Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race, 2015 #AISDR

The excitement of the dogs grew as each dog was hooked up to their sled and the vocalization was heard for some distance.  A chill rushed through my body as the sound of the dog’s cries hit us down the track.  I knew right then and there, they were close to starting the races.

Friends of ours, Dave Semerad and Julie Mooney, invited us to join them as they volunteered for the Apostle Island Sled Dog races in Bayfield, WI, and we joyfully accepted.  They were volunteering their time helping groom the trails and handling the dogs for the mushers and their teams; we were photographing the event.

I was even lucky enough to ride on the back of the sled as one team finished – I am sure I had and extremely LARGE smile on my face 🙂

Got the fever

Got the fever

The event: 

Date February 78, 2015
Race Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race
Location Bayfield, Wisconsin, USA
Purse $3,000
Organizers Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau
Distance 60 mile & 80 mile; 40 mile Sportsman’s Race; and a 6-8 mile Family Rec Run

Dave and Julie both can recall how energetic, strong, and focused these dogs were; sometimes even pulling the handlers across the parking lot to the starting shoot 🙂  They told stories of each team and how they work together, each one as incredible as the last.  The mushers really need to understand and know each dogs personality for placement on the team for placement of the lead dogs, the point dogs, the swing dogs, and the power behind it all- the wheel dogs.

According to Wikipedia:

Dog sledding has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years, even as far back as the 10th century.

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Important too is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength and speed as part of the team

Viewing the power of each team as they raced past us on the the trail was beyond words.  Looking back on the images, I relived the excitement of the team and noticed how proudly the mushers gaze was as they looked upon their dogs.  Sled dog racing shows great team work; I was completely impressed.

We will be making this a yearly visit and next year, I will be volunteering to help handle the dogs!

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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!

 

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.

Minnesota North Shore- The Catch of the Day

Typical July weather on the Northern Shores of Minnesota range between 70-85 degrees, but because of Lake Superior, the temperatures can easily drop to a cool 50-60’s. This July trip was well needed; the goal was to cover all 8 State Parks north of Two Harbors, MN.

Dan and I adore the North Shore and are blessed to live so close to this natural wonder. I have fond camping memories of the North Shore as my family went camping there often. We loaded the girls and headed on our way early, our first stop was “grandma’s house”. The girls always enjoy spending some cuddle time with her and even know when we are getting close to grandma’s home. Thanks mom for watching the furry grandkids on our trips!

Normally, you can see Lake Superior when you reach the top of the hill when coming into Duluth on MN Interstate 35. This scenery is absolutely beautiful as the view includes the enormous body of water we call Lake Superior and the grandeur of Duluth. This morning was a little different; as we reached the top of the hill, we could not see the lake or Duluth. A thick blanket of fog covered the city and the lake. We were not disappointed though as fog can add so much feeling to photography.

Our first stop was at Kendall’s Smokehouse where Dan purchased the fresh smoked fish that he was craving since we started out. After the fish was devoured,  we were off to meet up with friends in Two Harbors, MN but of course,  we had to stop and photograph along the way. We had a great time visiting and stayed at Cove Point Lodge.  I would highly recommend a stay in this lodge, the grounds are stunning and the cove offers spectacular views around every corner. We also noticed that the Spring flowers were still in bloom and stopped to smell them every chance we got- Wild Lupine, Daisy’s, Orange Hackweed, just to name a few. The fog this morning was inspiring, little did we know, this fog would stay with us for the majority of the trip adding to the beauty and enriching the colors of the North Shore in July.

What is the next stop you ask? Well, Dan and I will take you on a quick tour of Two Harbors, MN and an exploration of this area’s backroads.