Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to Camp

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to take my annual fall camping getaway after this summer's "extended" trip. Thankfully I have a wonderful boss who said "sure, go ahead!"

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!






18 comments:

  1. You must be really enjoying your time outdoors with nature. Nice of you to "take us along." I esp like the last photo, reflections in the water.

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    1. Thanks for visiting! You have more of a "fall" look where you are in California than we do right now in Minnesota! It was nice to see signs of fall on your blog :-)

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  2. gorgeous shots. I love Panzer. I love the outdoors...but come bedtime...I want my soft mattress. :O)

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    1. Thanks! And me, too - I bring along an air mattress w/a foot pump. Seriously. Two weeks on hard basalt? I'm too old for that! :-D

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  3. Oh how fun (except maybe the being stuck part) - and what wonderful memories you are making with your Mom!!!

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    1. Kerri, it looks like you just returned from your own fun trip. Your photos were beautiful! As always, thanks for stopping by :-)

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  4. There are some exceptional photos there, and I'm thinking of the loon (Great Northern Diver) close-up, Split Rock Lighthouse, and the sunset over the lake. Your mom is a trooper indeed and probably had the time of her life.

    I guess those divers need all that dense plumage to survive your colder times.

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  5. Your pictures are all wonderful, and the narrative is well done and quite evocative. I used to own a place in northern Ontario and the cries of the loons, especially at night, were among the most memorable of my entire life. I haven't heard a loon for many years now, and I only see them on migration through southern Ontario. One day I really must rent a cabin for a weekend just to imprint that sound back into my brain. Thanks for bringing back some happy memories. And kudos to you Mom for doing all of this - she must be one great old broad!!!

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  6. What a gorgeous place! I'm envious! Beautiful shots!

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  7. That sounds like the sort of trip you will still be talking about in years to come; "do you remember that trip when ……….."

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  8. I absolutely love that portrait of your mom and beautiful dog. Sounds like a fun adventure. :) I always tell people - you haven't seen Minnesota until you've seen the Arrowhead Region. Minnesota at it's finest!

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  9. WOW! Gorgeous photos and quite the adventure!

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  10. Quite an adventure! Such a beautiful place, and nice that your Mom could share the experience. Loved the lighthouse photo and the close up of the loon.

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  11. Beautiful post with a breathtaking place. I also take my mom out on some outings and enjoy her company so much.

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  12. What a wonderful adventure..and mom! Thanks for sharing the beauty!

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  13. Okay, so due to an impassable road because of the high water you got word to your boss you might be a "little late"? Four days later.....
    This sounds a lot like "the dog ate my homework"! What a locale to be "stuck" in!

    Terrific post! You not only had superb scenery and wonderful wildlife, you made a memory with your Mom. Very nice.

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    1. Wally, you're so funny! The best part (I didn't mention it in the post because I figured most readers wouldn't care) - There was a couple at the other site (they had a high pickup truck so they were able to get out) and it turns out that they're donors to WRC - where I work. So I told my boss I was "working" on donor relations while I was up there :-) My poor boss...

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  14. Thank you for taking us along on your adventure. Your photographs are fantastic! What a joy it must have been for you and your mom to travel together. The portrait of you mom and Panzer is outstanding! I hope you have that in a frame somewhere in your home. The Arrowhead area looks and sounds like a lovely place to visit ... so many splendid sights! Delightful post filled with wonderful photographs!

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