Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Beautiful Maples!

SUPER fun bike ride today!  Believe it or not, we still have quite a bit of snow up here (at the very northeast tip of Minnesota) and today we rode 14 miles on snow-covered trails.  The conditions were superb.  Sunny blue skies, temps ranging from the low 30's to the low 40's and the snow was nice and firm, great for riding!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cruising down Skyline

A glorious day for a fat bike ride on Skyline Trail in Grand Portage, MN!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring Ride in the Maple Forest

When our Wisconsin trip was over, we returned home to northeast Minnesota and found that there was still plenty of snow in the woods away from Lake Superior.  We took advantage of that fact and headed right out for a fat bike ride in the maple forest. The trail was a bit soft which made riding difficult, but it sure was nice to be outside on such a beautiful day!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blackbird Moon

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable Easter Sunday!  Here is one more photo from Crex Meadows in Wisconsin.  We had spent a wonderful day watching primarily sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans and just before sunset this huge flock of red-winged blackbirds flew in.  They landed in a tree just down the road from us.  As we drove up to the tree we were driving into the sunlight, so I drove just a little past the tree in order to look back at it and have better light.  When we looked back we saw the beautiful moon already high in the sky.  I was photographing the birds in the tree top when one of them flew from one branch to another.  I was lucky and happened to trip the shutter just as the bird was passing in the front of the moon.  It's one of my favorite images from that day.

Happy Easter from Crex Meadows!

A beautiful afternoon at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, WI.  The swans are back!  Beautiful birds in a beautiful landscape.  I love this place!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Little Muskrat

Little Muskrat enjoying a sunny afternoon at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, WI.

Singing Cranes

I think this was my favorite moment during our recent visit to Crex Meadows.  We were driving along the edge of Phantom Lake when we saw this pair standing on the road ahead of us.  We pulled over and watched them stand on the road for a few minutes and groom themselves.  Eventually they walked back down into the meadow on the opposite side of the road from the lake.  We slowly pulled ahead until we could see them again.  For some reason this pair was content to stay close by (more often than not, the cranes walk quite a ways away from the road when a vehicle stops... usually too far away to get any really nice pictures).  

We watched them for at least 10 minutes as they foraged in this area.  I was looking at them through my telephoto lens when all of a sudden both of them started calling at the same time.  I have no idea what it was that made them call, but it made for a great photo.  I really liked the way they were standing in relation to each other when this happened too.  If we're lucky, we'll return later in the season and maybe get to see their colt after it's hatched!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Crane!

My absolute favorite thing about Crex Meadows is being able to see one of my favorite birds, Sandhill Cranes.  I just love cranes!  They are so much fun to watch, especially when they get in a dancing mood as this one was.  It brings joy to my heart to see these wonderful birds hopping around in the fields as they show off for their mates.  It really made our day to see the cranes, as they are extra special to us (we have sandhill cranes etched into our wedding rings).  And, being that this was our trip to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of our wedding, seeing the cranes made the trip absolutely perfect for us!

Sunset on the Birch Meadow

This is probably my favorite location in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area.  The entire refuge is beautiful but I particularly love this meadow with this perfect line of birch trees.  Especially in the evening when the trees are reflecting the colors of the sunset in the waters below.  Every time I approach this location I get eager with anticipation to see what the view is like.  It never disappoints, that's for sure!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beaver Lodge at Crex Meadows

A big beaver lodge on a beautiful spring afternoon at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Crex Meadows Serenity

After spending the week in Bayfield we headed south to Grantsburg and Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in the hopes of finding some spring wildlife.  Indeed, we found plenty as the swans and sandhill cranes had already returned!  We also saw a lot of geese and ducks.  And, a lot of muskrats!  The muskrats are so cute.  Every time we saw one we couldn't help but stop and watch it for a few minutes.  In addition to the wildlife, Crex Meadows has some pretty darn nice scenery too.  Especially when you have a nice, calm day with beautiful clouds to reflect in the ponds!  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

House on the Hill - Winter Retreat

Okay, I know I said yesterday "one more view of the aftermath of the spring snow storm in Bayfield County", but guess what... I found another one!  I was driving along the highway and passed a river that I wanted to photograph, so I stopped at a pullout near the river.  As I was walking along the edge of the highway back towards the river I looked up at the hill in the distance and saw this house up there, surrounded by the snowy forest.  The house was a very long way off, at least a mile away.  I used my Tamron 150-600 lens at 600mm to make this photo.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Snow, Mawikwe Forest

One more beautiful view of the aftermath from the spring snow storm in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.  I found this lovely forest view along the Mawikwe Road on the Bayfield Peninsula.  As soon as I saw it, I loved this tree and the way the snow was covering it.  I couldn't pass up making a photograph of it. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Backroad Beauty

An inviting Wisconsin backroad after a heavy spring snow storm rolled through. What a pleasure it is to go for a drive through the woods when it looks like this!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Snow on the Sand River

Thanks to the early warm-up followed by an intense spring snow storm, rivers all around the northland are running freely and today were surrounded by a world of white.  The wet snow that fell is sticking to every inch of every tree and shrub, creating a beautiful combination of winter and spring landscape.  This photo was made on the Sand River in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Snow Storm, Wisconsin Northwoods

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, the western Lake Superior region got hammered with a spring snow storm over the last 24 hours.  It was a wet, heavy snow.  The kind that everybody just loves!  It may be the worst kind of snow to shovel, but I really love the way it sticks to the trees.  Everything is white!  It's so pretty.  I made this photo yesterday afternoon in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Remembering Utah and Our Honeymoon

In just a few more days Jessica and I will be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of our wedding.  We got married on March 20, 2013 and immediately afterward we headed for Utah for a couple of weeks of hiking and camping in the canyons and deserts of the southwest.  This photo was made a little over halfway through our trip.  Taken in Lower Hackberry Canyon on a beautiful sunny southwest afternoon, it was a perfect day for this hike.  

