Friday, September 4, 2015

Top of the Giant

Just one of the many awesome views from the Top of the Giant at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario.  This week Jessica and I had an unforgettable biking and hiking adventure at this gem of a park.  The trailhead parking lot is only about a 2 hour drive from our house, yet we had never been on this hike before.  We woke at 6 AM to have some breakfast and load the car with our bikes and gear we needed for the hike.  We had a couple of errands to run on our way but we still arrived at the trailhead lot by 9:30.  By 9:40 we were headed off down the Kabeyun Trail on our bikes.  You can bike the first portion of the route, which makes this much more practical as a day route.  Otherwise it's almost a 17 mile round trip hike.  Definitely still attainable as a day hike, but makes the trip much longer.  We were able to bike the first 5.5 miles, which brought us to a bike rack at the start of the much more rugged uphill portion of the journey.  

From the bike rack it would be 3 miles of hiking, much of it uphill.  The trail was beautiful and excellently maintained.  We never had any trouble following the trail.  We passed a very lovely grassy meadow along the way which was lined with some amazing old growth cedar trees, some of the largest cedar trees I've seen.  Just after passing the meadow we came to the steepest part of the hike.  The air was incredibly calm and warm and we were praying for a breeze to pick up from Lake Superior to help cool us down, but no such luck.  We were both dripping with sweat by the time the trail brought us out into the open and to the first views of Lake Superior.  The first overlooks gave us an incredible panoramic view of the Lake Superior shoreline with Tee Harbour and Lehtinen's Bay in the foreground.  The full length of Isle Royale National Park, all 45 miles of it, was visible on the horizon.  We could even see Passage Island, which lies a few miles off the eastern tip of Isle Royale.  

We continued on the trail, which now worked its way across the relatively flat top of the giant.  Eventually we came to the west side of the summit, which offered equally amazing views of Thunder Bay and Pie Island.  The trail ended at a large crack in the cliff face, which is where we stopped and ate our lunches.  It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever sat and enjoyed a trail-side lunch.  We were right on the edge of cliffs that dropped straight down almost 1,000 feet to Lake Superior.  This place is definitely not for those who suffer from vertigo!  Even I had a hard time inching my way to the edge and peering over to make this photo.  To my amazement, when peering over the edge, I saw a rock ledge about 10 feet down and there was a small chipmunk on it!  Moments later, the chipmunk appeared at the top of the cliff and ran off into the woods.  A few minutes later he returned and somehow scurried back down to his ledge.  He must have a den within one of the cracks in the rock.  The heights didn't seem to bother him one bit.  We sat and enjoyed the view for a while then headed back down the trail.  We still had a few sights to see on the return, which I will share with you later :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Tree of Light

While watching the lightning storms over the Grand Marais harbor the other night, there were several quiet periods in between the storm fronts.  During one of these quiet periods a fog bank rolled in over the harbor and made all kinds of unique things happen with the lights around the area.  At one point I was walking around to stretch my legs a bit and looking away from the lake over the campground area when I saw this spruce tree with a street light directly behind it.  The way the light was spreading out from behind the tree and into the fog was mesmerizing. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Harbor Lightning

Here is another favorite from last night's series of thunderstorms over the harbor in Grand Marais, MN.  This was an 11 second exposure with an aperture of f/8 and ISO 400.

August Thunderstorm, Grand Marais Harbor

Last night before going to bed we were noticing some lightning flashes outside, so I looked at the weather radar and it showed a huge line of thunderstorms heading from west to east across northern Minnesota.  I decided to head out and try to capture some photos of the lightning.  I've been wanting to capture a lightning photograph over the Grand Marais harbor for quite some time, so that's where I decided to go.  The radar showed the most intense parts of the storms were still a bit west of us, so I figured I had enough time to make the 40 minute drive before the storms passed by.  

Well, the weather hit a little earlier than I expected and it ended up taking an extra 10 minutes to get to Grand Marais.  The lightning was spectacular all the way along the drive and I was worried I was going to miss it over the harbor.  Several times I had to slow to 35 to 40 miles per hour as the rain was coming down so hard I could barely see the lines on the highway.  Thankfully, when I arrived in Grand Marais the storms were still going full blast.  I was able to capture a few good shots of the lightning strikes before the weather moved too far out over the lake.  The one you see here is my favorite shot of the night.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hiking the Finger Point Trail

What a beautiful day for a hike!  On Wednesday of this week Jessica and I ventured just across the border to explore the other side of Pigeon Bay on Lake Superior.  We hiked the Finger Point Trail, which is a little over 3 miles round-trip.  The trail follows along the shoreline of Pigeon Bay and ends on a high hilltop overlooking Lake Superior.  It is a beautiful and very rewarding hike.  While this trail is in Canada, the point that you see in the background of this photo is Pigeon Point, which is the very northeastern tip of Minnesota. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August Sunset Colors

Here is another photo from last night's sunset, taken with my telephoto lens to create more of an abstract image.  The colors and patterns in the clouds were pretty surreal.  We sure do live in a beautiful world!

Autumn in August?

Crazy autumn-like weather yesterday!  It definitely felt like fall with temperatures in the 50's, intermittent rain sprinkles and high winds all day long.  I didn't let that stop me from taking my Monday evening post-work bike ride though.  Maybe I should have stayed home, because I had a mishap which totally mangled the front derailleur on my bike.  I had to remove it from the bike in order to complete the ride.  During the last 5 miles of the ride I was descending in elevation back towards Lake Superior and looking at these beautiful clouds out over the lake.  I was hoping the entire way that they would hang on until I got home so I could get some pictures.  Luckily for me, the conditions lingered long enough for me to arrive home, grab my camera gear and run half a mile down the road to grab this shot.