Monthly Archives: August 2012

episode 1.11 – the trail less hiked

The North Shore in the summer is notoriously awesome for hikes.  Trails of all types abound:  toughies, easy-peasies, uphillsies, downhillsies, grassies, rockies, wetties, drysies, crittervilles, root-boots, and other definitely real, totally not made up at all classes of hikes.

Okay, busted.  Full disclosure, guys:  I don’t know anything about hiking trail classification.

But I know who does….

Official Superior hiking trails are a dime a dozen up here.  I’ve tried to get out and about on all of them, but you know, it’s tough not to pick favorites.

For example, a guy never forgets his first trail.  And for me, that was the Cascade River hike.  It’s a heck of a climb, almost completely uphill, but the soothing river sounds and the waterfall glimpses definitely help with the ascent.  And what a view!

Then there’s the good ol’ Devil’s Kettle in Judge CR Magney State Park.  A bit of a drive up 61 from Lutsen, past Grand Marais, but oh-so worth it.  Conquer the “Steps of Doom” and you’ll catch a glimpse of the Kettle itself:  a phenomenal split waterfall; where one stream continues down the river to Superior, and the other disappears into a cauldron of rock that nobody can determine where it ends up!  Muy Mysterioso!

A sweet shot down the barrel of the Kettle itself–where does it all go?!


And if you’re looking for a good trail run, well, look no further than the Kadunce River hike, a well-rounded little trail that I find myself barreling down on a daily basis.  Trail Running is great because it’s constantly changing terrain keeps things fresh, plus you feel like a ninja.  Or like you’re in a video game.  Maybe a ninja video game.

Want some actual info on local hikes?  Like tips and stuff?  Click here.

While these trails will always be go-to favorites and memorable jaunts, I’ve taken to finding unusual hikes. The “Trail Less Hiked” if you will.

It started with river hiking.  Find a trail, look to the left, and you’ll usually find a corresponding river riddled with rocks and stepping stones.  Sure it takes a little balance, and you might not want to try it if the river is a ragin’, but if you’re not afraid to get a little wet, check out the Devil’s Kettle River.  You can go nearly the whole on river rocks alone.

See? If you squint, there’s a trail there. Totally.

And if you do make that trek, eventually you’ll come across a waterfall.  Last summer, I climbed a waterfall after hiking the river.  Once you do that, you’ll never go back!

Recently, I discovered SHTA’s Lakewalk.

No, it’s not an ability in Magic: The Gathering.

Right, Mikel, because that’s what everyone was thinking…

But I never even thought of it as a hike possibility before.  But I’ve really been digging the Lakewalk lately.  Just an amazing trek right along the shore of Superior.

Hopefully, you won’t mind if I bring you along with me–via photos, of course.

Gotta keep your eyes peeled for this one.

 The beaches up here are made up of perfectly-tumbled stones, giving the Lakewalk a satisfying, stress-ball-esque feel with every step.

 The view is pretty good too, I guess.

I’m big-time into finding functional things in nature (as you might remember from my coaster set).  The Lakewalk is a goldmine for furnishing your home with authentic North Shore gear, gadgets, and gimmicks of all kinds.  Driftwood is a remarkable substance that hasn’t been utilized properly, in my opinion.  Proof?  See below!

All-natural Certified-Organic North Shore Incense Holder


Totally Green for the Environment North Shore luggage tag!

Nothing but step after step of pure serenity.


Kate has discovered that exercising is way more fun on a lone beach, surrounding by nothing but gentle waves, relaxing bird calls, and maybe a pesky boyfriend with a camera.

There are plenty of large rocks that act as weights if you’re looking to add a little oomph to your Lakewalk Workout.

I also discovered agreat workout in which I see a tiny piece of driftwood, try desperately to pull it out of the ground, break a sweat, then dig down into the rocks only to discover it’s basically a giant drifttree.

I regret nothing.

Ideally, I would have spent the idea day unearthing this little gem.

It’s tough to say goodbye to the Lakewalk, but I always know where to find it.  I hope you find it too.

Nothing like getting up close and personal with a Great Lake.


episode 1.10 – the reclusive moose

To quoth Unca Lou’s great line in one of the greatest films of all time, Indian Summer:

“There’s nothing like a good moose.”

I’ve seen a ton of moose living up here:  the Mangy Moose, the Java Moose, the Blue Moose.

Clearly Google Maps will not help you see a moose.

Oh.  You mean a real moose?  No, I’ve never seen one.

Gasp!  Swoon!  Surely you jest!

Truthfully, I came up here with no preconceived notions of seeing a moose.  Or any animal, to be honest.  That is until every human being I had ever known asked me if I’d seen a moose.  In the restaurant, sure, people are curious.  But my friends?  They just assume herds of moose are crisscrossing my backyard on a daily basis.

Not exactly the case.

Plenty of other animals though.  I see several creatures on a weekly, if not daily, basis that I didn’t see living closer to the Cities.  My favorite all-time critter has to be the Red Fox.

A stunning flash of fire and obsidian, I often spot the fox on my late night drive home.  It’s usually fleeting; just a quick glimpse as it ducks into the forest or tall grass between the road and Lake Superior–but what a sight!  I consider a fox sighting good luck.

If you see a fox?  Probably just keep heading to the nearest Casino.  That’s my rule of thumb.

I also see a lot of coyote.  At least I think they’re coyote.  Most people that see coyote think it’s a wolf, but wolves are a little more rare.

A good way to tell is the size–wolves are bigger. 

Another good way?  This website

I guess if you’re really in the mood to discuss wolves while you’re visiting the area is to stop at the International Wolf Center in Ely on your way.

But if you’re looking for a glimpse of nature in the raw, there’s no shortage up here.  Bears, wolves, bobcats–we’ve got a nice array.

As for the moose?  Well, I can’t give you any tips there.  Never seen one, remember?  (Don’t rub it in.)  If you ask any of the locals, you’ll get some sighting spots or at least a story or two.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my pal and first-rate chef Justen saw one while he was fishing on Northern Light Lake.

That’s up the Gunflint.  I think most people will agree that your best bet to see a moose in this neck of the woods is to travel up the Gunflint Trail.

I think another good bet would a Moose Scouting Tour courtesy of Skydan.  A birds’ eye view ought to reveal one of the elusive beasts.

Truthfully, even though it wasn’t my intent, I want to see a moose the longer I live up here.  It just seems like a thing I have to do, you know?  I rite of passage, so to speak.

In the meantime, however, I guess I’ll stick to my usual moose sightings….

Not exactly what I had in mind. Nice shirt, though.


Later, cats!


photo credits:  fox, everything else

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