)
and the stables.

Finally we caught the carriage back to the visitor center. Sierra even got to ride up front!
We checked out the exhibits in the visitor center for a bit and then found a short hiking trail outside
which led down to a partially frozen Mississippi River.
We made our way back to the car, past a weird trail shelter
and then drove out to Klockow Brewing Company where Noelle and I sampled beer and all 3 of us played some Uno.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Grunwald Family Christmas Tree 2017

Today Sierra, Noelle, Grandpa and myself made the short drive out of town, just across the Littlefork River, to pick up this year's family Christmas Tree. It's a farm run by the Saunders Family. You just pull into their driveway, cut down your tree and then pay for it. We wandered among the trees for a bit,
then picked out a really nice looking spruce.
I cut it down and then we hauled it back to the car.
We used to tie-down straps to secure it to the roof
while Grandpa went and paid. It was a fun day with family!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Voyageurs National Park: Hiking a Frozen Daley Brook

Today I wanted to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors, so despite cold temperatures and snow on the ground, I headed over towards the Ash River section of Voyageurs National Park. My goal was to hike to the Hike to Health rubbing post on the west section of the Kab-Ash Trail. I have hiked the entire Kab-Ash Trail previously, but I had forgotten to bring the passport book last time.

It was an uneventful drive to the trailhead. I saw 2 bald eagles on the way. I parked the car and quickly hit the trail. I had brought my microspikes, but was too lazy to put them on. I just wanted to get moving. I made fast time to the rubbing post, got my rubbing,
and decided to move on to the interesting bridge that crosses Daley Brook. Once I got to the bridge, the ice on Daley Brook looked pretty solid and so I thought it might be interesting to hike on the frozen ice surface.

I soon passed another branch of the brook
that I knew led to a section of the Kab-Ash Trail that crossed a the branch on a snowmobile bridge. I would make that my return route. For now I was headed north towards Kabetogama Lake. I passed a snow covered beaver lodge
and then signs of wolf got thick. There were a few piles of fur-filled scat frozen to the ice.
There were also tracks; lots of tracks.
This place must be a veritable wolf highway at times. I continued to a sharp bend in the brook and then the ice started to look a little bit sketchy and so I turned around and started to make my way back.

I passed some interesting refrozen holes in the ice
and then followed the other branch of Daley Brook
back to the Kab-Ash Trail for the return hike back to the car.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Manka Trails Snowshoe/Walking Trail

I had an extra day off today for Veterans' Day and so Noelle, Sierra and I took advantage by heading over to the local Manka Trail for a walk in the snow. There is a groomed and lighted ski trail loop, along with a walking trail, which is what we traveled on today.
Sierra wanted to wear her snowshoes and seemed exited to hit the trail.
However, it seems like her energy quickly wanes in the snow and soon enough she was lying in the snow and begging to be carried.
We took off her snowshoes and I carried them. Still, Sierra needed some extra motivation. We buried her in snow for a bit
and then ended up playing hide-and-seek as we went along the trail.
The promise of hot chocolate was the last bit of motivation needed to get Sierra moving to the end of the trail.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

Today Mom and Dad gave Noelle and I the use of their car and so we took full advantage and headed out on a beautiful fall day for some adventure! We were headed to Millville, New Jersey and the Nature Conservancy managed Maurice (pronounced Morris) River Bluffs Preserve.

It was a short drive to the preserve. We hit the trail immediately after our arrival. We would basically hike every trail in the preserve by making a right turn at all trail intersections. We headed into the forest and found some interesting looking fungi.
Then we headed through a meadow and picnic area to our first overlook of the Maurice River.
We admired the view through the trees and then continued on, soon arriving at the ruins of an old stone house.
We then continued on a section of trail that appeared to be an old road
to an area where there was a dock that led out onto the river. We went out on the dock and looked around.
It appeared to be pretty good eagle habitat, but we didn't see any eagles. We would hear an eagle call later on in our hike though.

The next sections of trail we hiked passed close to the bank of the river offering some great views out across the water.
Near one overlook grew a tree with what appeared to be a section of railroad trail sticking out of it.
We came to another old road that led down to the river.
We admired the view from an illegal campsite there
and noticed some old, rusty rings embedded in the rock.
Were they vestiges of logging from long ago? Nearby was a set of large concrete basins.
Later on we would find concrete supports. These discoveries made me curious about past use of these lands. After reaching a flowing water spigot,
the trail curved around and started to lead us back to the parking area.

Our adventure for the day was not done yet though. I had done some research and found what looked to be a great place for lunch. We made the drive over to Vineland and Outlaw's Burger Barn. The food at Outlaw's did not disappoint. I got the En Fuego with turkey and it was great. Noelle got the Barn Burger. We both agreed that we would go back to Outlaw's. After lunch at Outlaw's, we headed to downtown Millville to kill some time. We weren't all that impressed with Millville. There was a nice walk along the river, but some shady characters hanging around. Finally, it was time to head out to the last stop of our day out the Glasstown Brewing Company at the airport in Millville. We sampled some delicious beers at Glasstown. We both enjoyed the Big Breakfast Coffee Maple Porter. We got a few ales to go and headed back to Mom and Dad's.