Lake Superior Sunset

While out for Abby’s Senior pictures the other night we had a terrific opportunity to capture a beautiful sunset on Lake Superior.

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Mosquitoes in September on the Gunflint Trail

The warm temperatures on the Gunflint Trail and the recent rainfall were enough to hatch a new crop of mosquitoes. What an unfortunate turn of events for those who seek out the BWCA in September for lack of bugs! I was bitten more on Saturday then I was all summer long! On Sunday it was windy enough the bugs were not bothering me. Hopefully the 31 degree low temperature last night killed them off for good!

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Unexpected Visitors in the Canoe Country

While Abby and I were camping on Saganaga over Labor Day weekend we had unexpected visitors. We could hear the sound of people talking and the occasional bark of a dog but we didn’t pay it much attention. Then we heard a familiar, “Yoo Hoo” and knew it was Janice from Cache Bay.

We were expecting Janice to visit as she had told Abby she might camp with us for the evening. What we weren’t expecting were two more watercraft with a man in each and a dog perched on the bow of one.

It turned out it was Mike Ranta from Atikokan, his dog Spitzi and a photographer named David Jackson. Mike and Spitizi were the recipients of Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s 2015 Expedition of the Year award for their solo cross continent canoe expedition. In 2016 Mike and Spitzi made the trip again honoring veterans along the way.

We encountered the “Modern Day Voyageur” from Atikokan, Ontario while on his third crossing of the continent. This time photographer David Jackson was along to document the adventure in honor of raising awareness for PTSD of First Responders.

We chatted a bit and then heard the reason we were so honored with their visit. It turns out David had broken his paddle along the way and Janice had a spare at Cache Bay she was willing to let him use. It happened to be one of my Pink Paddles I had given Janice as a birthday present. Sure enough David was holding my paddle and Janice took the opportunity to introduce them to the creator of the paddle.

I’m not one to enjoy making small talk with strangers but when those strangers happen to be on an amazing adventure like they were I could have talked for hours. Unfortunately they didn’t have spare time so after Abby and I added our signatures to Mike’s canoe they were on their way once again. Janice paddled with them across Saganaga to the first portage before returning to our camp for the evening.

We then learned more about the explorers and their adventure. Stories about how they had to pull carts on highways through the Rockies. With canoes and gear loaded they walked over 500 miles! Wind and waves kept them windbound for a number of days on a couple of large lakes including Lake Winnipeg which is notorious for large and sudden waves. These delays caused the expedition to be about 2 months behind schedule and unsure if they would be able to successfully cross Lake Superior this late in the year.

Most people would never consider embarking on such a journey. Most people would call it quits when faced with adversity and weather delays. Mike and David are not most people. These men have something inside of them. Something that if it could be bottled, marketed and sold in stores would make them billionaires. A mix of determination, grit, inner peace, drive, sense of purpose, kindness, companionship, trust, patience, common sense and a deep love of the earth and adventure.


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Busy Bears

We’ve been hearing reports of bear activity lately.  The berry picking wasn’t good for the bears either and they are in need of food before they hibernate for the winter. They are looking wherever they can for some good food so it’s super important to keep a clean camp and hang your packs. Someone encountered a sow and cub near the portage from Alpine Lake to Red Rock Lake. A group of ours talked to some people on the south arm of Knife Lake who had a bear come into their camp. On the portage between Duncan and West Bearskin a bear had a torn up pack and another group who had a bear come into their camp said it wasn’t deterred even when the group shot a gun and used air horns.  We received the following information from the USFS.

Two men who guided brown bear hunters in Alaska for ten years were chased off of Seagull after one night.  They were camped on the site at the top of the lake, above Miles Island.   They had 9 visits from 5 DIFFERENT black bears in less than 24 hours.   They said they basically had a packed trail through their campsite and they just kept coming back.   A sow and a cub, a cinnamon colored bear, a huge black bear, and a random medium sized bear.   Then, when they gave up and left, they had a bear in the parking lot by their vehicle in the campground to add insult to injury. They are very bear aware and finally just gave up because they were tired of chasing them out of the site and looking behind their backs.

