Saturday, October 29, 2016

Crex Meadows Cranes

Here are a few photos of the cranes that I made throughout the day on my recent visit to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.  This is such a magical place this time of year!  Of course, I tend to think that of any area where cranes hang out.  They are such amazing, beautiful birds!

Friday, October 28, 2016

A sublime morning at Crex Meadows

One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.  The main reason for this is because there are a lot of Sandhill Cranes that stop here in the fall and I love cranes!  There are lots of other birds as well, but the cranes tend to steal the show.  Since Crex is a bit of a drive from Grand Portage, I drove to Duluth the night before and crashed at my brother's place.  I woke the next morning at 4:30 to make the almost 2 hour drive from Duluth to Crex.  I arrived with plenty of time to scope out a nice spot for sunrise.  

I found this nice pond along Main Dike Road that was just the right angle for sunrise.  And, there were cranes in the pond :-)  Once I found this spot I sat and waited for the sun to rise.  About 20 minutes later the sky began to glow with beautiful colors.  As the light got brighter and warmer I could start to see the cranes moving around in the water.  They were a beautiful sight to see with the water reflecting the colors of the sunrise!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Autumn Sunset, Eagle Marsh

Last night's sunset over Eagle Marsh in Grand Portage, MN.  It sure was a beautiful one!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beautiful October Afternoon, Daniels Lake

A beautiful afternoon on one of my recent hikes in the Gunflint Trail area of northeast Minnesota.  This was taken along the Daniels Lake Trail, accessed from Clearwater Road.  I made this photo on the return leg of a long 15-mile hike.  It had been pretty cloudy for the majority of the hike with minimal sunshine, but that changed on the last few miles of the hike.  When I got back along the Daniels Lake shoreline the clouds were beautiful.  Hard to believe this photo was taken in mid October; it looks more like summer!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thimbleberry Leaf and Spruce Sprigs

Another nice close-up find on one of my recent hikes.  It seems like the thimbleberry leaves have been extra colorful this year.  When I saw this one laying on the ground surrounded by cedar sprigs I knew I had to photograph it. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fallen Maple Leaf

Now that most of the leaves have fallen from the trees I enjoy wandering through the forest and looking for beauty on a smaller scale.  Such as this fallen maple leaf that I saw floating in a puddle recently.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Water Drops on Aspen Leaf

Last night while hiking on the Grand Portage Trail I saw this aspen leaf on one of the boardwalks.  It was completely covered with droplets of water.  I was mesmerized by it and couldn't pass it by without making a photograph.  I love little finds like this!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Burning Slash Pile

Last week I was driving home via the backroads after a long full-day hike when I came across these burning slash piles in an area that had been logged earlier this year.  It was after sunset and starting to get pretty dark so the fires really stood out.  Even though I was super tired I stopped and spent a good 45 minutes photographing the fires.  I mostly shot video of the dancing flames but I also shot a few stills.  Fire is really interesting to photograph.  I had a hard time pulling myself away to continue the drive home.  Logged areas make for really good night photography locations, as the mature trees that are left as seed trees stand out against the night sky.  This area will also provide good habitat for moose in the coming years.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Colors and Lake Superior Fog

Here is another photo from sunset last night.  This photo is looking to the east over Lake Superior and the Susie Islands in Grand Portage, MN.  The fog last night was so beautiful.  It's a little unusual to see so much fog on the lake this time of year. The combination of the fog and fall colors makes for a nice photo! 

Sky on Fire

On the way home from work last night I witnessed probably the best sunset I've seen so far this year.  It was a complete surprise too.  When I left work it was totally foggy and I couldn't even see the sky.  Everything was gray.  As I drove south on Highway 61 and started to climb the Mt. Josephine grade, the fog started to thin and soon I could see the sky.  It looked like the color was just about to get really good so I pulled into the Mt. Josephine wayside to make some photos.  Jut moments after I got out of the car with my camera the sky lit up like it was on fire.  The color was unbelievable.  It made for quite a surreal view along with the autumn colors in the trees and the fog over Lake Superior.  What a great way to end the day!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Late Autumn Colors, South and North Fowl Lakes

On my second day off this week I met up with my friend and fellow photographer Bryan Hansel and we went on a fun hiking/biking adventure.  We hiked 7.5 miles of the Border Route Trail then rode our fat bikes 7.5 miles back to our vehicles via some gravel county roads.  On the hiking portion of our adventure we passed by several awesome overlooks of South and North Fowl Lakes, which are the direct source of the Pigeon River.  This photo makes it look like a really nice day (which it was at times) but it was actually pretty cold, windy and a few times throughout the day there were even snow flurries.  It was a typical mid-October day :-)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Paradise, Border Route Trail

On my first day off this week I went for a 12 mile hike on the South Lake Trail and Border Route Trail.  For years I've heard about and seen photos from the overlooks along this section of trail.  The photos showed spectacular views overlooking several lakes along the U.S./Canada border.  Ever since the first time I've seen those photos I've wanted to see those views for myself.  I always thought they involved a definite overnight backpack or several day trip via canoe.  Well, recently I started looking into it a bit more since I've been doing a lot of hiking.  I found out that it was probably a round-trip hike in the distance of 12 to 14 miles.  With all the hiking I've done in the last couple of months I figured that was possible as a long day hike. 

