Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Dunes Snowshoe Photos

Here are the remainder of the photos from the dunes snowshoe a couple of days ago. Yesterday we cross country skied, but I didn't take any photos.

Most of the dunes are covered with snow. There are only a few spots where the wind has continuously blown the snow off such as by the Ghost Forest.

We walked through the woods over to the path that connects with the footbridge. This is the "bowl" near the entrance of the dunes. Not that long ago there was no snow here.

The trees in these north woods have different strategies to survive the snow load. Some of the pines are tall and straight with down-sloping branches. This configuration prevents the snow from accumulating.

This grand old birch just has strong branches.

I've shown a few pictures this winter that I took from the footbridge near Sable Falls. As you can see, the ice in the water is now starting to accumulate.

These pine cones were right on the trail.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sable Dunes Snowshoe From a New Angle

We decided to snowshoe again yesterday and tried to walk along the south side of Sable River from the visitor's center to Sable Lake, but it was too overgrown. We headed down the road a ways, and then up into the dunes along the west side of Sable River. We snowshoed north hugging the forest, which still required going up and down several dunes, all the way to the Ghost Forest. Finally, we snowshoed through the woods to the footbridge by Sable Falls, and back the river trail to the visitor's center.

The sun didn't exactly show full force, but occasionally it tried to peak out.

At least along this section of fairly shallow beach, the icebergs are really starting to mount up. You can see all the pancake ice floating just off shore. Eventually, these ice chunks will help to grow the icebergs even larger.

It was glorious to be in the dunes yesterday, especially since there was little to no wind.

The winter scenes are so beautiful in Grand Marais that you end up paying the most attention to the incredible vistas. However, sometimes you have to notice the intricate smaller details.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sable Lake Ski

Yesterday was the first day in almost two weeks that Wendy and I didn't get outside to exercise. Many of you who know me realize that I am not a fan of doing paperwork and bookkeeping. However, it has to be done. I sat at my computer yesterday ALL DAY and completed a lot of the task. It is unbelievable how many government forms had to be filed out, some were quarterly filings while others were annual.

Two days ago Wendy and I decided that with the new snow, it was time to cross country ski. We started down the trail by Sable Visitors' Center. While it was beautiful, the snow was very sticky.

So we doubled back and skied the road to Sable Lake. The snowmobiles packed down the snow and made it more skiable. I don't like skiing across lakes, but we figured that if we stayed away from the river mouth, where there are probably currents and thinner ice, that we would be OK. Here is a view looking back at the dunes from across the icy lake.

We skied over to the boat ramp. It sure looks different in the winter than it does in the summer.

I thought that this broken tree as well as the birch clump made good nature's art shots.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Beach Snowshoe Photos

Today's photos include the remainder from the snowshoe Wendy and I took the other day. We walked down the ravine to First Creek, and then headed west down the beach, up Sable Falls steps, and back to my car that was parked by the ranger's house where the road is plowed on Grand Marais' end of H58.

The other day I posted a photo of the tee pee that I took from the top of the bluff. Here are a few photos taken from beach level.

The icebergs are starting to form on shore. I hope they keep forming and growing as the winter progresses.

If you visit Grand Marais in the winter, especially later in the winter, it is important to NOT walk on the icebergs. Below are a couple of pictures to document why this can be dangerous. The waves sometimes open up "blow holes" in the ice. Later, these holes can be covered with a thin layer of ice and hidden by snow. Even though it is the beginning of winter, this iceberg is around ten feet tall. If you should happen to fall through one of these blow holes, you could slide down the chute right into the water.

Here are a couple of shots taken at the mouth of Sable River, as well as one showing one of the few spots in Sable Falls that is not ice covered.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ravine and Beach Snowshoe

Yesterday Wendy and I continued hiking the ravine creek bed that we started walking from west to east the other day. It was tough going with lots of downed trees. We saw a lot of large trees that were snapped off, probably by the same fall storm that broke the trees over by Sable Lake. The creek bed snaked back and forth, but seemed to mostly parallel the lakeshore.

After over an hour of stepping over, under, and around the downed trees, we finally approached and arrived at First Creek, located just west of Woodland Park--which is right in town.

Those of you who have been to first creek probably recognize the "Three Sister Trees." Until we started to explore the woods between Sable River and First Creek, we thought that these trees are big. You can see from yesterday's posting, that there are much bigger trees.

We then headed back west on the beach. Thankfully the wind was mostly at our back. The waves were crashing into the icebergs. It was a thrilling walk, and it was nice to be on the beach. The first picture was taken from just west of First Creek, looking back east.

Here are a couple of shots looking west.

And a couple of shots looking north, showing the collisions between waves and ice.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Big Trees

Well, winter has finally hit Grand Marais with a major storm. In the last 48 hours we have received around a foot of snow. The snow is dry and fluffy, so it is blowing around quite a bit. The winter storm warning goes until tomorrow, so we'll see how much more snow we receive.

We went on a snowshoe yesterday east of Sable Falls. We walked the bluff, or at least as close as we could get to it, and then walked up a river-carved ravine. Throughout the snowshoe, there were trees that were either BIG, or they had artistic accumulations of snow. I was amazed to see so many HUGE trees less than a mile from town. I wonder who owned that property 100 years ago. It certainly was someone who wouldn't let the loggers cut those trees.

First, documentation of how snow is removed from my driveway when we are hit with the larger amounts of snow.

I have posted a picture of this tee pee a couple of times -- but from beach level. It was cool to see it from the bluff.

As you can see, the ice is starting to build up on the beach.

Now the tree shots. The first one shows Wendy under an archway of snow-covered branches.