Monday, December 11, 2017

Bentleyville 2017

Tonight Noelle, Sierra, Grandma and I met some friends at the Bentleyville Christmas Light display in Duluth.
Magic of Bentleyville
It was probably about the 5th visit for Noelle and I and the second for Sierra. As always the lights were beautiful!
Tree 1
Sierra visited with both Mrs. Claus
Mrs Claus
and Santa.
Sierra and Santa
We posed for some family photos.
family picture
ornament 2
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.
pressure ridge
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.
wolf tracks
Soon enough I saw a snow covered sign marking the "Gold Portage Area".
Gold Portage Sign
I decided to ski upstream a bit. As I had suspected, there was open water in the middle of the channel there.
Gold Portage stream
I stayed off to the side of the stream among the cattails. There even seemed to be paths among the cattails.
trail through 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,
ski tracks
passing a few islands here
White Pine Island
and there.
single pine on island
I made a quick stop at the campsite on Reuter Creek,
Reuter Creek campsite
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
Fire tool shedfire wardens cabin
fire tower
to wait for the horse-drawn carriage ride to the logging camp.
waiting for trolley
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.
Sierra sleeping in bunkhouse
Then Noelle used the restroom,
Mommy using toilet
before we headed over to the mess hall.
table is set
From there it was on to the camp store,
then the blacksmith shop (adorned with moose antlers)
moose antlers
and the stables.

Finally we caught the carriage back to the visitor center. Sierra even got to ride up front!
Sierra drives the team 2
We checked out the exhibits in the visitor center for a bit and then found a short hiking trail outside
hiking trail
which led down to a partially frozen Mississippi River.
partially frozen Mississippi
We made our way back to the car, past a weird trail shelter
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,
Sierra and Mommy at tree farm
then picked out a really nice looking spruce.
Grunwald family tree
I cut it down and then we hauled it back to the car.
walking with tree
We used to tie-down straps to secure it to the roof
tree on car
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,
Hike to Health 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.
walking on ice

I soon passed another branch of the brook
Daly Brook 1
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
frozen beaver lodge
and then signs of wolf got thick. There were a few piles of fur-filled scat frozen to the ice.
frozen wolf scat
There were also tracks; lots of tracks.
wolf 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.
hiking on the ice

I passed some interesting refrozen holes in the ice
hole in ice
and then followed the other branch of Daley Brook
Daly Brook 2
looking downstream
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 starts her hike
Sierra wanted to wear her snowshoes and seemed exited to hit the trail.
Sierra and Noelle
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.
laying down in the snow
We took off her snowshoes and I carried them. Still, Sierra needed some extra motivation. We buried her in snow for a bit
buried in snow
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.