Saturday, June 3, 2017

Chippewa National Forest: The Joyce Estate

I was originally going to head down to Duluth for my weekend to hike two sections of the Superior Hiking Trail that I'd never set foot on before. However, I remembered that the air show is in town and decided against that trip thinking that it might be difficult to get a campsite with the big event going on. Since my car is desperately in need of an oil change I decided to head down to Grand Rapids where I could both get an oil change, and go for a hike at the old Joyce Estate in Chippewa National Forest.

Like promised, I headed down to the big city for my oil change, ate lunch, and then headed back north into the Chippewa National Forest. I headed into the Trout Lake Tract for the start of the hike. The trail followed a closed road that is obviously used by Forest Service vehicles to access the estate site for maintenance purposes.
trail to Joyce Estate
There was wild rose scattered here and there along the side of the trail.
rose flowers
Along with the deciduous trees, and hot and humid conditions, I felt almost as if I were hiking back in Tennessee or North Carolina; that is until I saw the first of many piles of bone and fur loaded wolf scat on the trail.

The trail passed by 3 lakes on its way to the Joyce Estate. The first to come into view was Moore Lake.
moore Lake
I took a short side trail down to the shoreline for a break before continuing on. Soon I could see Trout Lake through the trees on the right side of the trail. The trail was conveniently marked with mileage signs along the way, so it was easy to gauge my progress.
trail sign
One section of trail was fringed with lots of yellow lady slipper in bloom,
3 yellow lady slippers
2 yellow lady slippers
lady slipper closeup
and there was quite a bit of columbine as well.
single columbine (2)
There was a nice campsite with towering white pines
big white pine
on a sand beach just before reaching the estate. I made a note of the beach with blooming white flowers
small white flowers
and campsite, as it might make a nice paddle/camp trip in the future. Shortly after leaving the campsite, I found myself at the Joyce Estate that the Joyce family called Nopeming (place of rest in Ojibwe).

At this point I was quite hot, so instead of immediately exploring the buildings of Nopeming, I headed into Trout Lake to dip my feet in the water. Almost immediately, some curious pumpkinseed fish made their way over to investigate me,
fish near foot
and perhaps eat some dead skin off of my legs. I think I could have placed my hands in the water and caught the fish with my bare hands had I wanted to.
fish in water
Instead of catching them, I photographed them.
fish closeup
It was my first time trying out my camera's underwater abilities and I think it took some pretty decent pictures. After about 20 minutes in the water, I headed over to the main lodge building of Nopeming to start my exploration.
joyce Main Cabin

At the start of my exploration, 2 buildings from the old estate were visible: the main lodge building
inside main cabin
and the Joyce cabin,
Guest House
which was the summer home of Chicago businessman David Joyce and his wife. David built Nopeming from 1917 until 1935. Further exploration
stairs lead up
revealed one of the remaining "cabins on the hill" which were built for David's daughter B.C., as well as the butler, seaplane pilot and maid. Besides the one standing cabin, there was a still standing chimney
and a few sets of stairs that once led to the doorways of the buildings.
stairs to nowhere

Upon heading back down to the main lodge area, I discovered a root cellar
root cellar
(nice and cool inside) and an outdoor barbecue pit area.
outdoor kitchen area
A trip out to the end of the peninsula that juts out into Trout Lake in front of the main lodge building revealed a bathhouse.  After about an hour of exploring and a short nap in the shade, I made my way back to my car for the long drive back to International Falls.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Superior National Forest: Herriman Lake Trail

Herriman Lake Loop

I just needed to get out of the house. Even though the forecast called for rain, I decided to get out and go for a hike. My destination was the Herriman Lake Trail System in the Superior National Forest near Crane Lake. I saw three bald eagles on the drive to the trailhead and arrived ready to hike in the rain.

The trail was pretty swampy, like I had expected.
wet trail
On the first short section of trail I found a deer skull in the leaves off to the side of the path.
deer skull
I crossed the Echo River on a footbridge
bridge over Echo River
and continued on a section of trail I had hiked last June. For a while, my path ran parallel to the Echo River.
Echo River
There were lots of ferns unfurling their fronds
emergent ferns
and a few scattered piles of wolf scat, unmistakable with large chunks of bone embedded in fur.
wolf scat
I soon came to a turn off for the Herriman Lake Loop
downed trail sign
where, last time I had hiked on the Echo River Loop.

The trail ascended a ridge and then quickly descended to a beaver dam and pond.
beaver dam
On the other side of the dam the trail ascended another ridge
trail sign
and followed that ridge for a pretty long distance. Along the way were lots of blooming wildflowers.
samll flower
wet flower
The trail entered the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
and soon there were scattered views through the trees down to Herriman Lake. The map I printed off the Forest Service website showed a view point, but I never did catch a clear view of the lake.

I then descended off the ridge above Herriman Lake and down into the swampy lowlands,
sloshing along
filled with marsh marigold.
marsh marigold
On the exposed rock ledges the trail was marked with cairns.
I spied a float plane overhead
float plane overhead
and then made my way down to Knute Lake.
Knute Lake
There is a nice secluded campsite on Knute Lake and I relaxed there and ate a snack. The view was beautiful and there was plenty of leatherleaf
and blueberry
blueberry flowers
in bloom along the water's edge. Eventually, I parted ways with the serene scene at Knute Lake and made my way past a few more beaver ponds
small stream from above
to the trailhead and my car.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Superior National Forest: Echo Lake Campground Trail

After our exploration of the Vermilion Falls area, we were hungry for more. We had noticed a sign for the Echo Lake Campground on the way to the falls and decided to head over there to check it out before going home. We pulled into the campground and quickly discovered that there is a short trail there; the Echo Lake Campground Trail (not to be confused with the Echo Lake Hunter Trails).

We parked the car at a campsite and made our way up the trail.
start of trail
The first section of trail was not very exciting, just a walk in the woods,
curved trail
but as we made our way further along the trail it started to climb up a rock ridge and got much more interesting.
Sierra follows cairns
Like many of the trails in this area, the Echo Lake Campground Trail is marked with piles of rocks called cairns. However, the cairns on this trail are much larger
walking past cairn
and more frequently placed
2 cairns
than the cairns typical on area trails. I guess this trail gets lots of use compared to those others, and the large cairns are a good way to make sure nobody gets lost. We followed cairns past blooming shrubs
and noticed that the blueberry bushes have flowers!
blueberry flowers
There were also violets
and anemone in bloom.

Soon the trail made its way to an exposed rock face with views over the surrounding forest.
nice overlook
We followed the rock face
hikers and view
to the most interesting part of the trail; a large glacial erratic perched on the rock.
glacial erratic
Sierra and I had Noelle take our picture with the large rock and then we moved on. By this point Sierra had found a rock that interested her, with crystals visible on its face. Noelle convinced Sierra to leave the rock in the forest and Sierra obliged by adding it to one of the cairns.
stacking rock on cairn

Besides the wildflowers and large glacial erratic, we saw some wildlife. We saw a squirrel
squirrel in tree
and a snake. 
Our first snake sighting in quite a while. There had been no views of Echo Lake from the hiking trail, so when we arrived back at the car we decided to head over to the lake to check it out. We walked a path down to a swim beach (and surprisingly a playground) and Sierra and I dipped our piggies in the water.
Sierra with piggies in water
We saw some aquatic life in the as well, including a few dragonfly nymphs.
dragonfly larva
After about 20 minutes of playing in the water and sand, it was time to head back to the car for the drive back to International Falls. The day had been a wonderful family adventure!