High Falls of the Pigeon River

The last stop of this Autumn trip to the MN North Shore was Grand Portage State Park. The Summer of 2014 was the first time I laid eyes on this natural beauty. I remember the thunderous noise as we walked down the path to view the tallest waterfall in Minnesota (120 foot drop).  One side of the waterfall is located in Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota, the other side is located in Pigeon River Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.  The hike is not bad on this one and I would highly recommend a stop any time of the year. An insert from a previous post, Continuous Creation on the High Falls of Pigeon River,  “This morning’s mist was heavy which made every color of the landscape pop; a photographers dream.   Low and behold, the High Falls of the Pigeon River in all its glory.”  The colors are so vibrant, that I still have to remind myself this image is not taken in a Tropical Rain Forest.  🙂

Bringing us back to this trip and the colors of Autumn in Minnesota. The trip this day included some investigating as we took the road less traveled while looking for another waterfall on the Pigeon River. The majority of times these types of excursions do not end up in the way we were hoping; however, we always have a blast attempting to find what we set out to originally locate. As we turned to follow the low maintenance hiking path, we spotted a sign, “Caution”, it read. Caution? Bravery triumphed and we continued down the narrowing path.  A mile or so down the path, we stumbled across what appeared to be the imprint of a very large mammal. Could this be a dinosaur left over from the Ice Age hiding in this remote part of the country?

Well, not a dinosaur in sight, all we really saw down this path was a whole lot of beauty as the seasons changed from Summer to Autumn.  Enjoy the images from this trip!

 

Autumn on the North Shore – Part Deux

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
~ Danny Kaye

Dan and I spent the next few days in and around Grand Marais, MN. I still remember traveling this area and running into the beauty that Autumn can provide, not to mention the wildlife (still no Moose sightings though) 🙂 The best part, I think, is that the weather cooperated and we were able to capture the sunrise twice during our stay using the Grand Marais Lighthouse as our backdrop. When photographing a sunrise or sunset, I find that a certain peace surrounds me as I watch the colors dance with the sky; each one never the same. Just a little reminder that when we take the time to stop and appreciate your surroundings and the people you are with, we can throw so much color onto that great big canvas we call life.

~Enjoy~

Autumn on the North Shore

Dan and I cannot get enough of Minnesota’s North Shore area.

MN State Parks north of the Two Harbors

MN State Parks north of the Two Harbors

The landscape is riddled with an abundance of beautiful scenery and waterfalls. Every time we take this trip, we stumble across something new. We enjoy the outdoors and what excitement the hiking trails of this area can bring especially during Autumn. This season marks the transition from Summer to Winter and in Minnesota, the green leaves give way to an array of colors providing a showy performance of red, orange, and yellows. In this post, we made a brief stop at Temperance River Falls, then were off to explore what we could find in the area.  As we made our way closer to Grand Marais, we ran across Honeymoon Bluff Trail which has an amazing lookout over Hungry Jack Lake (perfect for sunset images). Please enjoy the view in and around the area.

Southwestern MN

Charles Bennett and Daniel Sweet founded Pipestone, MN in 1876.  By 1890, Pipestone had train service on four different rail lines and had become a travel and business center hub for southwestern Minnesota.  A lot of the buildings within the city are constructed with local Sioux quartzite. The county courthouse, built in 1899, is made from this stone and is considered the most stylized of the quartzite buildings located in the city. It is rectangular in shape with a 110-ft clock tower topped with a dome and a statue of Lady Justice.

Pipestone county courthouseHistoric American Buildings Survey, HABS MINN,59-PISTO,1-E-1

Another building constructed with the Sioux quartzite stone is Moore Block which was built in 1896.  This 25 foot by 85 foot building was built by Leon H. Moore, a local businessman who owned and operated a Sioux quartzite quarry. One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
Pipestone MN-5931Within the grounds of the Hiawatha Pageant, the”Song of the Hiawatha” was performed for the last time in 2008 due to the lack of volunteers, funding, and attendance. For 60 years, busloads of tourists were brought to this small town in Southwest MN.

