Gunflint Trail

Get thee to the Gunflint
May 4, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Get thee to the Gunflint

This weekend is the Gunflint Green-Up. Head on up into the canoe country from Grand Marais and help this scenic and wild area recover from the Ham Lake fire of May, 2007. The Gunflint Green-up started as a large-scale tree planting program after the wildfire, but has turned into a full-scale celebration of spring and renewal on the Gunflint Trail.Events this year include an interpretive walk, a presentation on the history of the PADW railroad and the Paulson Mine, music and dancing under the Big Top, and of course tree planting.Preregistration is requested. While tree planting is free, you'll want to … read more


Spring thaw on the Gunflint Trail
March 5, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Spring thaw on the Gunflint Trail

There is a lovely post on the Gunflint Trail blog about "subtle changes" in the woods and on the lakes this time of year. The chickadees are singing "fee-bee" and the lakes are crusty enough to walk on.The meteorologists say that it's spring. All the snow in the woods and below-zero temps at night say it's winter. You can pick how you want to experience it, but it's definitely a time of gradual transition in the woods. Each day starts cold and warms up. Each day feels like the transition from winter to spring is happening anew.This … read more


Best time for the trees
April 29, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Best time for the trees

"The best time to plant trees was twenty years ago.The second best time is now."That's wisdom from the Minnesota Tree Planting Handbook. It's especially true the next two weeks on the North Shore. Community groups and resorts are all ready for a busy tree planting season, and they really want your help. Earn a very cheap stay at a Gunflint lodge, or just help out the neighbors in Hovland.The Gunflint GreenUp has become a huge event. After the 2007 Ham Lake fire,Gunflint residents and businesses turned crisis into opportunity. It's not just a tree-planting event, it's also a half-marathon and … read more


Trail’s End Camping: Dine and Dash
June 8, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Trail’s End Camping: Dine and Dash

One of the hardest parts of the day when you're camping on the North Shore can be dinner time. I love company at meals, but I don't relish being the meal. Whether it's mosquitoes or blackflies, the bloodsuckers come out right about the time you want to be calmly preparing your campfire delicacies.So I've come to really appreciate a nice campground restaurant. You can dine at your leisure, even into the evening hours when just the hum of mosquitoes gets unbearable. Then you can dash back to your tent. Dine and dash, except in this case you pay the bill … read more


Thinking North Shore summer
April 21, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Thinking North Shore summer

The mighty Lake Superior weather clouds just dropped 6-10 inches of snow around Grand Marais. Above is today's webcam from Golden Eagle Lodge, up the Gunflint Trail. Perfect time to think about summer camping, right?You won't be the first to be thinking ahead. Now that you can reserve state park campsites a year in advance, a lot of the prime campsites are already reserved for the summer.I'll be on WTIP, Grand Marais' fine public radio station, Friday evening around 5-6, talking about North Shore camping with host Ann Possis. Then Saturday I'll be down in the Twin Cities at the … read more


Volks Ski Fest, Part III: Family dynamics on the Gunflint Trail
February 4, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Volks Ski Fest, Part III: Family dynamics on the Gunflint Trail

When my father turned sixty, the whole Slade family met at a Colorado ski town for a luxury weekend of skiing and gourmet meals (ever paid $25 for a drop of grappa?): two sons, one with a wife and me with a serious partner (Sally was the only one to enjoy the outdoor hot tub, a fact she reminds me of to this day); and two daughters, in from urban grungy Seattle. It was fast and furious, and the dynamics of the Slade family, for good and for ill, made the rest of the experience -- of mountains, snow, outdoor … read more


Getting ready for Volks Ski Fest
January 29, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Getting ready for Volks Ski Fest

I am all about the skiing. This weekend is the start of Volks Ski Fest in Cook County. Does it get any better than that?If,like me, you can hardly wait, here are some teasers. Enjoy it all from the comfort of your computer, but come out this weekend too and enjoy it in person!On Saturday, January 31, I'll be doing an interpretive ski of 3-4 km up the Onion River Road. Meet me at Lutsen Resort at 10:00, earlier if you need to rent skis. Check out the terrain in this YouTube video from Greg Fangel of the Sugarbush Trail … read more


Skiers, bookmark this site
December 20, 2008 by Andrew Slade

Skiers, bookmark this site

Skinny Ski is the go-to website for the cross-country skiers I know. It's got nearly real-time reports from actual skiers out on the trails.In Duluth, you get really fresh reports on city trails, especially Piedmont, Hartley and Lester. Also the private trails at Snowflake get frequent reports.Reporting is a little spottier up the North Shore. The folks at Sugarbush report frequently, as do their skiers. Pincushion ski trails are updated about twice a week. And the folks up the Gunflint Trail provide detailed reports at least weekly.For the North Shore state parks, sometimes the best info comes from their weekly … read more


Where the lost hikers were found
October 10, 2008 by Andrew Slade

Where the lost hikers were found

Last week, two hikers from Duluth were lost on the Kekekabic Trail. The "Kek" is a wilderness giant that connects the Ely area with the Gunflint Trail through the heart of the BWCA. It's a rough and rugged trail, hard to find anytime but especially difficult after the blowdown and fires that have rearranged the whole region.The two hikers that had been missing this weekend were found yesterday just north of Bingshik Lake. This spring I hiked in to Bingshik Lake (picture below) on the Kekekabic Trail. It was just a day hike, but I was still struck by how … read more


Exploring the Gunflint Trail
May 30, 2008 by Andrew Slade

Exploring the Gunflint Trail

I spent the last two days up the Gunflint Trail, that slice of civilization reaching deep into the Bounday Waters. Accustomed to the North Shore, I get excited about the wildness and ruggedness of the Gunflint. Just off Highway 61 on the North Shore you find wide pleasant trails and lots of housing developments; just off the Gunflint Trail, you find wolf scat and a few campgrounds. The Gunflint does not have a huge reputation for hiking; it's more of a canoeing and resort destination in the summer. The hiking trails off the Gunflint are either super long (the Kekekabic … read more