Adjustments

For the fourth year in a row, I had made a plan to take part in the “Opt Outside” movement started by REI.  It has grown over the years to include many other businesses.  In Minnesota, all the state parks are open to the public for free on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
However, as the day drew nearer, I became concerned about the weather due to the extended forecast calling for freezing rain on Friday and I had hoped to travel up the north shore of Lake Superior to visit Cascade River State Park.  In the event travel wasn’t possible on Friday, I chose to take my trip on the day before Thanksgiving and opted to only go as far as Temperance River State Park.  I also made stops at Gooseberry Falls State Park and Tettegouche State Park.
As it turned out, not only did it not rain till much later in the day Friday, the temps were in the low forties.  Over the three days around Thanksgiving I managed to get in three very nice hikes. The day up the shore, through the woods and on the shore of Park Point and on the Superior Hiking Trail above Duluth.  Not once did I think about wanting to go shopping!  (Except for some thoughts of getting some new hiking boots.)

Here are a few memories from the last three days.  If you stare at the black & white image for awhile, it morphs in to all kinds of strange things.

 

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“The Silence”

During my brief visit home this past weekend, my wife and I took a trip up the north shore of Lake Superior to check out the ice formations at Gooseberry Falls and to do a bit of XC skiing.  As always, the frozen forms of Gooseberry Falls did not fail to impress, even though it’s obvious that the water levels were not as high as some years when the freezing process began.
After Gooseberry Falls we travel a bit further up the shore to a Superior National Forest ski trail near Tofte.  The trails were beautifully groomed and even though it was overcast, the weather perfect for skiing in the woods. The trail system is extensive, I circled the small portion we skied in yellow, but as you can see, there is so much more to explore.  After we had skied about half way through the loop, we stopped for a moment to soak in the beauty of where we were.  And, as wonderful as the view was, what was really impressive was not what we were seeing, it was what we weren’t hearing.  It was totally and completely silent.  There was no wind, no birds singing, no traffic, no planes overhead, no other people on this part of the trail…just total quiet.  I think we stood there for about ten minutes, listening to absolute silence.  I can remember only one other time I’ve experienced this kind of silence.  That was also while XC skiing, that time on Lake One outside of Ely, MN.  So much of my life is spent in urban areas and even when I escape to nature, it’s usually still too close to the effects of human generated noise.  In milder weather there are more bird sounds, the rustle of leaves or perhaps the sound of water running or lapping at the shore.  But, in the depths of winter, on a calm day, in a snow softened forest, you can find, “The Silence.”