Natural wonders

On the trail of the Pagami Creek Fire
June 11, 2014 by Sally Rauschenfels

On the trail of the Pagami Creek Fire

We paddled toward the burned southern shore of Lake One in search of the famous Pagami Creek Fire. Three years after the famous fire burned here, we headed out for a day of discovery. … read more


There will be wildflowers
May 19, 2014 by Andrew Slade

There will be wildflowers

It's fast and unpredictable: that fleeting stretch of season between snowmelt and leaf-out when early spring wildflowers will pop up and seize the sun, turning the forest floor into a carpet of flowers. … read more


Spring waterfall season: 3 raging rivers to watch
April 29, 2014 by Andrew Slade

Spring waterfall season: 3 raging rivers to watch

Our winter snow is finally melting and water is plunging down the fabulous streams of the North Shore. Quiet and pretty summertime waterfalls are now muddy, raging torrents. It’s a great time to explore! … read more


Get picking: it’s blueberry season
August 12, 2013 by Andrew Slade

Get picking: it’s blueberry season

As reports came in of wild blueberries all over the Gunflint Trail and the North Shore, I stayed home waiting for news from somewhere else...the South Shore. This weekend, we went to Blue Vista Farm in Bayfield and picked about two gallons of big, beautiful blueberries. … read more


Down the river, to the beach
August 15, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Down the river, to the beach

Heavy rains pummeled the western Lake Superior area earlier this month. Up to six inches of rain fell in a band just south of Superior, Wisconsin...the headwaters of the Nemadji River. The rising river tore at the clay banks and carried everything it grabbed down to Lake Superior. It created not only a plume of red clay into the lake but a veritable parade of tree trunks, some more alive than others. While the new horizontal forest is thickest down toward the end of Minnesota Point, there was still a lot of big wood on our own beach. My crafty neighbor … read more


White, waxy and weird wildflowers of the North
July 27, 2011 by Andrew Slade

White, waxy and weird wildflowers of the North

I had a great day of hiking this week up in the Isabella area. It's a 25-minute drive from Highway 61 through Finland along Highway 1 to Isabella, and we were still in the Lake Superior watershed, but it felt like arriving in another world. The forest changes from what you'd call "North Woods" to "Boreal." The main thing that was different was the wildflowers. In fact, I turned to an old book on my bookshelf, Plants of Quetico and the Ontario Shield, by Quetico park naturalist Shane Walshe.  These flowers from the North were white, weird and waxy. Along the … 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


Skiing Duluth: From cow moose to cowbell
February 10, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Skiing Duluth: From cow moose to cowbell

One of the great things about skiing on the North Shore is all the variety of trails we have. In the course of 60 minutes this week, I was on two different ski trails, a few miles apart, but they were as different as could be. I started on the Canosia Wildlife Management Area trail (above). This is just north of Duluth, 2.5 miles north of the Martin Road on Ugstad Road. For years a local volunteer would groom the 4.5 kilometers of trail that wind through different habitats. Apparently, that volunteer isn't grooming this year, so the trail is … read more


Fall colors: get off the highway
October 1, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Fall colors: get off the highway

North Shore fall color fans know that there are typically two different peak times for the autumn spectacle. First the maple trees in the inland ridges turn ablaze. Then, two or three weeks later, the birch along Highway 61 change to gold.The tourism boosters don't want you to hear this: those two color peaks are happening at one time. And, compared to other years, Highway 61 fall colors are not all that great.After experiencing an early spring, the trees by Lake Superior must be ready to hang it up for the year. Along Highway 61, the aspens are in burnished … read more


Harebells ’round the world
August 26, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Harebells ’round the world

Go to any open rocky stretch of the North Shore right now, and you will likely find a familiar blue flower, bell-shaped, with leaves so skinny and round they almost look like grass. It's a North Shore flower all right, but it's found in dramatic landscapes all over the world. I took this photo last week in between cold-water swimming challenges with Chicago Max.What we call harebell here is known as bluebell blueflower across the US, Rundblättrige Glockenblume in the Alps, and liten blåklocka in Sweden, where it has appeared on postage stamps.One summer I saw it in bloom in … read more