Natural wonders

Winter solstice, Lake Superior style
December 4, 2017 by Andrew Slade

Winter solstice, Lake Superior style

At 10:28am on Thursday, December 21, 2017, we'll experience the winter solstice in Minnesota, when the sun reaches its farthest southward point for the year. … read more


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


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


Good Harbor, Good view, GREAT geology
January 14, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Good Harbor, Good view, GREAT geology

In a land full of amazing geologic stories, this might be the best and most easily understood geology stop on the entire North Shore of Lake Superior. It's right at the big curve that swoops down about five miles west of Grand Marais, with the new Cutface Creek wayside down below.I'm sort of colorblind. For decades I've driven by this rock face at Good Harbor. Maybe I was distracted by the big view of the Grand Marais harbor just up the lake, but I never EVER noticed how deep and luscious RED the lower layer of rock was. It's a … read more


Hey, waxwings! Come and get me!
October 21, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Hey, waxwings! Come and get me!

In what has otherwise been a rather pale fall color season, the North Shore has one bright red color stand-out: the huge mounds of berries from the mountain-ash trees. Pictured above is one clump of berries right outside the Grand Portage National Monument headquarters. Driving from Grand Marais to Duluth through the grey rain yesterday, I couldn't help but see succulent red clumps all the way down the shore. And I'm red-green colorblind! These berries are R-E-D.Mountain-ash berries are an invitation to riot. The invitation is directed right at flocks of waxwings. 30 or 40 waxwings will descend out … read more