An Experience In Four Parts.
Part One: Wandering Around
An Experience In Four Parts.
Part One: Wandering Around
My month long visit home has ended and I have returned to Minneapolis again. Sports photography begins at the end of next week and my sister is arriving from Florida later today. She claims she likes taking a break in cooler weather, but she may get more than she bargained for on this trip.
During the month of March I was able to accomplish many things that had been awaiting my attention, however, there is always much more for when I return home next. I managed to sneak in a few photo trips while home, some of the results were shown in previous blog posts. As I was kind of quiet during the past month, I thought I would share a few glimpses of how I spent some of my time in the Duluth area. The image with the blue bridge highlights my upcoming summer adventure. I will be a seasonal operator of the bridge, which opens to allow the tour boats, fishing charter boats and private craft to pass on their way out to Lake Superior. Part of the job is to be an ambassador for the city of Duluth. You can be sure I will always have a camera with me on this job.
Tettegouche State Park on Lake Superior’s north shore is one of my favorite places to visit in Minnesota. With the addition of the new wayside rest area, the park is open to everyone traveling along the north shore. The park offers fantastic views of the lake, miles of hiking trails, camping and the highest waterfall contained within the borders of Minnesota. But the lake is the big draw and no matter the season, its personality is always on display.
Minolta DiMAGE S404, ISO 64, 7.38mm, f/ 6.7, 1/250 sec, Nov. 20, 2005
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.”
Of course getting to four state parks in one day required a bit of driving. I did my best to pick a route that would keep me off the freeways as much as possible so as to enjoy the beauty of the freshly fallen snow clinging to the trees along the road. Sadly, by the end of the day, the sun had melted most of it off the branches and even some of the snow on the ground. All in all, it was a wonderful day filled with new places to explore, many photos captured, a fair amount of hiking and a lot of fresh air. I drove through several small river towns, all in need of return visits with my camera. And with the sun setting in the west, I called it a day and headed back to have dinner, upload the day’s work and sleep knowing I had a grand adventure in the outdoors rather than a dismal day in a shopping center.
The Dalles area of Interstate Park is incredibly fascinating and it is easy to lose track of time as you explore the amazing rock formations. By visiting the website for the park, you can learn about the geologic history that goes back over a billion years and involves earthquakes, volcanoes and glaciers. Add to that, roaring water that grinds rocks against rocks and you have the Dalles, known for its potholes. It’s kind of like a giant rock playground. The part of the park hosts some excellent rock climbing, canoe rentals and is walking distance to the small downtown of Taylors Falls, where you will find shops, food and beverages of all kinds. If you are not a camper, there are other accommodations available in town and nearby.
William O’Brien State Park is a park I have a long history with. I began visiting this park over thirty years ago. I noticed that they have built a new visitor center and on this day, the parking lot was almost full. The visitor center sits up the hill and west of the highway that splits the park. The west side is away from the river and has many wooded hiking trails. On the east side of the highway and down the winding road is the river and Alice Lake. Camping is available on both sides of the highway, as are the hiking trials. There is a protected boat launch for access to the river and small boats with electric motors are allowed on Alice Lake. I can attest from personal experience that fishing in the river is excellent.
Part one of my visit to this park is about the trees, reflections and a picnic shelter on a sunny day. Part two is about ice.