Sunday, January 29, 2017
Grand Portage, MN - Yesterday afternoon I went for a fat bike ride through some of the most mountainous terrain in northeast Minnesota. There are several awesome views along the route that I took but this one is the best. The circular lake you can see is called Teal Lake and beyond that is Lake Superior. Resting on the horizon on the left side of the photo is Isle Royale National Park. The peak to the right of Teal Lake is Mt. Josephine. Our home is just on the other side of Mt. Josephine, right along the shoreline of Lake Superior. What an amazingly beautiful place to call home!
Friday, January 27, 2017
For a while there the weather was NOT conducive to winter biking. It was just too warm! I know that probably sounds crazy... too warm to bike? Well, in the winter, it can be. When the temperature gets above freezing for too long you just need to stay off the trails because they turn to mush and are too soft to ride on. Thankfully, over the past few days the temperatures have been getting back down to below freezing overnight. Since the snow had gotten so compacted, the colder temperatures have now solidified it into an awesome surface for biking! We rode up to Partridge Falls in Grand Portage a couple of days ago and just had a blast. We were able to cruise quite easily across the hard snow. It was one of the best winter bike rides we've had!
When you combine warm weather with certain areas of the trail that are already soft because of springs coming up from under the ground, you end up with areas that can be difficult to cross. Jessica's foot sank down into the mud about 10 inches when trying to cross a spot where there is a spring that trickles all year long. In a normal winter, this spot might be wet but it probably wouldn't be as soft as it was the other day. It hasn't been cold enough for long enough yet for this spot to re-freeze completely.
Of course, a bike adventure is always better when there is a cool destination and Partridge Falls makes for a pretty sweet destination! Again, at the waterfall you can see the results of the warm weather we've been having. Usually in January this waterfall is a solid wall of ice, with the only running water occurring beneath the ice. This year, however, the waterfall was almost completely open. You can see evidence of how well it had been frozen by the thick chunk of ice still remaining on the left. However, our January thaw took care of the majority of that ice.
Since we were riding down into a river valley, that meant the ride out is quite a bit of climbing. Thankfully, that climbing is mostly pretty gradual. The slower pace of pedaling a fat bike uphill on snow means that you have more time to enjoy the scenery. And the scenery is beautiful along this route, as you can see by the giant pine trees we rode past. Fat bike rides are always fun, but even more so when you have the perfect snow to ride on!
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Today I'm thinking back to August 28, 2015. A night when an incredible series of thunderstorms rolled across northeast Minnesota. The storms made for an incredible lightning show over the harbor in Grand Marais. I had checked the weather and saw an alert for a "Severe Thunderstorm" warning. Grand Marais has one of the few places in the county where you can safely photograph the lightning from under a large covered picnic shelter, so I decided to drive to town to try and catch the storms.
As I was driving south along Highway 61 the storms hit and the rate of rainfall was amazing. I had to slow down to 30 miles per hour at times because the rain was hitting the road so hard it was difficult to tell where the lines on the road were. I was a little worried that I was going to miss the lightning in Grand Marais, but thankfully the storms lasted for several hours and I was able to get quite a few good shots from the safety of the picnic shelter.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Boy, I sure am going through some serious aurora withdrawals! It seems like forever since we've had any decent aurora activity that coincided with clear skies. Lately our weather has just been crappy. Sure, it's warm but for January we should have colder temperatures and snow falling, not rain. The first part of January was awesome. We had plenty of snow and some darn near perfect ski days. But lately the sky has been gray and filled with clouds for what seems a really long time. The warm temps (it's almost 40 degrees today) and rain/drizzle have really diminished the quality of our snow base. Because of the poor conditions and lack of any kind of good light I haven't been making many new photos this month. So, I've been going back and looking at older images that I haven't processed yet. Last night I came across this one from May 8, 2016. The photo was made at 3:38 in the morning and was nearing the end of a night filled with some pretty amazing northern lights. I can't wait for another night like this!
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Sunday, January 15, 2017
It sure has been a great winter for ice at High Falls of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park, MN! Which is somewhat strange because it hasn't been a horribly cold winter. Sure, we've had some cold snaps where the temp dipped below zero but overall it hasn't been bad.
This photo was taken on December 30, 2016 and shows some of the cool abstract patterns that were developing in the ice. You can see that there was still quite a bit of water falling down on the left side of the photo. If you visit the falls today you will see very little falling water compared to this. The main channel is now pretty much frozen with most of the running water existing out of sight behind the ice.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Cook County, MN - While out on a recent ski outing we did the main loop on the Deer Yard Ski Trails. It was my first time skiing this trail and I was blown away by the beauty of the trail corridor! So many beautiful trees and curves along the trail. My ski companions were getting a bit frustrated waiting for me because I was stopping so much to take pictures along the way. I couldn't help myself... it was a perfect day for skiing and around almost every corner of the trail I would see another composition that I wanted to photograph. The photo shown here is one of my favorites from the day. I just loved this giant cedar right along the edge of the trail and the way the snow was clinging to its trunk.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
I haven't posted a picture of High Falls in a little while, so here's an update as to how the falls looks right now. Throughout the second half of December the waterfall was freezing up nicely and only had one channel of running water at year's end. Yesterday when I walked up there I was surprised to see 3 channels of running water again, only this time they were running over the top of the ice that had already formed.
It's a little hard to see in this still photo, but there is a lot of running water in 3 different areas along the face of the waterfall. I don't remember ever seeing it look like this before in January. It's very interesting and hard to say how long it will last like this. Who knows, since yesterday some of these channels of running water may have frozen over already.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
We got our fat bikes out yesterday and had fun playing in the 6 inches of fresh new snow that fell! Enjoying the last day in the mid-20's before we get hit with a cold snap. It's been an awesome week of skiing and biking with the comfortable temps we've been having. Forecasted highs for the next 4 or 5 days aren't any more than 5 degrees above zero.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
A little New Year's Day ski trail beauty for you coming from the Deer Yard Ski Trails in Cook County, Minnesota! It sure was a pretty day to be out on the skis and I found this trail to be super photogenic. It has so many curves that lend themselves nicely to an inviting photo composition. What a great way to start the new year!