Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Temperance River State Park September 1st-5th, 2008
Paul and I left early Labor Day morning for our trip up the North Shore.
We love this part of the state and decided to make the trip after school started as it would be less crowded than in the summer. Our reservations were made for Temperance River State Park, which is located 80 miles north of Duluth, right on the shoreline of Lake Superior. (The Temperance River received its name because, unlike other North Shore streams, this river had no bar at its mouth. Someone was pretty clever back in the 1800's!) We arrived in the afternoon and set up our campsite, made brats for supper and had a great birch campfire.
Life is good. Well, except for the fact that Paul decided he wasn't going to shave for the whole week, so as the week progressed I often felt like I was living with:
Or just another Jack Pine Savage!!!!
Really. Quite alarming.
We got up early on Tuesday morning, noting it was the first day of school for students, and enjoyed our morning coffee under overcast skies, which is pretty typical for a north shore morning. We drove north to Cascade River State Park and asked at the office there for directions to the Butterwort Cliffs Scientific and Natural Area. The ranger told us they did not encourage people to hike down there, meaning there is no trail. Paul explained, "These SNA hikes are sort of our thing to do." So we received our directions and off we went. Well, let's just say the hike down to the Superior shoreline was no picnic. It was a hot and muggy day, but I was really glad I had long pants on, as we bushwacked (literally) our way down the hillside. It was well worth it, as this piece of shoreline is (obviously) very remote and unbelievably beautiful.
For most of the summer, this area is a gull rookery, so no one is allowed to step on the shoreline.
We searched and searched for butterwort. (Well, Paul searched and I looked out across the lake.)
It would have been a shame to get all the way down there and not find any. We found one or two plants in the area we searched, so felt satisfied the scramble down the hill was worth it.
Butterwort is a carnivorous plant and is quite rare in this part of the country.
By the time we got back up to the truck, which was parked on Highway 61, we were glad we had packed water bottles for the trip. It was a muggy day, not the weather we had expected. We drove into Grand Marais, which is one of our favorite spots.
We always make a stop at the fish shop to buy some smoked fish for a treat and then do some shopping (in our case, looking) in the shops around town. I must say, though, that as we walked around the town, I felt like we were in some sort of science fiction movie. There was not a child to be seen anywhere. I know this is what one should expect after Labor Day in vacation areas, but it just struck me as a very eerie feeling. Our world has been quite different up until this fall!! We found a natural foods store and bought some granola and pasta. As we left the store, the skies opened up and it started to pour. A northwest breeze blew the weather out, the temperatures cooled and the evening was clear and cool. We made a pasta dinner with Italian sausage we bought at the "Smokehouse" in Owatonna and had a great campfire.
We got up the next morning and did some bird watching in our campsite with our morning coffee. We spotted a Nashville warbler, which was a first sighting of that bird for both of us.
What would make this clear, beautiful day even better? Well, a trip to another SNA, that's what!!!
So, off to Sugarloaf Cove Scientific and Natural Area, located south of Temperance River close to the town of Little Marais. The hike down to this shoreline is very well marked, with an interpretive trail, even!! I think some rich Democrats must have purchased the land around the SNA to protect it and have done a nice job. Anyway, this area was, until the early 1970's, a major logging area and was completely bare when logging ceased. So, the upper shoreline is being restored back to forest and has been protected.
The shoreline is absolutely beautiful.
Incidentally, it was named Sugarloaf in the 1800's because the shoreline there resembles a piece of brown sugar that was broken off a brick of sugar. We spent quite a long time there.
I found a little homemade "chaise lounge" someone had left there and so I relaxed while Paul scoured the shoreline for agates.
A beautiful butterfly landed right by me (on the camera so I couldn't get a picture. I found one to upload instead) He stayed there at least 15 minutes, so I had a good chance to identify him. He (or she) was a Mourning Cloak. I think it was fifteen minutes, but since I no longer wear my watch, I am only guessing.
We hiked back up to the truck and drove to Tettagouche State Park and ate the sandwiches we had packed. We never ate in one restaurant on the entire trip.
That night we had steaks before we made our campfire. We listened to the RNC in the evenings on the radio. Nick kept us updated, as he was down there every day, to be on the fringes of the convention.
I never thought I would seriously say to one of my children, "Don't get arrested." I know he is an intelligent person and would not do anything to put himself in that position. However, he is quite opinionated about his politics and two of his best friends are photographers for the Minnesota Daily, the U of M's newspaper, so I knew they would all be as close to the action as they could get. Well, now he knows what tear gas and pepper spray are all about, as he was close enough to see them being "applied." His was quite a different reality than the one Paul and I were experiencing, to be sure.
Thursday morning was overcast again, as usual. The temperature dipped into the 40's during the night. The furnace works great in the camper, thank you very much! Today we decided to do a hike up above the lake, so headed to the Oberg Mountain loop on the Superior Hiking Trail.
What a beautiful hike.
In the height of the fall colors this hike must bring tears to one's eyes. There are at least seven or eight panoramic overviews along the loop.
It was a bit overcast, but still beautiful.
The fog burned off as we finished the hike. We drove to Cascade River State Park picnic ground to eat our sandwiches. The wind was incredibly cold off the lake, so we did not linger in the picnic ground.
We drove up the Gunflint Trail a few miles and hiked in the George Washington Pines Area of the Superior National Forest.
If I lived in that area, I would cross country ski this loop, because there was not a change in elevation the entire hike, which would mean I would not endanger my life and fall every two feet. The mosquitoes were happy we found this trail. The moss on the trees is an indication of the wet environment. Yikes.
We stopped in Grand Marais for groceries. Back to Temperance for a grilled chicken dinner and a campfire. We listened to the RNC for a short time that evening, but the fire was just too beautiful to mess with, so we just listened to the waves crashing on the shore.
We liked this place so much we have already made reservations for the same week in the fall of 2009. That trip, our campsite will overlook the lake!!!!
Friday we woke up to a bright, sunny and very cold morning. We packed up and headed down the North Shore. By the time we got to Duluth, we drove into some rain. We ate lunch in the camper in the parking lot of Black Bear Casino on our way across to the Big Sandy Lake region.