Today in the western Lake Superior region we are experiencing some sloppy spring weather.  It rained all last night and today it is snowing, with anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of the white stuff in the forecast.  It's a good day to be looking through old photos and reminiscing of sunny days hiking in the beautiful backcountry of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Looking through all these photos of the beautiful Utah canyon country is definitely giving me the bug to go back!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Forest Harvest

And now for something completely different!  Far from the usual type of photo that I take, this was made at the end of my last fat bike ride.  I had just finished loading my bike back onto the truck when I heard a rumble in the distance.  I immediately recognized it as an approaching semi truck.  I do like taking pictures of trucks, so I pulled out my camera and looked for the approaching rig.  When I saw it coming and realized it was a logging truck, I wanted to get a picture of it going past me.  For safety, I stayed where I was standing behind my truck and waited for the logger to pass by.  As the truck went by I snapped this photo of the passing rig with the sun overhead.  I made the image using my Sony RX100 III camera in aperture-priority mode with the aperture set at f/11.  Such a setting on this camera creates a large star-burst effect of the sun.  I thought the resulting photo was pretty interesting, enough to share it here on my blog.  

I realize a lot of people are against logging. I personally am not one of those people, so long as the logging is done in a carefully thought out way.  I think just about everybody (myself included) is against clear-cutting.  Thankfully, the vast majority of (if not all) of the logging done in northeast Minnesota is NOT clear-cutting. Especially in Cook County and Grand Portage, the logging cuts I've been seeing the last couple of years are actually quite nice and the loggers have left nice stands of seed trees remaining.  Not only do such logging practices create good future habitat for wildlife (especially moose, which are struggling in northern Minnesota), but they also make for some pretty darn cool places to photograph the night sky.  In fact, some of my favorite photos of the night sky would not have been possible if it weren't for these logged areas.  Below is one example of a recent northern lights image and a Milky Way image from last summer that were both taken in areas that had been thinned by logging:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Night Sky Bike

A slight glow of northern lights complements the light from the stars on March 7, 2016.  I intentionally shot this photo out of focus to make the stars appear large in the sky.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Morning Clouds, Badlands National Park

I've been doing a lot of sorting through old camera files this past week, just trying to clean up my photo archive.  I have deleted a LOT of old files, trying to keep only the "best" of the best.  Every now and then, one really catches my eye more than the others.  I don't know why exactly, but this is one of them.  I think I just really like the simplicity of this photo, how it focuses on just the top of one of the Badlands formations rather than showing the entire formation as I normally tend to do.  Plus, the clouds were pretty darn nice on this morning as well, which added another layer of intrigue to the photo.  Don't be surprised if I share a few more "old" photos in the coming week or two.  Seems like once or twice a year I get the bug to share a batch of older photos!  I definitely like looking at them... doing so brings back a lot of good memories!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Looking for Adventure

After what seemed like another very long wait (even though it has been less than a month) we had a nice little showing of the northern lights last night.  This photo was made at 12:30 A.M. in Grand Portage, MN.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Devil Track River Ice Layers

It's been a while since I've posted any ice photos, mostly because I've been so busy skiing and biking this winter but also because there just hasn't been that much good ice around.  I did find this unique and interesting view along the Devil Track River last week though.  I love it when the ice freezes in layers like this, it's so interesting!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Almost time for Sugar Season!

It's getting to be that time of year again, when the sweet sap of the Maples begins to flow!  Soon harvesters will be out in the woods tapping trees to collect the sap to make it into the syrup and sugar that we all love.  I came across this scene while out biking this week and it reminded me of how the forest looks when spending time in a sugar camp.  Beautiful.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Winter fat biking shadow!

Rumor has it that if a fat-biker sees his shadow, we'll have 6 MONTHS more winter! Ah, but of course I'm kidding.... a guy can dream, can't he?

Fat Bike Ride on Devil Track River

Yesterday morning I met up with a couple of friends and we rode our fat bikes up the Devil Track River just north of Grand Marais, MN. It was my first experience traveling up the river in winter. I have been up the river before but only in the late summer/early fall. It was definitely easier riding our bikes on the packed snowshoe trail than it is walking in the river in summer. Lots of open water this year along this river and others. We just haven't had enough cold weather this winter to have them freeze more substantially. I have been loving winter fat biking and finding that it makes for some fun pictures! Remember to use caution whenever traveling on frozen waterways. The friends I was with have been up this river many times and know it well, so I trusted their judgement on where we could safely ride.