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5737

After exploring Pipestone, we decided to make our way to Blue mounds State Park. It was a gorgeous, although hot day when we decided to venture out on the hiking trails.  Usually, before visiting a park, we do our research and know the terrain so we are prepared for what comes our way.  This day, we were not prepared and unknown to us, we were about to embark on a 13 mile hike.  Not a problem, but when you are not dressed or prepared for the occasion, it can become difficult.  I remember falling many times due to the slippery shoes I had on my feet, at one point in time- right in a small stream.  Saving my camera came first so my body took the brunt of the fall.  I appreciate Dan not laughing at the time as I’m not sure I could have contained my laughter.  We eventually came up to the visitor’s center where I washed up and we both grabbed some water to quench our thirst. I would like to revisit that state park and come prepared.  Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer such as one of the last remnants of preserved native prairie, the Sioux quartzite cliffs, wildflowers and cactus, Buffalo, and bird watching.

Blue Mound Pano-5997

Traveling in the Southwestern portion of the state gave way to many interesting finds, as our travels always do.  According to Wikipedia, “this region is a transition zone between the prairies and the Great Plains”.  From hiking trails found in Blue Mounds State Park and appreciating the landscape, to exploring southwestern cities such as Luverne, Marshall, and Pipestone to absorb the history and architecture, we stumbled upon many surprises along the way that of course we had to capture.

Grand Portage

Our plans for the day started with photographing the sunrise at Hollow Rock on the property of Hollow Rock Resort owned by Grand Portage Casino. After asking permission to photograph this rock formation, we were on our way. We arrived in the dark hoping to capture the beautiful of this magical place during the Golden Hour. The “Golden Hour” in photography refers to the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset or the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. The morning was absolutely stunning; we listened as the water crashed against the shore singing a tranquil song and enjoyed the peaceful moment as the first rays of sunlight hit the horizon painting bright colors in the sky.

We enjoyed this area immensely and returned later in the year to stay in one of the 8 cabins on the property at Hollow Rock Resort- keep a watch out for that post.

The next stop: Grand Portage. We spent the day discovering the history of the aboriginal culture while visiting the fur trade at Grand Portage National Monument, and the Grand Portage National Monument’s Heritage Center. Volunteers and park staff at the monument dress in period attire. They staff the Kitchen, Canoe Warehouse and Great Hall in and around the Stockade, and explain and interpret what life was like at the trading fort at the turn of the 18th century.

The day ended with a trip into Canada as we wanted to hike the trails in Pigeon River Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. With passports in hand, we crossed the border and hiked the trails to the Middle Falls of the Pigeon River. Beautiful country and a place I would like to visit again to hike the longer trail to the High Falls of the Pigeon River.

Enjoy the views seen as we explore the northerly tip of Minnesota at Grand Portage.

Continuous Creation on the High Falls of Pigeon River

This particular morning Dan and I headed on our way to the very top of Minnesota with plans to stay in Grand Portage for a few days.  We were to hit the last state park on our northerly trip, Grand Portage State Park.  I was certainly excited to see the park as it holds the tallest waterfall in Minnesota (120 foot drop).  One side of the waterfall is located in Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota, the other side is located in Pigeon River Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.  This morning’s mist was heavy which made every color of the landscape pop; a photographers dream.  We arrived at the park mid-morning and made our way down the very easy hiking trail that lead to the High Falls on the Pigeon River.  As we started on our hike, we could hear the low rumble of the water as it passed over the crest of the waterfall and we felt the vibration of the water as it hit the base.  What an incredible feeling!

We took our time this morning stopping to take in every scent, every scene.  Adding to the ambience of this outing, were the lichens that were covering the trees, the animals scurrying around gathering their morning meal, and the mist as it danced through the trees.  As we got closer to the high falls, the sound and vibration increase its’ intensity, which only increased our excitement.   I walked up the few stairs to the first observation deck and my eyes laid upon an amazing sight… It literally took my breath away.  Low and behold, the High Falls of the Pigeon River in all its glory.

To read more about the history and geology of this area, please visit the DNR website for Grand Portage State Park. This is a highly recommended stop if ever along the North Shore of Minnesota!

 

Judge C.R. Magney State Park

In 1963, the park was renamed Judge C. R. Magney State Park in honor of this late advocate who helped establish 11 state parks and wayside rests along the North Shore. Over the years, many parcels of land have been added to the state park, which now totals over 4600 acres.

Dan and I were excited to see what this park had in store for our viewing pleasure. We were not disappointed, however, I would have to say this 2 mile round trip trail, which includes over 200 ascending and descending stairs, is for advanced hikers but will lead you to the most famous formation on the Brule River… The Devil’s Kettle.