So, on Tuesday I got an early start and after 3 hours of hiking (I could have done it in a little less than that but you know me... I was stopping and taking quite a few photos along the way) I was standing at this overlook.  The view is to the west and overlooks West Rose Lake, Rat Lake and South Lake.  It was an unbelievably calm day.  I couldn't believe that there wasn't even the faintest hint of a breeze on this high spot overlooking these beautiful lakes.  At one point I even saw a couple of swans swimming along the shoreline of Rose Lake.  I couldn't believe how nice of a day it was.  All I was missing was some sunshine and blue sky.  Even without that, the view was incredible.  Easily one of the best overlook views in Minnesota.

When I got back to my car, my GPS was showing a round-trip distance of exactly 12.0 miles with an elevation gain of just over 2,000 feet.  I was pretty tired but didn't feel beat the way I did after hiking the Caribou Rock Trail.  That trail is east of the South Lake Trail and also goes to Rose Lake, but quite a bit further east along the lake.  According to my GPS that trail was a hair over 10 miles round-trip with 2,800 feet of elevation gain.  I found the South Lake/Border Route trail hike much easier (although still difficult) than the Caribou Rock Trail, even though it was a longer distance.  Both hikes are long and rough and should not be attempted as a day hike unless you are an experienced hiker.  There is zero cell service along this route so if you do attempt it as a day hike be sure someone knows exactly where you are going in case you don't return by an agreed-upon time.  With the proper planning and preparation you can have an enjoyable, highly rewarding (and highly exhausting!) day :-)

Oh yeah, did I mention that after 7 hours spent on this 12 miles of trail I didn't see a single other hiker?  If you're looking for a hike with some solitude, this is the one!  I'm guessing you might see a few people if you hike it on a weekend in the summer, but this time of year, on a Tuesday, I had it all to myself!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Moon, Otter Lake Road

Yesterday after a fun 15 mile combination hiking/biking loop I was driving home via the Otter Lake forest road and there were beautiful rain/snow squalls occurring all around the horizon.  Many of the clouds were lit up beautifully by the setting sun. As I rounded a curve in the road this scene was laid out before me, with the rising moon just above one of the squalls.  It sure was a great ending to a fun day of adventure in the Minnesota north woods!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Color Drive

Out for a drive to take in the beautiful views of the fall colors!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Swamp River Otters

Last week I had the good fortune to come across these Otters that put on quite the show for me for about an hour.  I sat there right on the bank of the river while they swam around and lounged on the bank on the opposite side of the river.  It was the highlight of my day!

Monday, October 10, 2016

September Sky, Full of Stars

A recent image of the star-filled sky on a clear, calm night.  We've had a lot of wind lately but in between the windy days we've had a few super-still nights.  On this particular night it was eerily calm and the stars were reflecting sublimely in the water.  I love it when it's like this :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Autumn Sunset Squall, Susie Islands

A beautiful view of a sunset rain squall, rainbow and fall colors over the Susie Islands last night on my way home from work.  I feel so fortunate to be able to capture photos like this on my way to and from work!  To top things off, I could hear two bald eagles calling to each other down along the shoreline.  It was the perfect ending to the day.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Cornucopia of Color

A nice variety of fall color blankets the hillside adjacent to Leveaux Mountain in Lutsen, MN.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Spur to Leveaux Mountain

It sure has been a beautiful week in the maple forests of northern Minnesota!  This is a Superior Hiking Trail sign marking the spur to Leveaux Mountain off the main trail.  Anyone who's spent any time on the SHT will be very familiar with these signs :-) 

My Favorite Autumn Road

How can you not love this road?  It's beautiful any time of year but it's especially glorious when the fall colors are at their peak.  Rengo Road - Grand Portage, MN

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Swamp River and Fall Colors

A telephoto lens view of Swamp River and the fall colors, taken from the 270 Overlook on the Superior Hiking Trail.  I sure do love this view!