They are veteran Seagull campers, been doing this for years.  They keep a clean site, even go as far as washing out the freeze dried food bags.  One of the bears kept pulling the rocks away from the fire grate when they went out fishing.  (so there were at least two more visits when they weren’t in the campsite.)  They had their pack and their small bag of trash hung from trees.  They said the big bear was huffing at them and came within 5 feet before running away.

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TGIF? What could it stand for besides “Thank goodness it’s Friday?” How about “Thank goodness it’s fall?” As a business owner or someone who services tourists you might find yourself thinking that because you’re super tired from a busy summer.  The folks who work the Minnesota State Fair get a little taste of the resort life when they have 10 days of 12 plus hours of work each day. But they only have to do it for 10 days.

The good news is we are continually refreshed by the enthusiasm of our guests who are just as excited to be experiencing the wilderness as those guests of ours in June.  We’re super thankful for all of our guests. Can you think of a way to use the letters “TGIF” and express thanks for guests?  Share your thoughts!


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My Happy Place

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It’s beginning to look a lot like fall

The fall colors are here and they are beautiful.

Minnesota fall colors

DNR News Release
For Immediate Release:
Sept. 7, 2017

Expect a near perfect fall leaf season in Minnesota state parks and trails

The Fall Color Finder goes live Sept. 7    Adequate rainfall nearly statewide combined with lots of summer sunshine point to a beautiful fall leaf season.

Starting Sept. 7 and on every Thursday throughout fall, people can consult the Fall Color Finder to learn more about peak fall color ( This tool comes courtesy of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division and features:

A map that shows peak color across Minnesota.
A link to fall color programs and events.
A slideshow.
A photo uploader that provides a great way for sharing fall photos.
“It’s that time of year again – kids are back in school, evenings are getting cooler, and leaves are changing color,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. “This fall, I encourage Minnesotans to get outside and enjoy fall colors in their state parks. Minnesotans can even use the DNR’s Fall Color Finder to determine when leaves will be most vivid in every corner of the state. I hope to see you on the trail this fall.”

Rainfall and sunshine throughout the summer months determine the depth of color each fall in Minnesota. Kao Thao, a naturalist with Fort Snelling State Park, said that temperatures also come into play. An early freezing frost, for example, cuts short fall color.

“A light frost at the start of the color season actually helps produce vivid color,” Thao said. “During those summers when we experience a severe drought, colors are dulled somewhat. But we had plenty of rain and there’s always plenty of sunlight, so the leaf season at Fort Snelling State Park should be beautiful.”

Elsewhere the west-central and northwestern parts of the state saw less rain this summer than the metro area. Sometimes a less rain, but not drought conditions, actually increase the color display.

All of the above begs a seasonal question often asked of the DNR. Just why do those leaves change color? Longer end-of-summer days and shorter bouts with sunshine as well as cooler nights trigger the color change. The most brilliant leaves show their hues after many warm and sunny days and cool nights.

Those shorter periods of daylight mean a closing off of the leaf veins that carry liquid sugar in and out of leaves. As a consequence, sugars in the leaf permit the red and purple colors to develop. Purple-like and red pigments are found in the leaves of maple and oak, some varieties of ash, and tall shrubs like cherry, sumac and viburnum.

Yellow is always present in leaves all summer long, but the color is revealed when the green pigment in chlorophyll breaks down. The yellow leaves, found in ash, aspen, basswood, birch, cottonwood and elm, may be short in lifespan due to drought conditions. If it’s dry, not as much sugar is produced so there isn’t as much color.

Check out a state park, recreation area, state forest, trail and water trail. Each is within viewing distance of beautiful leaf color. There’s a state park within about 30 minutes of nearly every town and city in the state. Find a state park at

As a general rule, colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third of the state, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third, which includes the Twin Cities.

State park fall programs are listed in the 2017 “Programs and Events” sampler available at state parks and recreation areas, Twin Cities libraries, and at metro outdoor retail stores. The DNR Information Center will mail the brochure if requested. A listing of all fall programs can be found online at

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at or call 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday).