Half of the Brule River plunges 50 feet into a pool as it continues on its way to Lake Superior; the other 50 percent disappears into what we call the Devil’s Kettle. The famous cauldron is rumored not to have a bottom. Researchers have dropped brightly colored dyes and other objects into the Devil’s Kettle without result of finding the water’s outlet. This formation is another example of the amazing wonders Mother Nature can create.

Information taken from the MN DNR website about the geology of this area may explain a wee bit, but the mystery of Devil’s Kettle will remain hidden for the time being.

The bedrock exposed along Lake Superior’s North Shore has a geologic history that goes back some 1.1 billion years. During the dramatic volcanic activity of that time, molten lava poured through great fissures that developed in the Earth’s crust. One particular flow complex, the Devil’s Kettle rhyolite flow, visible along the Brule River, is thought to be as much as 770 feet thick. As these flows accumulated, the land along the rift zone sank to form a great basin, into which huge volumes of sediment were deposited after volcanic activity ended. A long period of erosion followed. The local Sawtooth Mountains of the Grand Marais area are the remnants of these great, tilted lava flows. Much more recently, glaciers took their toll on the area as massive ice sheets gouged out the Lake Superior basin, mainly from the post-volcanic sediments, and scoured the bedrock surface. In Cook County, where the park is located, the glacial action eroded more earth and bedrock than it deposited.

We enjoyed this day immensely and may have even shed a few pounds that day. Please enjoy the views from in and around Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

The Area Between a Pine Tree and a Drop of Water

The area between Tettegouche State Park and the city of Grand Marais, MN holds much beauty and power is felt through the water that the rivers bring to deposit into Lake Superior.  This post includes two of my favorite Minnesota State Parks in this area: Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park. But first, let us stop in Taconite Harbor:

Taconite Harbor

In 1986, the twenty-one families remaining in the harbor were told they would have to relocate by Erie Mining Company (Now LTV Steel Mining Company). The last family left Taconite Harbor in June of 1988. Shortly after the last family left, the mining company filed for bankruptcy.

As we pulled into the boat launch and bay area of what used to be a flourishing community, all we were greeted with was the large ship dock used to load the ships with the product this area was well known for, Taconite Pellets.

Taconite Pellets: The Taconite rock is mined and the iron within is separated out and formed into pellets that are shipped to steel mills to be made into steel.

Taconite Harbor98809-2

Temperance River State Park

The Temperance River is narrow but flows fast with an abundance of force. One look upon the river will explain how the water has carved its way through rock and to see the numerous potholes created by its force along the banks; truly, a force not to be reckoned with. I can still hear the sounds of the river water as it makes its way into the lake. This river has so much power that there is no bar at its mouth- no build up of sand, rocks, or debris before it spills into the lake. The Park is awe-inspiring, we will make a point to stop at this park every chance we get.

Information below taken from the MN DNR website:

The steep-gradient river has cut through the fractured, ancient lava flows of the river bed. Swirling water carried gravel and rocks which wore away the basalt and created large potholes. Over thousands of years, these potholes were dug deeper and wider, eventually connecting and creating the deep, narrow gorge. Nearby, more potholes were left high and dry as the river found its new, lower channel. Carlton Peak, the high knob in the northeastern part of the park, is made of a hard, massive rock called anorthosite. It consists of several huge blocks of this rock, which were carried up from many miles below the surface by the molten basalt lava.

Cascade River State Park

Cascade: “ A mass of something that that falls or hangs in copious or luxuriant quantities.” The Cascade River does just that; water cascades down a steep rocky slope, falling 900 feet in the last 3 miles of its journey to Lake Superior. This park has well groomed trails that will surprise you with every turn. Views produced here by Mother Nature are breathtaking. It is also said that this park has excellent Cross Country Ski Trails; a reason to return in every Minnesota season! We will make a point to stop at this state park to investigate with every return trip to the MN North Shore.

The Meeting Place: In and around Tettegouche State Park

According to the MN DNR website:

The Landscape

Established in 1979 to preserve an outstanding example of the North Shore Highlands Biocultural Region, the 9,346 acres of Tettegouche State Park contain a unique combination of natural features: rugged, semi-mountainous terrain, one mile of Lake Superior shoreline, six inland lakes, cascading rivers and waterfalls, and an undisturbed northern hardwood forest.

