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The fog flowers of the North Shore
May 30, 2011 by Andrew Slade

The fog flowers of the North Shore

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400"] Tall Lungwort, Piedmont Ski Trail, Duluth[/caption] It's been a cold and foggy spring by the shores of Lake Superior. That's been tough on vegetable gardens and bike stores. But it's been great for at least one perfect North Shore wildflower. A flower that NEEDS the cold. It NEEDS the fog. If you NEED some inspiration to get out and explore the foggy North Shore, look no farther than the tall lungwort, a.k.a. northern bluebells.  Tall lungwort (Mertensia paniculata) is found all around the cool, moist shores of Lake Superior...and nowhere else in the eastern United States. The only … read more


Summer is on the way…from Arizona
April 28, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Summer is on the way…from Arizona

Yes, it seems like winter is here to stay. People are still skiing on North Shore ski trails. Dry, fresh snow just fell on Sawbill Lake. But I can tell you, summer is happening, only it's a thousand miles away. I just got back from a week in Arizona, in a little town north of Phoenix. We did some hiking and some hanging out by the pool. Temps were in the high 80s every day. The cacti were blooming like wild. The ocotillo plant, normally a dried-up stick of a shrub, was covered in green leaves and blooming a flush of … read more


North Shore waterfalls on the web
April 11, 2011 by Andrew Slade

North Shore waterfalls on the web

Right now, all that snow that fell onto North Shore ski trails is melting fast and flooding down to Lake Superior, turning trickles into torrents and making the great waterfalls in our North Shore state parks even greater.If you'd like to track just how much water is raging down the North Shore streams, you can check out these web links to real-time gauges on select streams.You'll see a graph looking something like this, the hydrograph for the St. Louis River over the last two weeks.  St. Louis River (good data for the raging gorge in Jay Cooke State Park) Knife … read more


Park Point ice ridges call out to climbers
March 24, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Park Point ice ridges call out to climbers

If you build it, they will come. When Lake Superior builds up 15-foot high ice ridges on Park Point, adventurous people will climb those ridges. Our neighborhood here has become a minor tourist destination for the adrenaline addicts and photographers. As a father of boys, I was pretty nervous about the young men in the photo above. I just assumed they were young men. The wind was still howling off of the lake and these supposed dudes looked like they were at the edge of wild icy oblivion.   I made it up to that crest this morning, and was relieved to … read more


Ice volcanoes on Park Point
March 22, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Ice volcanoes on Park Point

Combine big waves rolling in off Lake Superior with the big wind and a big ridge of ice at water's edge, and you get BIG splashes. Focus those splashes through a ridge in the ice, and you get ice volcanoes. Murky, sediment-ridden water rises from the deep, shoots skyward and rolls over the brim like lava.All those ingredients are lining up today, and the beach here on Park Point looks like the Rim of Fire. Little Mt. St. Helens are going off all up and down the shore from Canal Park to the end of Minnesota Point. The wind is crazy strong. … read more


Have an ice day on Park Point
March 8, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Have an ice day on Park Point

There is a whole lot of ice along the Lake Superior shore here on Park Point. Every storm that blew in this winter brought another ridge or two of ice, and now those ridges stack up side-by-side about eight deep headed out to sea. It's super fun and a bit scary to explore out on these ice mounds. Everything is built out of shards of ice that have been piled up and frozen back together. Sometimes it's just a field of shards, sometimes the shards build up to a ridge that drops precipitously down toward the lake side, where storm waves … read more


No-wax skis: The cure for the Woodland Goodies faceplant
March 1, 2011 by Andrew Slade

No-wax skis: The cure for the Woodland Goodies faceplant

It's spring! Time to break out your fish scales. No, not the device to weigh your catch of walleye. I mean the skis you have with the grippy surface underfoot.  It's March 1, the start of meteorological spring, and there is still a whole lot of snow on the North Shore. The ski season could go on for at least another month. But it's time to swap speed for sanity...and safety. The main reason people use no-wax skis is convenience. You just put them on and go. You don't have to worry about what kick wax to use. You do … read more


Chasing winter, you just might lose the race
February 22, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Chasing winter, you just might lose the race

The other day, my family ended up at a restaurant having arrived in two different cars. When it was time to head home, one son rode with me, the other with Sally. My co-pilot son, as soon as we were out of earshot, told me to get going and beat them home. Unfortunately, they had a way faster path out of the parking ramp and would be unbeatable. Wouldn't you know it, when we arrived at the one possible optional turn on the way back, they were right in front of us at the stoplight. They went one way and … read more


Wandering over the fog with Casper David Friedrich
December 16, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Wandering over the fog with Casper David Friedrich

My morning walk along Lake Superior with the dog is normally pretty lonely and quiet. This morning, the sea smoke was roiling out of the open waters, rising higher in the crisp cold air than normal and hiding a saltie out at anchor. A tugboat slipped out of the ship canal and headed out toward the saltie. The tug boat sound its horn, an unusual sound for winter. There was one other person on the beach this morning. I think it was Steve, a photographer and reporter for the Duluth paper. There we were, two writer/photographers looking through the fog for … read more


Taking one for the team
December 13, 2010 by Andrew Slade

Taking one for the team

All of you snow lovers to the south of Duluth enjoying your winter bonanza, let me just say on behalf of all of us in frigid, low-snow Duluth: "You're welcome." See, it takes two ingredients to make a good snowfall, and we provided one of them. Without our help, it would have been a rainy day in Minneapolis, not the blizzard of the decade. Snowfall takes two things: moisture and cold. The moisture comes courtesy of the Gulf of Mexico, or if you're in the South Shore lake effect zone courtesy of Lake Superior. The cold comes from the Arctic. … read more