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Posted in environment

Why Kids Should Spend More Time Outdoors

I think everyone would agree the majority of kids these days don’t spend enough time outside. Most people can remember spending all summer long outdoors. I know I didn’t even want to go inside to eat lunch or supper. From sunrise until sunset, or later if I could convince my parents, I would be outside. I lived in town and I found plenty of ditches to climb in, railroad tracks to balance on and backyard trees to climb.  We played on jungle gyms, swam in pools, threw frisbees and used our imagination to come up with a number of other fun activities.  It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as we were outside.

We all know there are many benefits to spending time outdoors. Improving ones mental health is probably the most noted benefit of spending time with nature. Improved mood, reduced stress, better ability to concentrate and increased happiness are some pretty good reasons to get outside. But it turns mental health isn’t the only benefit. Spending time playing outside can help kids stay healthier, have fewer sensory issues, improve their balance and help their eyesight.

Better immune systems

It turns out playing in the dirt can not only reduce anxiety but it can also help the immune system and brain development. According to an article I read, “Our increasingly sterile environments filled with hand sanitizer and germ-phobias has limited the variety of skin microbiome in adults and children. So kids are cleaner…the problem? A diverse skin microbiome benefits the human immune system, and without that diversity, you have increased risk for illness, disease, and other medical issues such as asthma.”

Fewer Sensory Issues

I read an article by Angela Hanscom(a Pediatric occupational therapist) who notes a dramatic increase in children being referred to occupational therapists for sensory issues. “As we continue to decrease children’s time and space to move and play outdoors,” Hanscom writes, “we are seeing a simultaneous rise in the number of children that are presenting with sensory deficits.”

Better Balance

Hanscom also notes, “Underdeveloped vestibular systems are more common in children with less exposure to the outdoors. The Vestibular system is responsible for the ability to balance.  In other words, they have decreased body awareness and sense of space. Teachers are reporting that children are falling out of their seats in school, running into one another, pushing with more force during games of tag, and are generally clumsier than in years past. In fact, the more we restrict and coddle our children, the more unsafe they become.”

Better Eyesight

A google search on eyesight and time spent outdoors will give you a lot of reading material. All of the results from studies show the more natural light kids receive the lower their chance of nearsightedness. Research shows there has been an increase in the percentage of Americans ages 12-54 who are suffering from myopia(nearsightedness) over the past 45 years. The number has increased from 25 percent in early 1970 to 41.6 percent today.

From an article I found,  “Dr. Christopher Starr, an ophthalmologist from Weill Cornell Medical College, suggests one to three extra hours per day should be spent outside. This is in addition to school recess time. Dr. Starr explains that dopamine, a known inhibitor of eye growth whose release is stimulated by light, prevents elongation of the eye. Lack of dopamine results in the eye becoming more elongated, resulting in nearsightedness.”

I encourage you to find some kids and take them outside to play. Show them how much fun spending time outside can be and you’ll all benefit.

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Palisade Head on the North Shore

What a tragedy. A 14-year old girl fell off of the cliff at Palisade Head on Sunday afternoon. Palisade Head is about 5 miles northeast of Silver Bay before the turn off to Highway 1. It’s part of Tettegouche State Park and you can drive up to the top of the cliff that towers over 300 feet above Lake Superior. There’s a great view of the lake and of Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park in the distance.

Bystanders attempted to perform first aid after rapelling down the cliff.  She was then transported by Life Link to a hospital but she did not survive. It’s not the first fatality at Palisade Head. The last one occurred in 2010 when a woman from Hermantown, MN slipped off of the cliff and died.

Standing a few feet from the edge of the cliff you get a great view and it’s a lot safer than standing a few inches from the edge for the same view. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the 14-year old whose life ended way too soon.


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Beautiful Weekend on the Gunflint Trail

Canoe campers and visitors to the Gunflint Trail this past weekend were treated to wonderful weather. While the sun may not stay out as long as it does during June it sure warms things up when it’s out in full force. This weekend the sun was a constant in the sky making the beautiful blue water’s surface sparkle. I wish I had been lucky enough to be out camping to enjoy the temperatures in the high 60’s during the daytime and mid 40’s at night. The water temperature is still great for a quick dip and the bugs are nonexistent. Combine that with the waning full moon and show of northern lights on Friday night and the weekend was as close to perfect as it can get.

Thanks for the photos David Johnson!

Northern Lights dancing in the sky

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  • A trip to the Seagull Lake palisades never disappoints.

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