There are a number of hiking trails in the park and located at mile marker 57 off of Highway 61 is Palisade head. We have not spent much time in either area and I would love to be able to spend a few days photographing the surroundings.

dsc_4704On this particular day we were traveling north to our destination, Grand Portage. We stopped at Palisade head to see the views from the 350-foot cliffs that overlook Lake Superior. I was wearing my favorite “hiking shoes” as they are super comfortable and help to stabilize the ankle area. Okay, these hiking shoes are really riding shoes and since the traction on the bottom of the shoes have worn down; they can be somewhat slippery when the ground is wet. We arrived at Palisade head and started hiking around the area to take is some views. The morning was extremely foggy making all surfaces wet and slippery. As we moved closer to the edge of the cliffs, I slipped and fell. I was nowhere near the edge, but close enough to evidently scare the hell out of Dan. He turned to me and marched right back to the car, and I followed. He then handed me shoes with good traction and informed me that we were not leaving until I changed. 🙂 I changed, and we moved on into Tettegouche State Park.

After a while, the fog lifted to reveal the glorious sun and it turned out to be a beautiful day! We walked the park trails and crossed the metal suspension bridge. We were able to see the falls from the top, but unfortunately we did not make it around to the other side where the 60 foot falls can be seen in its entirety. This waterfall is deemed the tallest waterfall completely located in MN… We will be back one day.

Please enjoy some of the images I took from this day. Dan also captured some wonderful images from that day and I have also included them as well.

Images from my husband and partner in crime- Dan Traun.  For more, please visit his site at: Dan Traun Photography

Goosberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: A Beacon of Light.

Goosberry Falls State Park is known for its amazing waterfalls and spectacular hiking trails. I would highly recommend getting out and exploring this area. The Gooseberry River falls over 1100 feet in 23 miles until it enters Lake Superior. Your choice of hiking trails leading to the Upper, Middle, and Lower falls all have their own surprises and beauty.

To know the history behind this beautiful landscape will explain it all. According to the MN state parks website:

Geology of the area between Goosberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Geologists have determined that about 1.1 billion years ago, the Earth’s crust began to split apart along a great rift zone now covered by Lake Superior. Huge volumes of lava flowed out onto the surface and cooled to form volcanic bedrock, mainly the dark type known as basalt. Several lava flows can be seen at the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls and south of the Gooseberry River along the Lake Superior shore. The rifting also caused the flows to tilt gently toward the lake. These basalt lava flows, all along the North Shore, are also the birthplaces of Lake Superior agates.

About two million years ago, the Great Ice Age began as periodic glaciers (up to a mile thick) advanced into the region from the north. As they ground across the area, they changed the landscape dramatically, especially by excavating the whole basin now occupied by Lake Superior. About 10,000 years ago the last glacier melted back, allowing the basin to fill with water and starting the erosional process that creates the river gorges and waterfalls. Today, water, wind, and weather continue to shape the North Shore.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

In 1905, a November gale that Lake Superior is famous for claimed the ships Edenborn and the Madiera, among others, within miles of the Split Rock River. The lighthouse and fog signal building were completed in 1909 and remained as a steady beacon of light for ships until 1969. Even after the light was dimmed, the horrifying November gales took the Edmund Fitzgerald and her 29-crew members. The loss of the ship and its crew members are remembered every year on November 10, with a public program and the lighting of the beacon at dusk in remembrance.

Building Split Rock Lighthouse and the buildings on the property presented many obstacles. Hiking the path leading southwest down to Lake Superior will show you a glimpse into this amazing feat. The lake isolated the station, as there was no land access, all supplies and visitors needed to come by boat until 1934 when a road was built from the lighthouse to the Lake Superior International Highway.

Split Rock Lighthouse tram image
In 1915-1916 a much needed elevated tramway was built for delivery of supplies

We enjoyed our time spent hiking and photographing the Split Rock Lighthouse and the grounds of the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. To walk through the grounds and the restored 1920 lighthouse learning about the history of this property is intriguing to say the least. Listen to the life saving calls of the fog signal as heard today and of the 1920; to hear up close and personal was bone chilling.

Fog Signal as heard today:

Fog Signal as heard in the 1920’s

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse will forever be, in my mind, a highly recommended stop if ever in the area.