Autumn Splendor from the 270 Overlook

The other day I got up early (4:30 A.M.) to drive up the Arrowhead Trail and hike up to the 270 Overlook for sunrise.  For those that don't know, the 270 Overlook is the northern terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail and offers incredible views of the Pigeon River and Swamp River valleys.  Right now the fall colors up there are fantastic.  This is the view looking south from the overlook.  You can see Swamp River in the distance, which flows north into the Pigeon River. 

October Morning in Border Country

The Superior Hiking Trail at the 270 Overlook near the Minnesota/Ontario border.  You can see 3 sections of the Pigeon River in this photo.  Everything on this side of the river is in Minnesota, the other side of the river is Ontario, Canada. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Autumn Sunset at The Old Bus

A long-forgotten old bus makes for an interesting foreground to an autumn image with the sun visible through one of the bus windows.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Late September, Poplar River Overlook

A cloudy but still beautiful autumn afternoon on the Superior Hiking Trail overlooking the Poplar River near Lutsen, MN.  

Fall Colors, Lake Agnes

A photo from an outing on the Superior Hiking Trail in Lutsen, MN on the section of the SHT between the Caribou Trail and Lutsen Mountains.  Lake Agnes is a beautiful little lake surrounded by the colors of autumn.  Hiking this section of trail is a very nice way to spend a late September afternoon!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Baptism River Abstract

I just love when I can find cool abstract patterns like this in nature.  What we're looking at here are trails of foam on the surface of the water just downstream from Two Step Falls on the Baptism River in Tettegouche State Park, MN.  A longer exposure time of 10 seconds recorded the movement of the foam trails over the water. 

Exposed Cedar, Baptism River

I just LOVE this tree that I found recently on the Baptism River!  The exposed roots are fascinating and it's a pretty big tree; I wonder how much longer it will be able to cling to the riverbank before falling into the river.  In the background you can see Two Step Falls, a small but beautiful waterfall just a little ways downstream from High Falls. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Two Step Falls, Baptism River

Luck was on my side during my visit to Tettegouche State Park last week.  Most of the week our skies were dominated by two things: thick, gray clouds and rain.  For the two hours I was hiking at Tettegouche, however, the clouds did part for a while.  When the clouds parted some nice mid-afternoon sunlight came through and illuminated the trees on the far side of the river.  I ended up with a really nice sky and some nice light for this photo.  As soon as I left the park, the clouds moved back in and it was cloudy again for the rest of the day. 

High Falls, Baptism River

Last week I had to go to Duluth for a few things so I decided to head down in the evening and spend the night at my brother's place.  That way I could get my errands done in the morning and do some hiking in the afternoon on the way home.  I really wanted to hike to the waterfalls at Tettegouche Stat Park.  When the morning rolled around, however, the weather was not looking promising.  It was raining all morning and when I started driving back up the shore it was raining there as well.  I really didn't feel like hiking in the rain so I was beginning to think I wasn't going to get a hike in.  

Lucky for me, just before arriving at Tettegouche State Park the rain stopped and some breaks in the clouds started to appear.  I figured I'd make a run for it.  Maybe I'd get lucky and I could see the waterfalls while dodging any further rain storms.  For the next couple of hours my luck held out and I was able to hike to both High Falls and Two Step Falls without any rain falling.  I even had some nice sunlight for a few moments at each waterfall.  When I got back to my car and resumed my drive up the shore, it wasn't long before it started raining again!  What luck I had on this day to make the hike in between rain showers and to have just enough sunlight on the waterfalls to make a mid-day shot more interesting :-)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Magnetic Rock

Last week I went up near the end of the Gunflint Trail (which is actually a paved road, for those that don't know) and hiked the Magnetic Rock Trail.  Believe it or not, this was another "first" for me.  Despite having lived in Cook County my entire life, I had never been to Magnetic Rock before last week.  Seeing it is quite a trip.  There is nothing else like it in the area.  You are walking along the trail and then BOOM you look ahead and there is this giant rock just jutting up into the sky.  Rumor has it that it does indeed have a high amount of magnetism and if you bring a compass along it will act all crazy and won't know which way to point.  I've also heard that if you bring a magnet along and put it up against the rock it will stick to it.  I'll have to try that next time I hike out there :-)

The Devil's Kettle

Here's a recent photo of the Devil's Kettle waterfall in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, located roughly halfway between Grand Marais and Grand Portage, MN.  This waterfall is really unique in that it splits into two channels and one of the channels (the one on the left in this photo) plunges into a hole in the rock and nobody knows where it comes back out.  The channel on the right drops into a pool and continues to flow downstream.  It is a curious and fascinating thing to ponder, where that hole in the rock goes and where the water that drops into it ends up.