My annual trip to the far northeast corner of Minnesota's Arrowhead is a much-needed recharge after a traditionally crazy spring/summer work schedule. All these photos are from my trip earlier this summer. This is a view of the west side of "my" campsite, looking west over the lake and my favorite reading spot.
In my last post I mentioned that my trip with my mom had several days added to it due to overly ambitious beavers. There is a single gravel road going in and out of the campground (and that's a very generous term, there are only three no-service sites on the lake) and beavers have apparently moved into the slough on the south side of the road, approximately 4 miles before you get to camp, building a new dam across the slough's main outlet.
Days of rain led to a swamped road that was impassable for my XC70 Volvo. The water was mid-thigh (yes, we made the trek out to the "Big Muddy" daily to wade it in hopes that the level was dropping). Since the campground's off-grid no one knew we were stuck until we miracuously picked up a data signal one day. No phone but data, go figure. I was able to text a friend who called my boss and my partner Dean to let them know why we weren't home before the signal disappeared. We never got it back.
In the meantime we enjoyed reading, playing cards, hiking, kayaking and watching the area wildlife. During one kayak a juvenile Bald Eagle plunged from a tree and opened its wings so close overhead I heard the deep "boof" of them snapping open. On another one we watched dozens of Cedar Waxwings lining the cove dive and swoop after hatching mayflies, snatching them just feet above the water, right over our heads.
This is looking west late in the day so the lighting isn't the greatest, but I love the feel of the image:
A lot of people don't realize how dense loon feathers are. And all throughout their bodies, not just on their underside. If you ever have a chance to hold a loon you'll be amazed at how much they feel like a plush toy. Here's a closer look so you can see the layers upon layers of feathers in the wings:
Birds included the Chestnut-sided Warblers that I mentioned in my earlier post and this nesting Mourning Warbler that fluttered about every time we hiked past its nest:
Mom was a trooper through it all and even gamely laughed when I suggested needing to eat tree bark if the water didn't drop. We started every morning by walking with our coffee to the huge rock outcropping that overlooks the lake, facing south for that much-needed morning warmth (nights were in the low 40s and we were tenting). Here's mom and my oldest dog, Panzer, enjoying the morning sun:
We saw beautiful wild flowers on our hikes and kayaks. The Blue Flag Irises were in bloom everywhere:
Four days later than expected, we finally made it through, white-knuckled with our foglamps underwater. Thankfully the Volvo survived.
Once we were out of camp, we did a whirlwind tour of the sights I'd been hoping to gradually explore with mom. Portage Brook Falls is a hidden gem on the Arrowhead Trail. I've only run into other hikers there once in the seven years I've been visiting it.
On the way back we stopped off at Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior just in time to watch a massive fog bank roll in:
For the next couple weeks I'll be back up here with the dogs enjoying the area and hopefully not being stranded by beavers (the DNR blows the beaver dams when they start undermining the roads). Poor Dean is still in his busy season but hopefully he'll be able to join me for a weekend. (hey, someone has to work!)
In the meantime I'll schedule some posts of other sights from the area so you can "vacation" with me. Looking forward to catching up with all of you when I return!