Birds, flowers & critters

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


Wandering warblers by the waves
July 15, 2013 by Best North Shore

Wandering warblers by the waves

Northeastern Minnesota, with its deep forests and its clean lakes and rivers, is warbler paradise. These little flits of life fill our habitats with their songs and color. It's an honor to help them along their way … read more


Fireweed: The End is Near
July 29, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Fireweed: The End is Near

Fireweed is blooming along the North Shore. I love the bright colors and proud stance of this native flower, but I know that its appearance means we're at the peak of summer. Fireweed says, "Get going, this summer ain't gonna last."Here are a few fun facts about Fireweed: Although it's best known for pioneering new territory after a fire, it is also very common along newly-built roads. The pictures in this blog post are from the new scenic pull-out off Highway 61 by Split Rock. In my experience, fireweed shows up in abundance on new roadsides in the second and third … read more


It’s berry time!
July 24, 2012 by Andrew Slade

It’s berry time!

Big blueberries at a pick-your-own farm near Duluth What a strange year it’s been for nature's timing. Everything was happening a month early this spring. Wildflowers are still blooming 3-4 weeks ahead of time. When it comes to summer berries, we’re still ahead of schedule, but only by a week or two. Now it's blueberry season. Glowing reports are coming in from the Gunflint Trail and from Tettegouche State Park. There are a few standbys that have been well-publicized for their berry picking. The top of Palisade Head can have amazing fields of berries. Anyplace named “Blueberry Hill” is  probably a … read more


Why I live in Minnesota, not in Germany
March 19, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Why I live in Minnesota, not in Germany

  Seventeen long years ago, Sally and I lived in Heidelberg, Germany for about seven months.  Germans love to hike, and we had a network trails heading up into the hills above the town. One weekend, we sought a little more adventure, so we headed out of town for the Wolfsschlucht. Germany has so many people and a culture passed down for centuries. Part of that culture includes naming nearly every natural feature that can be distinguished from the surroundings. For example, most hiking trail maps will mark where you can find important trees, and nearly every cliff has a name passed … read more


"Not even eaten at all."
December 23, 2011 by Andrew Slade

"Not even eaten at all."

This bit of news from the Duluth News Tribune on February 10, 1898 sure was a relief to read. We're headed up to Ely over the holidays and would have hated to come across Mr. Cameron's remains. … read more


Big lake, bigger bird: Park Point Pelican
September 17, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Big lake, bigger bird: Park Point Pelican

I was pretty excited last night when I heard my son say, "There's a HUGE bird on the beach." First, that's about five more words than I typically get out of him. And second because he was noticing something natural and not something digital. And to my amazement, he kept talking. "It's a swan or something."Of course I had to see for myself, so I headed out for the door with my camera. I didn't even have to leave the kitchen before I saw it for myself, this mass of white floating as if it were styrofoam over the lake. … read more


On the road with Sam Cook
August 2, 2011 by Andrew Slade

On the road with Sam Cook

Chris Evavold being photographed by Sam Cook at Divide Lake Every two or three years, the phone rings and a familiar voice with just a hint of Kansas in it says, "Hi, Andrew, Sam Cook." Just like the sound of a bell got Pavlov's dogs to salivate, that voice makes me start to stuff my day pack. We're going on an adventure.Sam wanted to do an article about North Shore hiking and our new book, Hiking the North Shore: 50 fabulous day hikes in Minnesota's spectacular Lake Superior region. "Where would you like to go, Andrew?," Sam asked. What a great … 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


A little bit about lupines
June 27, 2011 by Andrew Slade

A little bit about lupines

It's lupine season on the North Shore. The fields of blue flowers along Highway 61 rival the golds and yellows of fall for the best colors along the scenic drive. Many people I ask tell me that the lupines are their favorite North Shore flowers...even though the flowers aren't native. I guess that makes the lupine like a lot of us: outsiders who have tried to fit in and make the North Shore a little better for everyone. As you enjoy these towers of flowers, here's a few fun facts to add to your enjoyment: "Lupine", as any decent fan of Harry … read more